My Imperfectly Perfect Christmas

the grinchThis is about my imperfectly perfect Christmas and the Gifts it Gave me…. “They didn’t come from a store and these gifts all meant a little bit more!”

– Sheri Joi (Seuss??)

To say this Christmas was all “Joy to the World” and filled with “Christmas Cheer” for me, would be a flat out lie.  In November I was so excited to start this holiday season and anxiously anticipated the “Holly, Jolly” joy of the end of the year celebrations with ALL my favorite people under the same roof for the most magical night of the year…. Then unanticipatedly (I know that’s not a word but that’s what happened) I received some news and I felt like I had been punched in the gut.….. and I began to spiral down, the shadow of “the greatness sadness” began to creep into the valley of my heart…. I can tell when this begins to happen and I have to call a little “time out” for my life.  I know I’m going to need to be extra gentle with myself, very conscious of how I feel and how I’m acting and I’ll really need to take some time to sit down, get centered, be present and then I analyze (because that’s what I do!!!  Analyze and analyze and ANALYZE ….said with a long drawn out drone…..  until it makes sense or I can at least come to peace with it.)  This Christmas season felt anything but “Jolly” and the wave of heartache hit again and again.  The truth is I’ve cried this month…over and over, I’ve hurt and ached from deep in my heart.  I’ve yelled, screamed and said all sorts of swear words as I was driving down the road by myself.  Then in the middle of all that rawness I also discovered that I had the power to sprinkle of my own JOI presence and use my own sparkle to light up the darkness with gratitude…. These are the “presents” you can’t buy in a store….. these are the little tender mercies, filled with grace, that mean a little bit more.

Today,  I sat down and reviewed my magical/tragical (yes, I make up my own words sometimes) month and found those perfectly love wrapped gifts that sparkled like diamonds in a darkened winter sky for me this month and I invite you to do the same…. Whether your Christmas was the delightful Spirited holiday of wonder and awe…. or that not-quite-like-I-dreamed-of-Christmas….. spend some sacred time to find out what the Grinch discovered when he thought of something he hadn’t thought of before…. “Perhaps Christmas doesn’t come in a store – or that perfectly dreamed up fantasy of sugar plums and snowmen coming to life—maybe Christmas means, a little bit more”.  By spending a little time thinking back about some of the little magical moments of your month you may discover you really did have a Merry Christmas and experienced it in other glittering moments but didn’t even realize it.  My hope for you is that you will take a little time to find a fabulous space/place where you can cozy up… snuggle into yourself and embark on an adventure to find those moments this past month or year that meant a little bit more…..here are mine, in no particular order, for the last month.  May you find the imperfectly perfect “presence” of YOUR life.  Cheers!  (The rest of this is going to be long…. And it’s probably mostly for me….. so feel free to read through, skip through, come back to or simply begin your own journaling at this point…. Whichever you choose, from my heart to yours…. Merry EVERYTHING and Happy ALWAYS!)

1* Holiday Party to Raise Money for Sub for Santa.  This is the second year I was able to head up our annual “Seeds of Service” holiday party.  It is an honor to be able to get a sneak peek into the behind the scenes work that goes into this great event.  I was able to witness the volunteers put their heart and soul into their assigned jobs and find donations for the auction, the raffle and the prizes for this event.  I experienced the selfless love of ‘giving’ as my clients, friends and even people I didn’t know graciously opened their hearts and wallets for our “cause”….the children.  I love watching the sparkle in the eyes of all of those donations so that “Santa can come to town” for many of those needing a little gift of love this year.  The party was a success and the magic of the night carried me through some tough days this month.

2* Trust from a friend in need.  I was honored to receive a text from a sweet friend…. A sweet mother , of many children….. it was so hard for her to reach out and ask for some help. (Can you relate?  I can!)  Her husband had been sick and out of work, she had done what she could with her work to make ends meet but the reality of “no Chrismas” under the tree had become a heavy burden her heart was carrying.  I felt so blessed that she felt safe enough to reach out to me and ask for assistance…. I was able to give her such a surprisingly fabulous gift from YOU….from those who made our “Seeds of Service” holiday party a success.  The tears of joy and hug I received when she opened up the envelope I sweetly placed in her hand were gifts you can’t wrap and put under the tree.  These gifts, I get to keep in my heart.

3* Surprise Joy from a childhood friend.  A couple months ago, I heard that one of my childhood friends had run into some misfortune.  She is a single mom of 5 children and has one grandbaby who also lives with her.  I had found out that their house had burned down and they had lost everything.  When I called this sweet woman to see how she was doing she told me “Well, it doesn’t do any good to feel sorry for yourself so I’m just doing what I can to re-build our life right now.” She was positive but I could hear the weariness in her voice.  I remember visiting my friend about 5 years ago when I was in Utah for a short stay.  Her house was very small and with all those kids, they were bursting at the seams.  She is a CNA at a hospital and at the time she worked in the part of the hospital which is where mostly older people come in for their last days if they end up in the hospital.  I could tell when I visited her that her family didn’t have much.  Her husband had left her and was not helping out financially so she put her head to the ground….. worked as hard as she could to support her family as well as planted and harvested a garden to make sure they had enough food to make it through the winter.  I noticed on my visit she had a big bag of “goodies” by her front door.   The big, bag of goodies was filled with crayons, notebooks and other fun “kid” things that she probably found at the dollar store.  When I asked about this goody bag, she told me that when she was working and there was an older person about to cross over….. many times their grandkids would be at the hospital and because of the grief those kids parents felt at losing their own parent, they sometimes didn’t realize the children were a little scared…. So my sweet friend would pull them aside and let them choose something fun from her “goody bag”.  She would continue to check in on the kids to make sure they were not too overwhelmed in the grief of their parents.  WOW!!!  This woman!!!  Imagine my delight when I was able to hand her a fabulous envelope with a gift certificate inside that she could use to help her and her family begin to rebuild a little of what they had lost in their house fire.  Tears of love and joy???  You betcha….. that’s not available for sale on Amazon.

4* Sharing my heartache with my little circle of love.  Quite often I get to circle up with some of the best people on the planet and we share our “wins”, our “joys”, our “disappointments” and our “heartaches”.  We love each other, cheer each other on, we laugh together, we cry together, we look into each others eyes/souls and reassure each other that we truly are “enough” and we will make it through this day, come what may.  We spend only about 90 minutes together but those minutes can never be measured by time as they are infinite moments of eternity….. as I sat there one day this month, quietly listening and soaking up all the love offered by this little circle, the heartache clawing at my heart burst out and I spilled out my hurt with raw vulnerability to this sweet “family” that filled the chairs that day.  I had not intended to spill the flood of tears that was dammed up in my soul but when I let go of the heartache deep inside….. my sweet circle loved me through the discomfort and filled me back up with their encouragement.  One of these sweet angels looked deep into my eyes/heart and soul….. I knew she knew my heartache because she had walked my same path and her heart embraced mine.   We are all one….. what we can not do alone, we can do together.  This precious “diamond in the sky” gift will forever be tucked safely into my heart.

5* Texts, emails and private messages from friends.  Throughout the month…. I received many messages from all different circles of my life.  These messages were filled with love, encouragement and cheerful wishes for me.  Many of these messages included….. “just thought of you and wanted you to know……” Dear friends from all different circles in my life…..Thank you for listening to your angels, your sweet messages lighted my days and nights when the clouds of sadness moved in.  Cost of an inspired thoughtful message???  Priceless…..

6* Miracle of life!   A surprise text, a surprise announcement ….. a new little babe would be arriving 4 ½ weeks early.  I was so honored to be able to hold this sweet little 5 pound miracle just a day after he made his grand entrance into our world.  Thank you to my sweet sister who invited me to be a part of this celebration of birth …. You have no idea how much this sweet little miracle meant to the lifting of my spirits!!!  I love being an auntie, I love getting to meet these sweet babes that make my younger brothers and sisters turn into love-crazed parents.  I was able to visit this cute little family several times this month and each time, though I went to be of service to them….. this gift of life, this miracle of birth and this JOY of family has been a service/blessing/gift to me.

7*Speaking of Auntie.  Each year, from before I could remember…. My sweet Aunt Connie sends ALL of her nieces and nephews a gift for Christmas.  Yes, this is a gift you can buy from a store but what you can not buy….. is the love that is enclosed in that gift.  When you open the card…. You are sure to make a giant mess all over the floor with the sparkles, confetti and fun that she lovingly sprinkles into each card. … and the gift…. She has picked out just for you….. she watches your Facebook, she notices what gives you life as you interact throughout the year…. And guaranteed…. You will receive the perfect gift!!!  This year I received a sweet little book entitled “Life is All About How You Handle Plan B”.  This isn’t just a gift this is my sweet auntie whispering to my heart ….. I “see” you, I “hear” you, and I “love” you.  This is the spirit that is packed into whatever little package arrives on your doorstep from my sweetest Aunt Connie.

8* Hug from a friend.  I was sitting in my office working up some numbers for a client getting ready to buy a house.  A sweet friend dropped by my office and popped in for a visit.  I saw her enter our lobby and she chatted with our cute receptionist for a minute and then immediately came into my office for a hug….. she didn’t know it but I had needed arms wrapped around me that day.  Her simple gesture for my weary heart is one of those sparkly moments I have adorned with a ribbon and sweetly placed among the treasures of my heart.  I received many “needed” hugs this month.  Thank you!   Hugs are best when given away.

9* Leaning in to love my granny.  My granny has been my best friend since I could remember…. She’s truly the greatest and probably not like most grandmas…. For one, we call her granny and she loves it and for two, she knows all my secrets in life…. and still loves me with all of her heart.  She has been living in an assisted living center for several years now and spends most of her days watching her favorite TV shows.  I drop by from time to time to chat about life, death, memories, robbing banks and the perks of getting old and pretending to be senile.  We laugh like we are the same age….. in our hearts and souls we are.  I could tell from one visit that she was feeling a little lonely so I texted my cousin and asked if she would help me throw a party.  Within minutes my cousin had group texted our entire family, made the arrangements for the “party room” at the assisted living facility and the party was set.  I was so excited to see so many of my family that next weekend.  I hadn’t seen some of them for years and I was moved from the top of head to the tips of my toes that they would all take a few hours out of their busy December schedules to join me in letting our granny know just how much she means to each of us.   We took a few pictures and I told everyone to “lean in towards granny” on one of them….. when I posted it to Facebook, someone asked, “Why are you all leaning except for granny?”… I responded by saying, “We were all leaning in to love her”….. my dad replied and told me that was the perfect response…. This sweet little family began with my granny and my sweet grandpa –who is now my angel—It was an honor and a privilege to “lean in” and “love” my granny.

10* Good Neighbors.  You see it on TV shows, those neighbors that are just fun.  They chat in the yard.  They help each other move heavy furniture.  They share their vegetable harvest.  They surprise each other with random acts of kindness.  This year we were so blessed to have these “fun neighbors” move in right next door.   What fun it was this month to be invited over for a game night….. it was the perfect way to wind down after pulling off my annual “Holiday Party”.  Laughing, dancing, singing, eating, playing pool, telling stories and just good fun were all a part of a fabulous evening of just letting go and enjoying new friends.  Then, we were invited over on Christmas Eve to be share their Christmas Eve tradition….. dressed in Christmas Elf attire (the girls of course….) we exchanged delicious treats and toasted to a fabulous year.    Cheers to the neighbors that join in making life FUN!

11* White Christmas.  There is nothing quite like waking up to the world you live in being blanketed in the white, diamond studded, fluffiness of snow.  Although it was an early morning and required a LONG drive to school for the kids…. We (all four of us….kiddos, Trent and myself.) all ventured, slowly, carefully and me with childlike joy out into the winter wonderland.  Throughout the month, I have been able to slow down and just enjoy the beauty of a world wrapped in glittering snow.  I was filled with SONG one evening as I slowly drove past the Murray City Hall and breathed in the enchantment of a giant pine tree, glistening with white lights covered in snow.   “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” filled my soul…. And I was reminded that this attitude was my choice….. what a gift “choice” is to all of us.

12* Lights!  This time of year the days are short and the night sneaks in quicker than you realize.  The dark of night is brought to light with the sparkly celebration of illumination….the lights!   We wanted to spend our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day relaxing and leisurely enjoying each other so instead of running around to visit family on these days…. We invited the family to join us a couple days before for soup, goodies, blowing up gingerbread houses (that’s what you do when you have teenage boys…. You build the firecrackers right into the frosting) and going downtown to see “the lights”.    What a fun tradition it is to see “the lights”…. It takes on new meaning for me each year and I nostalgically recall the years past of visiting “the lights”..…. Much like those “Ghosts of Christmas pasts” and I get to let go of those “ghosts” that no longer serve me…  As I walked among the lights, the people and the traditions downtown… I think I took my sister-in-law quite by surprise as I — an adult-grown woman, skipped up behind her….. grabbed her arm and proceeded to skip among the lights – (notice I said grown…. Not grown up…)  Feeling that childlike “gotta skip” feeling burst out of me, she was the closest person to drag along….. thanks for playing along .….. you may not realize the brief relief and gift this gave my heavy heart.  There isn’t a price tag you can put on that!

13* Sweet 16.  I am a “Mama” to six teenage boys ….. so when my sister asked if I would help with my nieces Sweet 16 birthday party I was more than thrilled!!!!  GIRLS!!  GIRLS!!! GIRLS!!!  We played games, we had a fantastic hot chocolate bar, delicious food, an amazing cake….. uninhibited karaoke and dancing…. And an over the top, feel like a rock star ride to the party in a limo!!!  Now don’t get me wrong, I love my boys with all of my heart and I’m probably a much better “Mama” for boys BUT….. I have always secretly wanted to be able to have a Sweet 16 birthday party for a girl.  Thank you Kiersey and Mikal for letting me be a part of the party.  You made this grown girls dream come true….. the glitter, the sass, the silly girl laughter…. All tucked into the treasures of my heart forever.

14* Glitter Toes.  A few days before Christmas I found out a friend needed a little extra cash to bring some Christmas cheer to her family….. I sent out a text and my heart was once again filled with the “Reason for the Season” as my friends and neighbors showed up to support me in helping a Christmas miracle happen.  My sweet friend spent the day ‘glitterizing’ toes….. she may think this day was for her…. And that is what I thought too when I arranged the day ….. but what happened is I was able to spend some magical moments laughing with dear friends, filling up my heart with their goodness.  Thank you for showing up…. All of you…. for this day was truly about giving to me!

15* Christmas all over the house.  The fact that Christmas decorating, for me, is contained in eleven giant Tupperware bins may give you an indication that I get a little “crazy” with the decorating for the holidays.  This year I was a “crazy” mess….. I carefully took down all the “fall/autumn” décor and began with a clean slate…. So to speak.  I would put up some décor… and then I would sit down and cry…. “why am I even doing this?”  I would ask myself.  Then I would take a little break…. Have some hot chocolate, turn on a little Christmas music and continue to create the perfect holiday scene all over again…. Then again, break down, decide it wasn’t even worth it…. give in to the tears as I joined Faith Hill and asked “Where are you Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?  Why have you gone away?”  I would let the sadness take over for a bit then slowly rally back with the music of The Polar Express reminding me “When Santa’s sleigh bells ring….. the herald angels sing….. and all the dreams of children, –once lost will all be found—that’s all I want when Christmas Comes to Town” and slowly, through tears of sadness, then hope, then heartache and then faith…. The tree was decorated, the stockings were hung, the presents were wrapped, the lights were put up and Christmas came to town…. in our home.   The best “gift” was when I would come home from the office and Trent had run around and plugged in all the lights (and there are a lot of places you have to run around and plug in!)….. I don’t know if he knows it but this said to me…. “thank you for bringing Christmas to our hearts and our home with your decorating…. You make a difference to us!”  Thank you baby….. Best gift ever!!

16* Phone call to my sister.  One of my most favorite titles is “sister”.  I love being a sister and l love having sisters.  I love everything that has to do with my sisters, whoever and however they come into my life.  The past few years, I have been blessed to be able to grow closer and closer to my baby sister.  There is an eighteen year age gap between us but now that we are grown… there is no gap at all.   This month she texted me to see if we would be coming to Montana to visit, I let her know that we were going to be staying home this year and we texted back and forth for a little bit.  A couple days later she called to see how I was doing….. I spent an hour with her…. Venting, crying…. Then laughing and listening to her express her love.  Thank you sister for witnessing my heartache…. She called just as I received a hurtful message….. she was a sweet angel that softened the blow and let me know I was not alone.  All of my sisters….. **ALL OF THEM**….. are priceless gifts to me, they are the angels among us.  “They come to you and me in our darkest hour.  To show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us with a light of love.”  My sisters are my gifts in life… every day!

17* Surprising someone.  I spent this month in an online workshop with one of my favorite mentors, Brendon Burchard.  One of the activities he asked us to do was wake up each morning and after we had stepped into the feeling of gratitude by counting our blessings we were to think about someone we could surprise each day.  I loved this idea and I accepted the challenge.  It really did make a shift in my mood to be thinking of how I could “surprise someone”…. A text, a message, a small gift, a thank you note, a random act of kindness…. Out of the blue and for no reason except to surprise someone.  I loved this feeling and it would help counter the other feelings I was experiencing this year.   One day…. As I lay in my bed missing my boys who live in Portland…. I thought, if I was there in Portland, what would I do to surprise them….. I thought of all the different ways I had surprised them in the past and loved the trip down memory lane….. I thought how fun it would be to surprise them again……. THEN I had a HUGE “A-ha” moment…. I have boys HERE that I love…. And that day, before I went in to the office I dropped off a couple dozen donuts to Les Schwab where my oldest son works his butt off.  His smile was all I needed….. that night he came home, wrapped his arms around me and kissed me on the cheek.  “Thanks for the donuts, Mama…..” was the greatest gift he could give me this year.   Surprising someone else turned out to surprise me.

18*Christmas Movie Tradition.  This year on Christmas Eve…. We all snuggled up and turned on “Buddy the Elf”.  Several times during the movie I would just look around at the wonderful people that shared the couch with me on this magical evening.   I recognized each of their faces and their hearts.  I know them well and I simply adore each and every one of them.  This was a Christmas wish I had wanted my whole life…. and though there were a few little faces missing…. I could reach out to them with my heart and they would also know just how much I love them.  This is my Christmas miracle.

19*Christmas Phone Calls.  I was snuggled up on the couch, watching everyone enjoy their new treasures on Christmas Day.  They were all chatting about what they were going to do with this and how they were going to use that.  It truly is one of my favorite things to watch brothers interact with each other….. they fight, they tease,  they laugh, they encourage and they dream together.   I was watching all of this play out when my phone rang and the voice on the other end said, “Merry Christmas, Mama” and the other “brothers” of our family….. joined us….. if only via telephone, for Christmas.  **Tears… my heart was filled.***

20* Random gifts of presence.  It wasn’t a secret that this Christmas was a swing between joy and sadness for me all month long.  Trent’s love was the greatest gift I could have ever hoped for this year.  He would watch me…. He would randomly stop whatever he was doing and come over, bend down and kiss my cheek.  His hugs were extra tight and extra long.  He refilled my water throughout the day, when I worked from home on those snow filled days.  He helped longer and harder behind the scenes for my holiday party then anyone else because he knew it meant so much to me.  He entertained the kids with Bigfoot stories at my get together for my Granny so the adults could visit.  He took the kiddos out of the house for a little bit so I could enjoy my friends during our ‘glitter toe’ party.  He went along with all the Christmas adventures I wanted to do. He shopped with me….. even endured Christmas music while the house was turned upside down with my Christmas decorating…… and on Christmas day, as the excitement of presents, dinner and fun had faded and the kiddos had all retreated to their own space to play with their new treasures….. he found me sitting on the couch, playing a little electronic game I had bought for the boys….. and asked if he could play with me.  I know it wasn’t about the game….. he felt my heart aching and he wrapped me up in his love… and we played Scrabble Twist together.   His gift of presence is given to me over and over….. sometimes I forget and take it for granted but this year, that moment of time will be the memory I will take with me…. That memory trumps all the hurt I have felt this year…. That is what I will remember about Christmas 2015.

21,22, 23, 24, 25…..****and so many more*****

If you are still with me…. Wow…. That was a long one, thanks for spending some “time” with me this Christmas.  These are twenty of the gifts wrapped up sweetly and tucked lovingly into my heart, given to me by the love that surrounds me.  I hope everyone can find a few sparkles of joy and happiness that aren’t able to fit in a box or left under the tree this year….. and if your Christmas was one of those years where it just didn’t feel “perfect” because maybe someone you love wasn’t here to spend those magical moments with you…. please know I get it, and I  love you because I  was having an imperfectly perfect holiday as well….BUT……  It’s not about it being “perfect” …. It’s about making the most and best of each experience we get to have here in this life.  It’s about finding those simple, sweet and tender moments that twinkle with the love that’s in our hearts.  I really hope you will sit down and think about a few of the gifts you received this month….. the ones that didn’t come from a store, the ones that meant a little bit more!!!!

Remember to SHARE ….this may be the ‘gift’ someone is waiting for this year.

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