Hauling out the holly

blogDSCN8188What a difference a year makes.  That statement may sound cliché, but it’s true.

Here’s how I know this.

Today is the first Friday in December, Page 2 in my 12th Chapter of my book called Opportunity.  Last year around this time, my attitude was notably different than my attitude is today.  Don’t believe me? Read this.

Last year, I was:  (Pick one)

A.  Grumpy

B.  Grinch-like

C.  Melancholy

D.  Suffering from empty nest syndrome

E.  All of the above

If you chose “E,” you get the gold star!  Last year at this time, I struggled to drum up some Christmas spirit.  The crates full of holiday decorations lay idle strewn through the house, but I didn’t possess the motivation or desire to bedeck the surroundings.  My mind, kidnapped and trapped by melancholy, continually persuaded me to ignore the approaching season of joy just as surely as my heart, harbored in sadness, agreed.

Empty nest syndrome and grief over my father’s passing reigned.  My husband erected the artificial Christmas tree and strung it with twinkling lights, but it sat forlorn in the living room with no ornaments sprucing up its bare branches.   Garland did not festoon anything nor were candles blazing in the windows.   If it weren’t for hubby accomplishing the outside light decorating, our house would have sat as dark and dreary as I felt.

I was able-bodied, but always seemed tired, cold, sleepy or lethargic.  With no kids in the house anymore or elderly father to check up on, I sure had the time, but I just couldn’t muster up the inclination.  This lackadaisical attitude towards the Christmas season was as foreign to me as meeting up with an alien from outer space on my front lawn….it just doesn’t happen.

I’m one of those people who loves Christmas.  I usually have all of my greeting cards addressed, stamped and the annual missive to friends and family printed and tucked inside the envelopes ready to mail by December 1.  Shopping is accomplished early.  Tree and all of the other festive decorations  garnish and embellish our house the weekend after Thanksgiving.  But last year, I literally finally forced myself to do….something… and half-heartedly prepared for the most beloved time of the year.

Thankfully, this year is different.  I’m not so able-bodied (still suffering with some back and hip problems); I don’t have quite as much time; but I’m raring to go.   Our house is ablaze with Christmas lights and finery outside; hubby and I finished that Thanksgiving weekend.

The tree sparkles in the living room with all its treasured ornaments resting on its branches.  Christmas cards are addressed and will fill the mailbox soon (should be working on that Christmas letter instead of this blog post!).   With any luck, we should complete our shopping this weekend.

So what has changed from last year?  My attitude.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~ Maya Angelou

I can’t change the fact that my kids have grown up, moved out, and have their own lives.  I can’t change the fact that there are beloved faces missing from my family gathered around the Christmas tree.   But I can change one thing….me.   I can be a Scrooge, a Grinch, a Grumpy Gus, but I don’t have to be.

All it takes is a little Christmas and the knowledge that God loved us so much, He sent His only Son as the most perfect gift on that first Christmas so long ago.

Okay, I’m off to haul out some more holly and this year, the Christmas village will once again adorn the kitchen.  So in case you’re a little low on Christmas spirit, I’m sharing my all-time favorite Christmas decorating song with you because we need a little Christmas right this very minute.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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14 responses

  1. when you are done at your house… this one needs you. The gbabies decorated the tree (with a lil help) and i have forced myself to put up a few things but I think most folks would feel less than inclined to deck the halls when they just dont feel like those halls are a home….

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  2. Mama: I’m where you were last year – the flood just came as the icing on the cake and everything turned into the perfect storm. the idea of even going to the storage locker and getting all the Christmas items out is just too overwhelming – I barely have ll the boxes unpacked from moving back in last week. I’m working on it though and each day is getting a little better. Reading your story helped! Thank you.

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    • I’ve been wondering how you were doing, Michele. I’m glad it’s getting better and you’re moved back in. One day at a time, girl, one day at a time. There’s so much more to Christmas than the decorating anyway. Just try to enjoy being back in your home again and take your time getting everything back in order. You’ll be less stressed that way! 🙂

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  3. What a great post about finding the strength to be positive during challenging times. One of my cousins lost her toddler son last year a week prior to Christmas. Despite this horrible tragedy, she has made the choice to be a positive force for all of us, which I find to be incredibly inspirational. It makes me appreciate the blessing of being with my children all that much more.

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    • Thanks, Kate. I too really admire your cousin’s incredible choice to be positive in the midst of such grief. It truly is a choice and God grants us the opportunity each day to decide what we will make of it. Thank you for sharing that story with me! And yes, even though our children can try our patience and sometimes make us want to scream, having them is such a blessing.

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  4. What an important message. This certainly can inspire others as you remind us the seasons change on so many levels. Thank you for sharing your perspective and energy in pressing on so graciously. Your writing is so clear, and in every message you radiate gratitude. I love visiting your home site. Unlike the grinch your head is screwed on just right.

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    • I sure hope my head is screwed on right, but I think unlike the Grinch, my heart isn’t two sizes too small, it might be too big! 😉 Anyway, I’m pleased that my gratitude is evidenced in my writing and that my point is clear. Seasons do change, and that’s exactly what we learn during the empty nest phase, but the important lesson is that there is ALWAYS something for which to be thankful.

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  5. I’ m an empty nester since August. I have done quite well until I started decorating. My motivation is low but I have gotten most of it done except the tree. Like you last year, my tree sits with lights in the corner, thanks to hubby. We, in the past, decorated the tree as a family and I am not looking forward to doing it alone. I will before the 16th because that is when my first college kiddo pulls in. I know I’ii get used to this soon. Your blog helped.

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    • So glad you stopped by Mama’s Empty Nest and left a comment. We empty nesters need to stick together to work our way through this pain change of life’s seasons! I know exactly how you feel. It’s so hard to even want to decorate because it reminds you that your family isn’t there, especially decorating the tree. We always spent an entire day going out to get a real tree, decorating it together, and then sitting in the dark looking at the splendidly glimmering tree. Family moments that were treasured in our memories, and now, it’s just not fun doing it alone. All I can tell you is hang in there, it gets better as time goes by. My husband and I have started to enjoy just doing things together – just the two of us.

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  6. YAY! I’m so happy that you’re enjoying the season. And that’s one of my favorite Christmas songs too!
    (By the way, I haven’t put up the first decoration…. but I will – soon!)

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  7. I know this post is old – I didn’t even bother to see if you’re still writing your blog, but I found your words in a google search for “Empty Nest Christmas Blues”. Thanks for the reality check – I know I’m not the only one in a funk this time of year with all six of our children scattered far and wide and strained relationships with too many of them courtesy of a heartless ex-wife. Choosing joy and gratitude – that’s my Christmas promise – the rest of the family can come along for the ride or miss the fun!

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    • Kathy, well even if that post was old, I’m happy to hear you found my blog and that it encouraged and helped you a bit. It’s not hard to fall into those funks this time of year because of family situations. I’m hoping you DO find amazing joy and gratitude for Christmas! Thank you so much for reading and commenting. And may you have a blessed Christmas.

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