Finding Joy in the Holidays

It's that time of year..... when for some of us we put that smile on and pretend that all is well...and for some of us there truly is something magical about the holidays that brings out the best in us.  For some of us the holidays are truly difficult.  There are many reasons that this could be....but I think a common reason is missing a loved one.

I'm pretty sure I have experienced all of the above, and more, I'm sure.  This year I am truly finding the joy in the holidays, and I will explain what that means for me.    I have been missing someone for 8 years now...my Mother.  My Mom was the light of the family...she was very crafty, and crafted by hand so many decorations for the holidays.  The house was always decked out at the holidays, and as a child it really was magical to see the house transform into such a cheery and festive place...both in sight and sound.  The same angel was up top the tree every year, and my Mom hand made ornaments in which she sent to every friend and family member in our phone book, every year!  It was truly amazing how my Mom transformed the holidays into such a beautiful time...and she did it year after year!  She was the most delightful woman I have ever known!  In 2003, my Mother passed away very unexpectedly, just a few days before Thanksgiving.  She had the fridge packed full of food, ready to entertain and feed the family for the holiday.  I was 23 years old and finding myself without my Mom and best friend.  I didn't even know what to do with myself...it was a tough, tough time.

It has been a journey of growth over the past 8 years.  I was the person that was smiling for a while, just trying to get through the holidays the best I could.  We usually put a tree up, but that was about it.  I have not felt very motivated or comfortable enjoying the holidays yet, if that makes sense.  I know my Mom would not want it this way...she would have wanted me to celebrate and fill in as the new bearer of holiday joy and memories.  I just haven't had it in me to do it.  I know what it feels like to be the person who is magically transformed by the holiday season...I was that person for the first 22 years of my life.  So it is very painful to have those happy memories, and be incapable of finding joy like I once did.

Fast forward...I am now 31 years old.  Life has been magically transforming itself over the past 6 months in ways that I never imagined possible.  Things are falling into place in many different ways...but that's a story for another post.  ;o)  This post is about the holidays!

THIS year, I have found my holiday spirit!  I realized something very profound recently.  It was after I "heard" my Mom for the first time {from the other side}.  She said, "A Mother's job is to bring joy to the home."  This was the first time in 8 years that I have heard her, and I knew it was her!  I was doing dishes at the time, of course!  LOL  This was probably a month or two ago that I heard her.  Anyway...our new postal address has put us closer to my brother and his family, so we were able to host Thanksgiving at our house for the first time for my side of the family in probably 15 years {at least} (my brother is 10 years older than me).  I so enjoyed entertaining the family at our new home this year, while all the kids ran around the house playing!  I know my Mom was here, and smiling at us, and running around with the kids!  ;o)

The day after Thanksgiving I got this warm excited feeling....this feeling of excitement to put up the Christmas tree!  I don't think I've ever had the tree up the day after Thanksgiving, in my adult life.  Hubby and I got the tree up, and my son, Kyle, and I decorated the tree with all of my Mom's hand made ornaments, and all the ornaments that Josh and I have collected over our years together.  Josh held Kyle up to put Mom's angel up on top, and Kyle's eyes danced with excitement when he turned the lights to the tree on, and watched the angel light up.  That is when I realized!  I am the Mom now!!!  I am the one who is supposed to bring joy to the house for my family now!

I promptly took out many of Mom's Christmas decorations and started hanging and plugging in things all over the house.  It feels like Christmas in our house this year!!!  Kyle is excited about all the Santa's around the house, and the tree ornaments and lights.  He is 3 years old, and I realized that this year starts the traditions!  From today forward...I will be the one to create these memories for my son, and our beautiful family.

I won't lie....I did cry while putting up certain ornaments and decorations that Mom made herself.  I picked Kyle up for a hug, and he asked me, "Mommy, what happened?", when he saw the tears come down.  I told him "nothing, I just miss my Mommy."  The sweet darling let me hug him tight until I was ready to let go (and I do not have a snugly kid!).  But in the end, I can feel the holidays this year, just as I did when my Mom was alive.  I feel joyful, thankful, and full of love and life.  I have gotten to the place where I can allow myself to feel the sadness of missing the happy memories....yet be joyful for having all of those memories, all at the same time!  I have come to the place where I now realize that I am the one who brings the joy into this home at the holiday season for my family.  It is about us now...all the traditions and memories we will make....as well as honoring and remembering all of the beautiful memories from my childhood.  It is such a joyful holiday season this year in our home!  Thank you Mom for helping me get here!  =)

No matter which category you fit into this year....getting through it, magically joyful, or missing a loved one....remember that Christmas {or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year} is a feeling.  YOU have the power to bring joy to your home this year, no matter what the circumstances.  Don't wait, like I did!  You can have it today, you can have it in this moment.  Be grateful for all the memories you have, and all of the blessings in your life today.  Especially if you are a Mother and reading this, remember, "A Mother's job is to bring joy to the home." - Mary (My Mom)

Christmas 2000, Mary & Marv (Mom & Dad)

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