I know that people usually say, “this was the best Christmas ever”, kind of like how the Olympics are always the best Olympics ever, but I seriously think this may have been my best Christmas ever.
Christmas for me means a trip to the cold east to be with my family of origin. And, there is nothing like visiting the whole family together at the same time to make you feel like you’re in a merry festive mine field of subconscious triggers and childhood emotional flashbacks.
Food triggers (voluntarily eat salad? Never!). Emotional triggers (please don’t tell that embarrassing story from my childhood again!). Family stereotyping (she’s the messy one).
But each holiday trip over the past few years has been an interesting barometer on how I’m doing tackling this journey of whole-hearted living.
The food is slowly getting better. I can say out loud “no, really, don’t tell that story again because this is how it makes me feel”. And, “you’re the messy one, she’s the responsible one and I’m the independent one” kind of breaks down and falls apart when we start having real conversations about real life.
But there was one thing that hadn’t changed. And that was that it was again just me traveling. No husband/wife/partner. Just the single one.
I have always felt that lack-of-partner gap. The extra space in the family picture. The Christmas gifts signed only by me. The only single around a table of couples. The vague feeling of failure, of differentness, a sense of not yet achieving grown-up status. And, of sadness that somehow that one thing defined my progress over the past year instead all of successes and struggles.
And then this year, about halfway through the week, I noticed that feeling hadn’t shown up. I felt totally okay being just me. I didn’t need to be anything but me. Not thinner, not more financially responsible and not married.
And, I enjoyed every single part of the week. The sleigh ride in the freezing cold but beautiful snowy woods. Glass beading with my sister. Taking my niece for her first facial. Telling family stories around the table (loaded with food, of course!). We even managed to get a great group family photo with everyone smiling at once.
I’m not sure what changed over the past year. Or, what changed in me over the past year. Or when exactly I changed. Maybe all those nights of telling myself “I am enough” finally allowed my heart to believe it.
But I’m glad it changed. And, I think I might do this happy Christmas thing again next year.