Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Spirit of the Season

I truly love Christmas~ the music, the decorations, baby Jesus, the gift giving, the reindeer, the baking, time with friends and family, the over eating.... all of it. Especially the "I believe" and the twinkle lights. It is friggin' magical. One of my favorite things was Thing 2 putting his toy Mary on top of his haunted Halloween castle and making her laugh evilly, "AH HA HA!" Add a wide eyed four year old, a Christmas tree and an Elf on the Shelf and watch as you turn into a kid again too.

I'm pretty sure this is Dasher and Vixen. Although one of them should be named
Grumpy Little Adorable Bastard, and of course that was the one
that I wanted to take home with me.

But as any human does, I occasionally lose sight of the true spirit and meaning of the season while in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Particularly when I am "hypothetically" in Toys R Us looking at overpriced hunks of plastic which are sure to break (especially when one of my children uses them as a sword and picks a fight with a tree- a common activity at my house), or be used as a weapon to clock someone else in the head, or be left in the middle of the floor so when I get up for a glass of water I step on it and quietly- so as not to wake any one's peaceful slumber- curse while holding my wounded foot jumping up and down on one leg. And if I happen to be in Toys R Us while PMSing, all feeling of "Christmas" have exited my body and been replaced with a sweaty, annoyed disdain. For "hypothetically", all I can think of is how many different kinds of flu viruses can be housed in one building, how obscene the amount of cash will be spent and why the aisles are not big enough to fit one cart down, much less try and courteously pass someone without it turning into a passive aggressive game of "I was here first bitch, just back the fuck out and go around" .....

I'm not saying this happened, it's just a hypothetical situation.

Okay, it all happened. Add to that a teething, screaming toddler and an "I CAN DO IT MYSELF! (but he doesn't actually DO it at all) 4 year old and my nerves were RAW by the end of last week. I felt as if I have consumed 16 cups of coffee and topped it off with the blood of a rabid squirrel. It was not good.

I pulled myself together a bit by going to book club on Saturday and then taking the opportunity to go to the store ALONE afterwards. While there, I breathed air without someone clinging to my leg and screaming or arguing with me, and I purchased a few items that were something like 80% off for myself- one being the best sweater ever which I assume I will wear until it rots off of my body. I know that buying for oneself is not exactly "the Christmas Spirit" but when I get the chance to be out of the house without children during blowout sales, I'm taking advantage of that shiz. And the only guilt that I feel about buying for myself is the guilt I have for not feeling guilty.

So, in short, I lost my way, as I tend to do at least once or twice a week, and something happened yesterday that snapped me into the Christmas Spirit so hard that I think I have whiplash.

As I was preparing the house and myself for the arrival of my parents and my sister (I was wearing my awesome new sweater for the third day in a row), I noticed that a package had arrived for me. I looked and saw that it was from a friend that I had made while at camp when I was 12 years old. We had reconnected a few years ago on facebook and were having fun following each others lives and blogs. She and her twin sister are from Kansas and are fellow moms, horse women and lots of fun, so we all have quite a bit in common. She had asked me for my address so that we could exchange Christmas cards, but instead of getting a card, I received a gift. As I opened it and starting reading it, tears welled up in my eyes. The girls sent me a book that was signed by the author- an author that I tried to meet last February at a book signing but the meeting never happened and it broke my heart. The girls wrote me a note which is now permanently affixed to the inside cover. I was seriously the best gift ever.

For the background story, go here.

Do you like my sweater?
 Yeah, I don't really care. It is freaking warm.
 If you do know me, you will grow to hate it because until winter is over,
it might as well be sewn onto my body.

All it takes is one moment, one small act of kindness, one smile..... to (in the words of my minister from his sermon last Sunday) Magnify God, and all of the meaning of spirit of the season rushes back into my heart.

Give it up for Baby Jesus. Can I get a fist pump?
Image courtesy of the graphics fairy.

I am so fortunate and so full of gratitude for my life and all of the freaking amazing people in it, and you can bet your booties that I tell God that- even when I have raging PMS.

So I encourage all of you to give an unexpected gift this year, whether it be to a friend, a relative, an acquaintance or someone you've never met. We gave anonymously to a family in need, and those where my favorite gifts to buy- hands down.

Thank you to my friends whom I haven't seen in person for 25 years. Thanks for being so thoughtful and generous, I LOVE the book and didn't even own her cookbook yet (years of hints to those around me and no one listened). Thank you for making me feel special and loved. And most importantly, thank you (and Pamprin) for bringing the true spirit of the season back into my sight.

Merry Christmas to All!

Love, Johi


  1. Sigh. I am so there with you right now. I feel like such a scrooge and am so stressed and tired (I collapsed in bed last night at 9:00 after bursting into tears because the hubs was mean to me . . . yeah, good times), that I am just not feeling that joy of xmas thing. I feel like I really can't enjoy the holiday season because I really just can't wait for it to be over so I can stop doing so much stuff and being so stressed. I really do have to try to remember to stop for a minute and realize how lucky I am to have an amazing family and those I love all close to me during this holiday season. Thanks for the reminder. I try really hard to get myself in check as often as possible.

    Note: I made a donation to a charity yesterday as recommended by The Bloggess and felt very good for doing it. I love giving to people in need, especially this time of year. It really is what's important . . . helping those who have less than you.

    Oh, and I'm gonna try to only post the same comment ONCE today, ok? Cool.

  2. Great sweater. Seriously great sweater!

  3. Awesome gift! And I know you think of me and only me every time you mention the words "fist pump", so thanks for the shout out. Love you friend....and so excited to spend the holidays with you AGAIN! It's been way too long. And now I'm REALLY looking forward to whatever you pick out of that cookbook to make for dinner! WOO HOO!

  4. Totally awesome surprise gift! I have the cook book (sans autograph) and I love it. Also, I've dropped 8,764 hints that I want the goddamn Heidi Klum freaking perfume. And saw the receipt for a shirt. Oh, yeah. Santa is dropping off a surprise gift for Mama this year.

  5. I was stressing out about what to get my mom for Christmas the other day and M looked at me and said "Mommy, shouldn't we get presents for Jesus instead? It's HIS birthday." Wow. Way to drive it straight home. So often we are pushing Christ out of Christmas without even realizing it. I know I'm obnoxious and irreverent, but I have a true love for God in my heart, and sometimes I just need my short people to remind me to shut the hell up and listen to what He is trying to tell me. Merry Christmas, Johi. :)

  6. I think you hit it on the head. It's way too easy to get caught up in the spending, rushing, bustling, cranky shopper thing. Sadly, my family falls into it too...hustle, shopping, spending, exhaustion, baking...ugh, it's almost too much sometimes. I love the idea of an unexpected anonymous gift. My children always LOVE to pick names off the angel tree and buy gifts.

    I love this post..and your sweater!! Merry Christmas!

  7. My hormonal insanity coordinated itself perfectly for the holiday. I'm in a bigger snit than usual with myself.

    Because I can't bring myself to open gifts before the 25th (I'm not *failing* at thank you notes until I know what I'm supposed to be grateful for), I finally identified the holiday deadlines that I COULD NOT MISS, to relieve the bah humbug spirit.

    My toddler isn't going to know/care if he gets his sticker book and paltry stocking on Dec. 28. The daycare ladies, however, might hold him ransom or worse if I can't put together a gift card and a note.
    Prioritizing saved my Christmas hamhocks from driving into oncoming traffic, or to a mall parking lot to meet a similar result.
    My husband will be less than ecstatic with my lackidaisical approach, BUT HE MARRIED IT. Weekend Christmas and its refusal to provide me with a weekend-before-Xmas to luxuriate in my advance planning mean that I'm won't be able to observe the holiday until it is clambering on top of me to challenge me to a tricycle-assembling (shhh!) duel.
    And to all a good night!