Yes, despite everything I have to be thankful for, despite having four wonderful kids with whom I can share the magic of Christmas, I've been just barely making it through the holidays, let alone enjoying them.
In 2010, it was the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without my dad. It was hard, because his birthday is right around Thanksgiving, and he loved the holidays more than anyone I know. We had lost him only two months prior. It all felt forced and difficult.
In 2011, we were a little more used to not having Dad, but it was still hard. I didn't look forward to it, in fact, I dreaded the holidays.
In 2012 Sue was very sick around the holidays. I remember getting calls from her in which we discussed what we might do if she was in the hospital on Christmas. She was miserable. We faked it through those holidays, despite the fact that she wasn't in the hospital after all.
In 2013 we had lost Sue. My nieces and nephews were trying to see what life was like on the holidays without a mother. I was deep, deep in grief myself. I don't remember much about those holidays except escaping to cry in the bathroom a few times.
In 2014 we had made it through a whole year, plus, without Sue, but I wasn't feeling much better where the holidays were concerned. I remember waking up on Thanksgiving and crying, just wishing I didn't have to fake it through another holiday. I did end up enjoying myself at Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was just took so much effort to be happy.
In 2015 it was another year of merely "making it through". Again, things felt a bit lighter, but still not joyful.
Now it is 2016 and I am tired of dreading the holidays. I'm tired of crying in bathrooms, wishing happy days away, and being grumpy every time I hear a Christmas song. I know how disappointed my dad and Sue would be if they knew the extent of my holiday crabbiness. 2016 is the year that this will stop.
I will enjoy the holidays this year! I will listen to the Christmas songs and sing along at the top of my lungs! I will bake cookies and bask in the glow of Christmas tree lights!
The thing is, friends, we don't know how many Thanksgivings we will get. We don't know how many magical Christmas mornings we will be allowed to experience in our lifetimes. We need to squeeze out every bit of joy we can find, wherever we can find it. I used to be a person who loved the holidays. I want to be that person again.
When my kids wake up especially grumpy, positive that they will have a horrible day, I always tell them the same thing: It is up to YOU to DECIDE what kind of day you will have. You can CHOOSE to be grumpy, or you can CHOOSE to have a great day.
It is time for me to make the choice to feel joy, thankfulness, and contentment in the coming holiday season. I'm starting today!