Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How To Wreck Your Thanksgiving...

(...or any other holiday, for that matter...)

Your comments to my last post were just way too kind (but thanks!). Especially yours, Laura, when you wrote:

"I think it's wonderful (by the way) that you don't let what could be very hard on some get to your holiday spirit of creating a wonderful atmosphere - even if it's just for you."

I felt guilty reading that because for 20 years (20 years!) whenever Tom had to work on holidays, I, well, I would complain. Whine. Groan inwardly and outwardly. Fume. And I'd tell Tom that power plants were *&^%$ and why couldn't he have decided on a career where he'd get a simple thing like Thanksgiving or Christmas off like the rest of the world?

(There was more griping, glaring, and crying... twenty years, or so, worth of more, but I will spare you.)

The sad (obvious) thing? I only made those holidays worse for all of us by giving-in to that Supposed To Be Disease I told you about here. You know, that sickness which makes you go around like Scrooge any time of the year when you don't get your way. The disease where all of your sentences begin with "It's not supposed to be this way..." and you make certain everyone you live with knows exactly how unhappy you feel.

Okay, call me slow, but it took me over twenty years to get over the Supposed to Be Disease and move on to the Happy Anyway Attitude.

Part of it was a choice. I mean, I can choose to sit here moping, wilting on holidays alone, imagining that all the world is gathered with their relatives having a wild, marvelous time --or--

I can be happy anyway... Happy that I know God. Happy that I'm healthy. Happy that I have a family, a sweet home, two cats, birds in the backyard, food on the table, movies to watch, books to read, music to listen to, online friends, events to anticipate, Heaven to look forward to and so, so much more. And I can bask in all that and have an amazing holiday (of any kind)--even alone if I must.

But it's more than a choice because for years (and years) I tried to choose to be happy anyway when just Naomi and I were here waiting for Tom to get home in the evenings when special days were, well, pretty much over. But the problem was this--I tried to choose to be happy while simultaneously clinging to my it's-not-fair, complaining, resentful attitude. That is why mostly what I felt was just plain struggle. Struggle to look happy for Naomi's sake. Struggle not to dread the next, upcoming holiday which Tom would have to work. Struggle to not act like a baby when my holidays did not look like everyone else's.

Finally (finally!) I let go of the complaining, sour, It's Not Supposed To Be Like This attitude. That was the key--the letting go of my demands and expectations that holidays be one way. I have learned, since, that holidays can be whatever you make them to be--and even alone they can be amazing.

But whether alone or in a crowd, always what matters most is what's going on in the inside of us... the atmosphere in there will, always, always seep out, somehow, to everyone around us. And may that stuff which comes seeping out, be good and worth sharing.

"...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34

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