"It's That Time of Year....."

Can't you hear Karen Carpenter singing "The Christmas Waltz?" How sad that she isn't here to share her gift of song. How wonderful for us that her music still gets so much air time. To me, she had a voice that is pleasant and soothing.

But I also know that it's that time of year where many people find themselves profoundly sad and in deep grief because the picture and image of what we want Christmas to look like just ain't happenin'. Having spent so many years arranging and planning, hoping and praying for a Rockwell Christmas, I've learned over time to let go of my ideals and focus on what is true.

Being single most of my adult life meant I had to learn holiday survival skills fast. I quit watching all the romantic type movies that Hollywood tried to paint as the real reason for Christmas. I especially changed channels during the commercials as they were shamelessly trying to tell me what I was missing. How could I possibly have a loving and Merry Christmas without the love of a man, the diamond bracelet he was holding out for me and that loving man giving me "the look"? Instead, I tried to volunteer at different functions that had nothing whatsoever to do with coupling. When my sons were with their Dad over the stretch of holiday vacations, I borrowed other kids to spend time with. I had to fill my hours and thoughts in ways that would be bring me peace and joy. Over the years, I've become more comfortable with myself and have even learned to cherish some holidays alone.

That all worked fairly well for the single part of me but I still had gaping holes in my heart when it came to my sons and my dreams for Christmas. Last Christmas was not the first Christmas where one of my sons was unavailable for the festivities of the season due to drugs or alcohol, but it was one of my lowest years because our situation had become so desperate and hateful. While I hoped and prayed for a truly divine intervention I found myself in a very deep pit when my prayers had been answered. I was so exhausted that I spent many days burrowed under blankets and mindlessly filling my time with some old reruns. Now and again you'd find me reading something that really caught my interest, but mostly I spent my time grieving for what had been lost all those years and what seemed would never come. After all, I never ever used drugs nor didn't drink to excess so why was I in this pit of life??

Looking back now, I see that God really made it clear to me during my grieving that I had to learn to live my life in a healthier way. He allowed me to grieve for quite some time but in moments of taking hold of my emotions, I found myself examining my choices, my thought patterns and my own character strengths and defects in the past and in the present. I also came through that process with a healthier reality about living in the day, taking one day at a time, one moment at a time. I can still see the speaker at one of my first family support meetings at a rehab clinic many years ago saying to me to "stop taking it personally." I wanted to smack her then. Today, I get it. Once I started to deal with the anger, sadness and grief, I could work the steps with better clarity and understanding and apply them to my life.

With that in mind, I can more easily enjoy what today has in store for me, plan my tomorrows but not expect that my happiness will be determined by my sons behaviors or decisions. I'm doing things because I love to do them and will celebrate myself for what changes God has made in my heart and my mind. I can dance The Christmas Waltz all over the place alone (as I often have) or with a partner and sense that I am loved and will be fine and have Joy!