I know, I know...what a title, right? Don't get me wrong - there are so many things about Christmas and the holiday season that I love. The memories that get made with the kids, the time with the family laughing and playing games, THE FOOD! I truly do love a lot about the holidays.
But let me tell you, I am so freaking glad it's over.
If you are a first responder or live in a first responder household, you know that holidays can be tricky. You've got the shift work and the allure of overtime and depending on where you live, mandates. There are always so many extra things to juggle. Top those off with PTSD, and it has the potential to be a powder keg. The lack of down time, overstimulation, and overall stress seem to trickle in no mater how much you try to control them.
In honour of full transparency and honesty, this Christmas was by far the hardest one in the last 5 years. Looking back, I think it was a combination of factors that I wasn't anticipating to have the affect that they did including a tight schedule, strange weather patterns, and expectations I didn't realize I was still carrying around.
The school calendar had the kids in the classroom right up until December 22nd which I thought would be great but just made those couple of days until Christmas feel so rushed. Toss in an overnight trip to the city (which was great), working two jobs, having a house to clean and groceries to buy and not a single present wrapped and December 24th saw me having a breakdown in the bathroom.
Because of my husband's PTSD, we have gotten very good at not over extending ourselves around the holidays. We ( or I should say "I" since I make most of the plans) try to be thoughtful around what events we say 'yes' to. And even though we didn't have a lot going on compared to previous years, it felt so busy. Having a big and busy family often means that things can get planned at the last minute. This happened a couple of days before Christmas with an impromptu gathering at my sister-in-laws. It was a super casual, kids in their pajamas, endless appetizers kind of night. Lots of laughs were had, both by the adults and the kids. And even thought there have been plenty of gatherings like this that my husband has passed on before, for some reason, on that particular night, it made me really sad that he wasn't there. Even the next morning, showing him pictures from the night and listening to the girls talk about the funny moments that happened, I got sad all over again. I don't know why...but I was sad. And I think that feeling just kind of lingered over the next few days.
Now - I'm not sure there is an average person out there that isn't feeling a financial pinch these days. With that, combined with some big money goals we working towards, we decided to keep the gift part of Christmas on a smaller scale. Both our girls had more than a couple of presents under the tree but still, it was less than previous years. And even though both were extremely happy with what they received, it was an adjustment for us as parents not to be placing a flowing amount of gifts under the tree.
Top that all off with the absolute weirdest weather that I can remember in my life time. Typically, where we live, we have a very white Christmas with at least a couple feet of snow and temperatures around -15 Celsius. This year...I woke up on December 25th to the sound of rain. We could see the grass in our yard. Grass when you're used to snow is a little depressing. Not to mention, no one could participate in the usual winter activities that get to happen over the break like skiing or tobogganing.
All that being said, I've been having a hard time answering people when they ask "How was your Christmas?". I mean, it was great in so many ways. We got to spend it with family, our kids were happy, and we had good food to eat. But it was also really freaking hard and I found myself happy when it was over.
After Boxing Day, I knew I didn't want to spend the rest of my time off dwelling and feeling sullen. Reinstating small routines like making sure I ate breakfast and drank enough water, getting some body movement in, and forcing myself out of my pajamas helped make a difference. But perhaps the biggest part that helped get me out of the funk was simply talking about it. I shared my feeling through my Instagram account and was touched by how many people reached out to let me know that they were feeling the same and that I wasn't alone.
There's no real revelation or big discovery for this blog. It's more just to share that if you had a hard time this holiday season, you were not alone.
I want to take this opportunity to thank every single person reading this. Thanks for being here and reading my words. I appreciate you and wish you nothing but contentment and blessings for 2024.
Take care of yourself and each other,