It’s all in how you look at things.
My kids are getting older – this is not the first time I have written about this – and the Christmas season only reinforces the nostalgic feelings of my kids’ childhood that make my throat constrict in tears of fondness.
But alas! I try to remind myself. This is not the time for tears! This is the time to be thankful for the fact that I have even HAD the Christmas’ I have had in the past, as well as in the present and what is yet to come in the future. I have wonderful memories of traditions, fun, joy and tears (a little one up too late, perhaps?) that I will cherish forever. Sure things aren’t the ‘same’ anymore, but as my kids grow I grow, and traditions change. Things can’t be the same E V E R Y S I N G L E Y E A R. They just can’t; they won’t. Fun, togetherness and the spirit of the season comes in many forms. But the challenge is accepting change – because it WILL happen – and focusing on finding the joy in what I DO have. Making the most of every present moment and not pining for what isn’t anymore will only make the NOW, better.
And part of that is finding fun where I can, when I can, and often in the unexpected. Not in a selfish ‘me, me, me’ way, but I realized if could create my own fun then I would still have the ‘umpf’ to spread the fun for my family – no matter how old they get. Happiness and joy – it’s contagious. If fun was still going to be around me no matter the change in traditions – because they invariably will change - no matter how old everyone gets, I had to act it. I had to believe it. I had to foster happiness and joy if it was going to be around us all.
And I knew all this, but still, I wallowed these past weeks leading to Christmas, wasting time and pining for what once was and what wasn’t going to be.
Two weeks before Christmas I was in a dollar store and I was feeling wistful and – to be honest – (stupidly) kind of feeling sorry for myself. Between skidding over the loose jelly beans on the floor, tripping over the bits of tinsel dropped in the mad rush, and wading through the gift bags thrown in a panic, I was wishing my kids were little so I could take them across the street to see Santa.
But then I saw a gift bag to end all gift bags.
But I didn’t see a ‘gift bag.’ I saw shopping tote.
I saw fun.
So I got it.
And it was then that I really GOT IT.
It was with that dollar store ‘Mrs. Claus’ gift bag/tote that I remembered just because the same kind of Christmas fun I had with my kids when they were little was now a fond memory (and at least I had THOSE), I could still have fun – for me and for everyone else. I was wasting time pining for what once was. Fun was not over – it was only just beginning anew. And the most important thing was perspective – I have a home, food and family around me. It’s the little things that matter, that come unexpectedly in any shape or form, and I had to keep an open mind and heart if I was truly going to see them. That little bag renewed my determination to keep things fun every year, no matter what the change. Fun is where and how you make it, you sometimes just have to dig deeper beyond what is really there to find it.
Thank you, Mrs. Claus, for that - and for making me look cool.