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Holidays Can Suck. You Do You.

Leading up to Christmas I was for lack of better words, a slightly cantankerous bitch.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little hard on myself.

I found myself feeling extremely stressed out for no good reason other than, I possibly felt like I was drowning in the infamous sea of what I felt were expectations. I was really excited about a gift I bought for Travis, and even tho I knew he'd love it, I still felt nervous.

Since my dad died, I really haven't felt like making myself go through the motions of attending all of the Christmases. I don't have it in me at this point. I acknowledge that I know folks want to see me, but at this time it still hurts too much in my heart to make myself walk through the door and not see my dad sitting in the chair like he always did.

I'm not ready for the small talk.

I'm not ready to hear all of the voices of all of the people and all of the kids.
The thing I enjoyed most about attending Christmas, was spending time with my dad. I could sit and be quiet and know that it was okay. His presence made me feel calm amongst the chaos that is a house full of humans and little ones.

It's always been particularly challenging for me at gatherings because I was the only child of the youngest kids. I'm stuck in this odd gap of being a "kid" among adults and being an adult among the kids. I have one cousin who is a year and a month younger than me, but even he has kids of his own. I'm this oddball childfree 35-year-old who is an introvert and has a hard time being in close proximity to dozens of humans all talking at once.

The Smiths are a very close family unit, and I never felt like I really fit in. I fit in when I was with my dad. Because I think he and I were close enough in personality that I felt it was safe. I knew there was acceptance. I didn't have to put on a face. I always had someone to talk to. I had someone to understand me. I don't think I really realized how similar we were until he came over for Thanksgiving at our house. It's not that he didn't enjoy being around family, but I think he didn't mind the calmer scene.

My patience for the holidays and expectations I put on myself has become extremely tiny. I do not have room in my life right now to bullshit my way through a holiday. I couldn't bring myself to go to my aunt's this year. I'm not ready. I don't know how to tell people that without sounding like a selfish person. I'm not trying to shun family. I do love my family, but I'm not ready to come to grips with reality. If I walk through the door, someone else will be in my dad's spot, and I'm not ready to see that. I don't want to. I'm not ready to have oyster stew with oysters my dad didn't buy. I'm just not.

I feel like I'm letting people down. I also feel like I have to allow myself to have some comfort in a time where I'm feeling very vulnerable.

This year is a full year of my dad not being here. I also feel like compared to last Christmas, this Christmas was the most satisfying I've had in a long time. Christmas Eve was really enjoyable- spending time with my mom, making a meal I hadn't had in years, and making bars not out of a box (OMG!) Travis and I even had time to go for a walk together, and we explored a small part of Decorah we hadn't ever really hiked before. It was so satisfying to be OUTSIDE...even if the outdoors made me sneeze. I got to be around trees (albeit brown and dreary) but still...it felt good and right.

Christmas was enjoyable, too. I had woken up from the best sleep I had experienced in weeks. Travis and I spent the morning together unwrapping gifts, sharing laughs, and smiling. I mean- really, it's so simple. He loved the gift I got him. We spent time with Travis's mom and I got a call from my sweet Uncle Bill. I almost cried. I feel like we're a bit alike as well: both well-meaning in wanting to call each other, but both easily distracted by life to follow through. It makes me feel better knowing that we are thinking of each other often. I'm so drawn to him yet he reminds me of a version of my dad that it's a little hard- but it makes it hurt less for sure.

I followed my heart on Christmas day.
I again, chose to do what I wanted, even if it meant that not everyone would be happy with the decision. Travis and I even got to go out for another hike. I've been missing the outdoors, and when you have a 50 degree Christmas day, why the heck would you want to spend all day indoors in multiple locations? No. I took advantage. I reset my mind/heart/soul, and I let myself be free to be me and do what would make me happy.

I do feel I'll get to a point where I'm ready to face reality at Christmas. I'll spend time with the family again, but at the same time, I want to allow myself to create my own tradition for Christmas. Sometimes that means saying no so you can say yes.

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