How I spent my Christmas vacation

This year, I didn’t have the luxury to spend time with my son. But that’s a whole other story for another time. I just hope and pray that next year things are different and I will get to have the Christmas we always wanted. Making cookies with Grandma. Sledding down the hill. Ice skating. All the things my kid ought to be doing during the holidays. For now, I just need to be patient. All of those things are what Should have happened. But they didn’t.

Tomorrow, I need to work my guts out to make sure that future happens. I need to start making money again. Which has been a stressor…I can’t even begin to explain that. But today, Christmas Day, I took time off. I took time off yesterday too, spending time alone with my thoughts. I dropped off in a near meditative state, just letting the quiet seep in. I watched It’s a Wonderful Life and found myself overwhelmed by so many scenes in that movie. It’s an all-time favorite and one I watch a couple times a year. Same as Love Actually, because I’m a dyed in the wool Romantic. July? May? Watching those movies probably.

Today began as a blah day. Christmas without your kids is just another day. I had dinner with my folks. Did a mountain of dishes I had let stack up at home. Took a nap with the dog.

This evening, I decided to treat myself with a cigar and some good scotch in my writing room. I very, very rarely do this, but it was nice. I listened to London Grammar and scrolled social media and bantered back and forth with friends. I didn’t feel alone. (Thank you all!) We joked and laughed and I wished a bunch of people a Merry Christmas. That felt really good. Even though we are all spread across the world like a dog’s breakfast, it put a smile on my face.

Penny and I shared a cheese plate with dates and coffee and it was nice to just sit and be mellow and enjoy a cigar. This year I had felt pretty forgotten. It seems that everyone has their own lives with their families or social groups and sometimes the thing that I used to worry about the most has been looming over me lately. The Fear of Missing Out. Alone for the holidays. Forgotten up here in my fortress of solitude. It snowed over the last few days. We got about a foot and a half of heavy, wet snow. It would have been perfect for sledding too. We (Penny and I) went out and took pictures of the beautiful sunset earlier on. It felt like a blessing right there just to see the sky lit up like this, like a Christmas present from God Himself, letting me know He didn’t forget about me.

So many things to think of and to feel, even though in a lot of ways I feel like things are really tough.

There are moments I just think I made a mistake. Maybe several mistakes. Like a nightmare that won’t stop. But tonight I enjoyed so much of just being at home enjoying my own company, as well as chatting with friends. I know that sometimes it feels like a waste of time to let people in, but it’s worth it. Tonight I felt more like myself than I have in a while.

I know that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you hoped they would, but maybe that just means that things have to follow many steps as you go from A to Z. All too often we jump into things without those little steps in between and what we might have been left with is something hollow. It’s frustrating but maybe that journey is worth taking. It won’t happen all at once, but with a little hope and a leap of faith, maybe what we hoped for isn’t nearly as good as what it could be?

Tonight I am happy. (Tomorrow, I have to work).

The takeaway from this is that it is okay to be yourself. It’s okay to feel how you feel. There’s no shame in any of it. We are only on this rock for a short time and nothing is guaranteed–Covid should have taught us that by now. Buy the ticket. Take the ride. Scream your head off on the rollercoaster and get back on again. Love with your whole heart, unashamed. There’s no shame in it–you’re just using that organ for what it was made for; and what an adventure! Smoke the cigar inside once in awhile because this exact moment is good enough to live for and sometimes it is exactly the moment you have been waiting for to celebrate.

For too long, I’ve lived life feeling like if I did the “wrong” thing, there would be consequences. What would the neighbors think? Will this go on my permanent record? What if I wear my heart on my sleeve and it gets hurt? That’s all life. That’s why we are here.

I hope that one day when I die (many years from now), my humidor is empty, the scotch is gone, I bounce my last check, I’ve hugged everyone who needed it and they had no doubts that they were loved, brought joy to another’s day with a random gift and no expectations back, kissed someone until we were both speechless, danced, disconnected and enjoyed a lazy day or ten, sang off-key with all the songs, fell asleep feeling gratitude, and people will say at my funeral many years from now, “He really did live life to the fullest. He wasn’t afraid.”

Merry Christmas!

Doing the work

I’ve been checking the social media on a lot of my friends over the last few days and in spite of the difficulties going on with my own custody battle, I guess I have chosen to lurk and freeload on them. It’s heartening to see families together, going to parties, playing games, wearing the matching PJs, visiting distant relations and all the trimmings. In the past I might have been jealous of these moments and the eternal cry of “Whhhhhyyyyyy can’t that be meeeeee?!”

This season, I choose to use the time I have alone to work and write and do the things I have been called to do. I miss the hell out of my son, and I will remain hopeful that everything will be sorted out in due time. (It helps to let down my guard with good people who have been there to listen, no matter how much of a mess it sounds like–thank you, truly). In the meantime, rather than go into an unhealthy shutdown, I am enjoying seeing everyone’s holidays unfold and my heart is full for them all.

However, today, I wrote a chapter in my book that absolutely beat the hell out of me. Maybe not the lightest thing to do on a Christmas week, but the feelings of nostalgia and bittersweet moments at this time of year are always powerful. So, I chose to use those feelings to work with. Damn, but I found a whole other gear in this story. Silver linings, good readers. Silver linings.

I’m closing in on the end of a first draft, which is exciting. I’ve been working on this book for a little over a year and a half. I wonder if I won’t miss it once that draft is done and I just dive into edits and rewrites. I already had an idea for my next project, which takes place in the lives of the same characters. More of a prequel. I have some technical chapters to write soon for this project which I feel are going to do some interesting things with time and plot and character development. But for now, I have all the dots mapped out and I just need to connect them with story.

I have my ending and in the next few days, I’m going to write it.

For my dear readers who are enjoying the holidays with family, thank you for sharing your pictures and stories on your social media as well as your blogs which I read from time to time. To those who are alone this holiday season, I send you my best wishes and want you to know that these times are hard, but they won’t always be like this. I know it seems like a platitude, but I feel that in my bones. Keep going. Find joy wherever you can and let it fill your heart.

Sometimes just doing the work is enough. Whatever calls you. Whatever fills your buckets.

Don’t Count Your Blessings

Everyone always says “Count your blessings.” I don’t agree. If we keep an inventory of our blessings, we risk becoming hoarders. Blessings are things that are shared. If we hold onto them, and count them, we aren’t sharing them. I think we should know that we are blessed and show gratitude for being blessed.

This holiday season has been hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it. We had so many plans. Plans that might never come to fruition. But it isn’t about me. It’s about my son, my family, and everyone else whose light touches our lives. It’s about being that light in the dark even if you are just down to a spark, because this time of year, the nights are long and cold.

If I focus on what I don’t have this season, the list is long. And if I focus on what I do have, I run the risk of holding onto it too tightly. If anything the last couple of years has shown us, it is how everything can change so quickly.

So, this year, I’m just going to be grateful. I’m not counting anything. Because my blessings, in spite of the hardships, are beyond number. Though I won’t be seeing my son this holiday, I can still feel his love for me out there. We are both still fighting the good fight. Thank you everyone for your support and kind words.

Have a happy holiday, Merry Christmas, and squeeze your loved ones just a little bit harder this year for me if you would. Just don’t make it weird for them.