An Elusive Christmas

December 28, 2019

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Christmas Wreath On Front Door

Christmas 2019 is a just a memory now and I have to admit, I feel a little bit sad.

I know, I know, it's normal to feel a teeny bit melancholy when the day passes. After all, there's such a big build up.

However, that's not my story. Not this year.

This year was different.

This year for the first year, I just couldn't find my Christmas spirit.

Is that terrible? It is, isn't it?

I mean seriously, Christmas is supposed to be great! It's the most wonderful time of the year. At least, for me, it is...well, until this year. And I really don't know why.

Nativity Scene

I mentioned it earlier this month, that I was having trouble feeling jolly. I never even baked cookies.

I put up less stuff, I watched fewer holiday specials, listened to carols only sporadically and - get ready for it - I took most of my decor down the moment Christmas Day was over. As in 12:01am.

Yup. I did. On my way to bed, I literally started gathering Santas and reindeer and placed them by the stairs to go back into hibernation. It was just time for them to go.

Christmas Bottle Brush Trees

Now that's just not right for a girl who loves to decorate.

Oh, I understand that the holidays, like life, change as the years go by. The energy ebbs and flows, depending on your age, the state of your love life, your full or empty nest, your health and a myriad of other factors. I get that.

And, trust me, firmly entrenched in middle age, I've been through many different kinds of holiday seasons.

But somehow, some way, no matter the circumstance, I was alway able to conjure that indescribable full bodied feeling of Christmas when December rolled around.

The excitement, the wonder, the love, the anticipation, the energy, all of it, just by looking at a tree or hearing a holiday tune.

Christmas Candlelight In The Kitchen

This year, however, nothing seemed to spark that flame, no matter how many candles I put out around the house. And trust me, there were a lot of candles.

It was perplexing and very uncomfortable. December was supposed to be different.

How come it wasn't? Where was my Christmas wow?

Being an analytical sort, I tried and tried to figure out why I couldn't capture the feeling. Was it that my mom was gone? I mean, she was gone last year, too.

Was it that my siblings were far away and we weren't all celebrating together on the actual day, but on other days that week?

No. I was still going to see them and, let's face it, cooking for 30 is exhausting. This would be more manageable.

Merry Christmas Decor

Was it that Santa doesn't bring toys here anymore? Frankly, he hasn't for years, so probably not...

Maybe it was a combination of all of those things, I finally decided, that so much of what defined Christmas, for me anyway, just wasn't happening this year.

The familiar representations of the holiday season were gone...

Christmas Roses

Oh sure, the house was decorated to the nines, but I wasn't going to be hosting a boisterous crowd for supper. There wasn't a meal to plan or Secret Santa gifts to buy. No hustle or bustle.

My mom wouldn't be staying over and since my children are adults, I wouldn't be setting up a wonderland of toys under the tree.

And there was really nothing I could do about it.

You can't bring people back or shrink your kids. Much as I'd love to do both sometimes. Even if just for a quick moment.

Christmas Kitchen At Night

Of course, being the mom, I was in charge of making sure there was plenty of holiday spirit for all, so I mustered as much of it as I could and we celebrated.

And all in all, it was a perfectly lovely Christmas. We were surrounded by friends on Christmas Eve, a day we traditionally spend with family. We stayed in our pjs on Christmas Day instead of putting on pearls.

We lingered at the dinner table for a long time, one set without the my mom's china, crystal stemware or the gold silverware.

Christmas Candles DIY

The kids told silly stories, we played games, watched movies and snuggled until day turned into night and night turned into day again.

Quietly.

Different, for sure.

But good.

And I guess sometimes that's all we can expect.

Even at Christmas.

How was your Christmas?














  1. I felt that way too a few years ago and then there were grandkids... they make all the difference! You are once again in the toy aisles, once again talking about Santa and filling little stockings, once again buying Christmas candy... It will happen before you know it and the Christmas spirit will be back! Happy New Year my friend! :)

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    1. Sounds like your Christmases are full of that magic all over again, Susan!! How wonderful!!

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  2. Kim, this brought tears to my eyes. I can so appreciate what you said here. I tried to get everyone else's Spirit up by decorating and doing the holiday baking and whatever but I didn't have that same spirit. I think as we get older it just changes. Not sure that's good or if it's bad. Family gets distant kids are grown and out of the house. It was a sad Christmas for me this year. Especially leaving my son in North Carolina two weeks before Christmas. I think I cried for three days. The gift of music can definitely bring me out of the doldrums. In fact, I am listening to some great music on my new Echo device. LOL. Best gift ever. But sending love your way. You're doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

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    1. I'm so sorry you had a sad Christmas this year. It's tough adjusting to new situations and new "normals", isn't it? I think being away from our loved ones, especially our kids, is the roughest. Music helps me too, something about it can really raise my spirits. I listen often and this season it was the only thing that helped. Your words helped as well, thank you so much for the sweet words. I sending back thoughts of love to you, as well...all the best in 2020 and enjoy that Echo!!

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  3. I'm so sorry, Kim! I wish I could hug you and assure you next year will be better because it will. Maybe try taking pencil and paper and start writing stream of consciousness style, letting thoughts flow unchecked. Try to write down Christmas Musts for next December, the things that may give you joy. Do not include things you have to do, no to do lists allowed. Only gifts to your spirit. Try to picture a Christmas that fits a future you.

    And I've heard others say that the second Christmas after a loss is harder than the first. Give yourself time. Stopping to pray for you now!

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    1. Thank you, Dewena, I do love planning and pencils. I like your idea. I think that I may do it and see what I come up with...fill the holiday weeks with only things that feed my soul. And yes, lots of people have been telling me the second is worst. I believe it. And thank you for the prayers sweet friend. xo

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  4. Boy, can I relate! The last THREE Christmases have been like that for me. I didn’t even decorate. I’m retired, live alone (except for my cats) and no real family close. But this year I actually FORCED myself to decorate. I hauled out things I hadn’t seen in years! And no one but me saw them, but they brought back some happy memories. (I’m having a little weep, but not a sad one.) And the VERY BEST part was … the cats didn’t knock my little tree over! YAY!!

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    1. Sounds like me. I live alone too. My daughter asked one year "Why do you have three trees ?"
      Because I like them. Then there were four kittens racing thru the house and there is only one spot they haven't reached-above one set of kitchen cabinets.
      Myrna

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  5. I think we put too much emphasis on feelings. WE can choose to be grateful & do the things we enjoy even when we don't have the high feelings we've had in the past. And that is perfectly normal. I don't think we can expect to feel the excitement we felt as children or the extreme joy & love of watching our own children when they're small...so excited & full of anticipation.

    The last few years I've chosen to change my focus. For two reasons...I don't want to be a grumpy old lady who moans about being lonely at Christmas ..or anytime for that matter..& I want to show my son how to age well. When he is old I want him to remember & understand that change & aging is hard but we don't need to wallow in misery as we age.

    So my focus is on Christmas....not Santa, not gift giving or parties, not cooking/eating, not decorations but on Christ's birth & what that means for me personally. I still do all the other things but they aren't my main focus.

    This year we're remodeling bathrooms so I did not set up my Christmas trees. I put out two nativities, set out my Christmas cards as they came in (I'm happy to say that every card I received except one focused on Christ's birth so that helped me with my goal) I watched fun, silly romantic & some serious Christmas movies. I listed to music, went to my church Christmas programs, ect. Mostly I stayed home, slept late, ate only what I wanted to when I wanted to. I spent a lot of time walking in the woods alone or with my husband.

    On Christmas Day my son & his family came for supper & we did the traditional Christmas...husband grilled ribs, we opened gifts, played with our grandson, played a few board games....it wasn't an over the top day but it was good.

    I wouldn't worry too much about not feeling the excitement. Instead choose to grateful. Choose to keep serving others & I expect you'll still have some really happy Christmas' to come.

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    1. It sounds like you have a great plan, Jenny. I do try to feel grateful every day and actually gave myself and my girls daily gratitude journals this year for Christmas. So far, we're really enjoying filing them out. It's not difficult to find something to be thankful for...Christmas just had a different feeling this year. It was out of the ordinary, a little sad and hard to find my holiday spirit. I know missing my mom and reflecting on the very awful, trying years she suffered through at the end played a big part...but it is what it is. Hopefully next Christmas will be a bit lighter. Time has a way of softening the painful memories. Thank you for sharing your perspective, it helps. All the best in 2020!!

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  6. It was quiet around here. I made things as simple as possible this year. We traveled to Iowa only to spend just one day there. A storm was coming and we needed to get out of there. It was however lovely to visit with family members. A few of them had other things going on and couldn't be there. I felt a lethargy this year like I never felt before. I had no desire to decorate or to cook for Christmas. I did cooked and decorated but it wasn't as before. I am hoping this Winter passes fast. Cheers!!

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    1. Oh Angela, I'm with you...craving spring in the worst way. It seems that a lot of us had the same kind of holiday this year. I suppose it happens, but I didn't like it. All the best in 2020, my friend and thanks for sharing!!

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  7. Oh, Kim, sometimes things are just what they are. There might not seem to be any rhyme or reason. I do think age has a lot to do with our feelings about anything, not just Christmas. I find myself pushing down sadder feelings than in earlier years. I try not to let them enter in but the magic thing, I think, is that when they seem to be all so strong, just let go and find a dark corner and cry your eyes out. We can't ignore them all together and maybe by just writing this post you will feel a little better?? You might feel that you didn't go all out but your photos show a different story. Everything looks beautiful and very much like Christmas. I always feel sad when the kids have been here and then leave, and really don't even notice when the good feelings start coming back, but they do and we are in the craziness of life once again.. Keep you chin up, pretty girl..xxoJudy

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    1. Thank you friend and that's it in a nutshell, isn't it, Judy? Sometimes things are what they are...I think I just missed my mom a lot this year and no amount of sparkle could hide that. I did enjoy decorating, just not as much and I found myself thinking more about spring than the holiday itself. It's terrible to wish away the days, but I was craving sunshine....I know you get it. xoxo

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  8. We had Christmas eve at my house, minus my second oldest daughter who is in a hospice facility. Immediately after one of my youngest and I went and spent the night with her. She didn't realize she missed it , I guess fortunately. I understand your sadness and loss.

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    1. Wendy, my heart just breaks for you reading that first line. I wish you all peace and strength and am sending you virtual hugs and prayers. You and your daughter are in my prayers.

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  9. Hi Kim,
    I'm so sorry that you did not feel the Christmas spirit this year. Yes, maybe it was a combination of a lot of things for you and each year is different. Maybe you will feel better next year. :)
    I had a wonderful Christmas. I am also glad to have my daughter home for the holidays.
    Wishing you a happy new year.
    Hugs, Julie xo

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    1. Thank you, Julie!! I hope you thoroughly enjoyed your daughter's visit!!

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  10. I think a lot of people experience what you experienced this year. Life brings changes...whether we like it or not. I realize that my Christmases will change probably a lot in the next few years due to my 2 grandkids growing up quickly. My Christmas this year wasn't terrible bur since I was sick most of it, I really would like a redo! But guess I'll just have to try and wait till next year:) Hope you have a very Happy New Year:)

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    1. I really hope you're feeling better by now, Cheri! All the best in 2020!!

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  11. I do understand this, Kim...we felt a lot like that this year, too. I've had to learn to go with the flow and celebrate however we can...I'm just glad to have the kids and grandkids around when they are able. It was lovely, but different and I had trouble finding my Christmas spirit, too.

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    1. Go with the flow seems to be the best plan!! Here's to a fabulous 2020!!

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  12. You are not alone with feeling this way, my friend. I've had the same experience for two years now for various reasons. Some things are just out of our control and we deal with them the best way we can. Here's to hope in 2020!

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    1. Hope in 2020 sounds wonderful, Ann! Here's to it!

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  13. Hello. I just found your blog and sad to say, I felt the same way as you. I am blessed. My three grown children were here (my middle son in from San Fransisco, which in of itself, gets me down. My 3 grandkiddies were here. My husband is still here. If you can find it on U Tube,
    Faith Hill sings a song "Where Are You Christmas". It rings true for me and I cry every time I hear it, but there is a positive message there too. I find myself missing my only sibling brother and my parents so very much, always, but more at this time of year. Let's look forward to next Christmas. We are not alone. Take care.

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    1. Pam, I kept thinking about that song this year, SO funny you mentioned it! I never really understood it before, but man it hit home this year. There is comfort in knowing I'm not alone, thank you, I just wish there was less sorrow all around. Thanks for sharing your thoughts will me. Here's to spring and all the best in 2020!

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  14. I'm sorry you had a disappointing Christmas, dearest Kim. The holidays bring a lot of pressure alongside the joy and it is not always easy to be 'happy on demand'. They also bring us face to face with the passing time and changing family life. Perhaps in the coming year you will discover that you are excited about other things? Or that gentler joys suit you better? I'm sure that there are happy days to come. And meanwhile I send a big strong hug and some virtual lemon cookies (a new recipe and really good!).
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Thank you Amalia! Those cookies do sound delicious and I’m always up for a hug. I think I just missed my mom a lot this year and it sort of bled into everything else. Hopefully time will ease that sorrow a bit and the holidays will regain some of their sparkle. Until then, I’m looking forward to spring and all the color it holds!! Hugs to you my friend!! All the best in 2020!

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  15. You are not alone. I don't know if it's the weather up and down or rain over and over. Maybe it's because I make Christmas floral to sell and just got over it all. Christmas was kind of meaningless this year and glad the whole thing is over. I went to dinner with my daughter, who lost her husband suddenly two years ago, and doesn't have kids. She was sad and I was sad for her.
    But, "the sun will be out tomorrow"

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear of your daughter's loss. Truly sad...and yes, the sun will come out tomorrow. Hard to see it in the moment sometimes. I wish you and your daughter peace in the new year and lots of sunny days!!

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  16. Dear Kim
    I have had years like that. You and I are in somewhat similar boats. My kids are i college. My Dad has just entered the fifth and final stage of Parkinsons. All of a sudden he can no longer walk and so he is in rehab as we speak. I am now facing my biggest fear of picking a nursing home. I live on Long Island, so while there are plenty, none seem very good. And so while I hosted Christmas Eve, my heart was not in it. Truth be told, I was relieved when the last guest left, Christmas Day we stayed in our pajamas and chilled. For some reason I felt like I was hit by a truck. I too did not bake cookies this year. I did deck the halls but took down everything but the tree today. I found the second year without my Mom to be the hardest. It was like it hit me that she really was never coming back.
    But Kim that is the great thing about women.We make the world go round. We get up, shake it off and get our mojo back. Yours will be back and mine will too!
    Best,
    Susan

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    1. Susan, I'm so sorry, I've been exactly there. It's a long, hard, heartbreaking road. And yes, I think the reality of my mom never coming back is what triggered me this holiday season. I lost my dad so many years ago, you think I'd be used to it...and I'm not sure if you'll check back here for a response, but if you want to email me, I may have some information for you. Here's to a wonderful mojo filled 2020!

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  17. I think you're doing fine and that your Christmas was a great one. It will never be the same as when you and the children were young. Period. But it can be a 'new' wonderful, and it was.
    Sue
    xo

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  18. Hello Kim, such a sad post. As others, you are not alone feeling this way. We always see perfect families and we believe everyone is just like that. Not true. Some years are better than other. Losing you mom is so sad. My mom moved down to southern Ca. where one of my brothers lives close by. Yes, these feelings will pass. There are always tomorrows and next Christmas, let's hope you get your Christmas spirit back. Happy New Year Kim. xo

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    1. Thanks Linda! Hope I didn't bum you out, but I appreciate your thoughts. It definitely helps to know that I'm not alone. All the best in 2020!!

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  19. Same, girl. Same. Things change and I don't like it, but I haven't figured out how to move forward, back into the Merry of Christmas...

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    1. Seems like a lot of us were in that boat this year. Here’s hoping that next year is a lot more festive. All the best in 2020 my friend.

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  20. I've had quite a few years like that Kim...merely going through the motions for hubby's sake, and if it weren't for him, probably wouldn't have bothered. However, this year it was different for me. This year I really got into the real meaning of Christmas more, and it changed everything for me. There was much more joy in thinking about what my life in Christ really means.

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    1. That's wonderful, Florence. Of course that's the real meaning of Christmas. I guess it gets clouded some years, especially when your heart if heavy...which is when we should lean on our faith most I suppose. All the best in 2020 my friend!

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  21. Our Christmas was different, too. My husband had to work (RN) so the kids and I made the best of it. We spent the month prior making pine cone Christmas tree ornaments to hand out at the hospital during their Christmas lunch. It was a special day in its own way...but we did miss having the hubs around all day. Even with our attitude to make the best of it we still felt the gap in our "Christmas norm." It wasn't a bad Christmas, just very very different, which made it feel abnormal. I totally relate to the idea of the elusive Christmas. When family is missing for any reason it just doesn't feel complete. I guess having a year of "missing the mark" on Christmas will make me more appreciative next year when our Christmas rhythm is back to normal, hopefully!
    Thanks for being real and vulnerable!
    Happy New Year, Kim!

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    1. What a noble profession, Audra. When my mom was in the nursing home, those RNs worked tirelessly days, nights, weekends and holidays. I was always so grateful for their dedication, but I always thought of the families at home who were missing their moms, dads, sisters and brothers...it's tough, especially on the kids. I hope he gets next Christmas off so he's home to celebrate and thank you for sharing your real story with us!! All the best in 2020 my friend!!

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  22. I think a LOT of people's holiday expectations (especially us women) are way beyond what we dream about. We expect everything to be straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. It never is - and we feel deflated. Also, Christmas-time is actually one of the most depressing times of year for a lot of people. All the sad feelings are brought to the surface...people we love and miss that are gone, family that has separated for whatever reason, seeing other people's "perfect" holiday photos on social media, etc.

    We did not watch one single Christmas movie this year! I only listened to Christmas music once. I cut way back on my decorating. Only baked one batch of cookies and those were for Brian's sisters - who never even thanked me. So I won't be doing any baking at all next year, that's for sure. I also took down all my Christmas decor on the 26th - but not in the middle of the night! ;-)

    Sooo...just know, you are not alone in how you feel. Much love and hugs to you.
    xoxo
    Melanie

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    1. Thank you, Melanie. Everything you said is 100% right and true. Lots of pressure to be happy during the holidays, a time when thoughts of family are supposed to be paramount...but if you're missing family, for whatever reason, it can compound those feelings of sadness. I think that's where I was stuck this season. I'm sorry your holidays were lackluster, as well. Love and hugs to you and also here's to spring!! Let's hope it close this year!

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  23. Hello,
    Kim, I did not get on my Christmas until the 23rd! And I still was not 100%. My friend Deb, she never did get into Christmas this year and was trying to make herself last Sunday. I told her to just let it go. She was fretting on what to get people for gifts, including me. I told her I do not need anything, lets us just plan a dinner / game night. I felt a lot of stress was the cause of the lack of Christmas this year. We just do it to get it done with it seems. Sad ;-(

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    1. Some years it's just way harder than others. I honestly don't remember a year quite like this before...I didn't like it.

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  24. I also had a quiet Christmas. So many things I had planned to bake or decorate. Things that I found during the year that 'would be perfect for Christmas' and then when Christmas came--and went--they were left undone. I have decided that I am still going to do them. Over the course of the year they are going to show up on my to do list and out of season or not they are going to get a dry run for next year and those that end up being good will be collected in my new holiday journal. So next week I am making whiskey truffles. Tempering chocolate and filling the professional mold that I bought way back in July. And then I am going to learn to use the embossed rolling pin and the cookie molds. I might not do the gingerbread house. That might be overkill. Here's to a better 2020.

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    1. I think that's a great idea, Lorri. There's no reason why we can't continue the celebration and enjoy traditions a little bit longer. And I giggled at your gingerbread comment, made me think of Auntie Mame. It's like when I listen to Christmas carols in March. The kids just don't get it, but sometimes I need a little festive fix! 😉

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