Thursday, December 25, 2014

If You Love Christmas, Don't Read This Post

Christmas is all about sugary goodies, holiday spirit, giving, family and love. Oh, and of course, Christ. You go to that special church service and watch small children enact and recite things badly and butcher Christmas songs. And you still go, awwwww, because that's what you do. You go to grandma's, your in-laws', your step-family's get-together, and maybe drink too much at a holiday work party. You shop and wrap until you are physically damaged and you brave malls and cyberspace with enthusiasm to find everyone the perfect gift.

And if you are a parent, you play the special role of Santa, which involves all sorts of tasks that require staying up later than the kids, which can get very, very, very late as they get older.

Most years, I enjoy all of this.

But sometimes... well... I get sick of Christmas.

This year, I love Christmas! Last year, however, my husband and I made a bold decision. We were sick of Christmas and we wanted OUT! That's right. We wanted nothing to do with Christmas last year. We wanted to escape it, as a matter of fact, and that's just what we did.

Home, Christmas 2014, refreshed!

We called the grandmas and asked if they could watch our cherubs (13 and 15 year old girls, at the time), take care of some of our animals, found boarding for our indoor/outdoor dog and special needs dog, handed off the presents, and told everyone, "We're outta here!" We took off and had a fantastic and much needed vacation in Florida.

It was the first vacation my husband and I had alone in 10 years of marriage. We had been so stressed out by raising kids, pressures of work and the feast or famine nature of my husband's job, family matters, church obligations, busy schedules, and the commercialization of what was supposed to be a holiday in honor of the birth of Christ. We'd had it. We just didn't care anymore.

We needed a break. We needed adventure. We needed new surroundings. We needed rest. We needed complete rejuvenation. It sounds like we were being giant Christmas scrooges, but honestly, it was one of the best things we've ever done. More than once, as we relaxed in the warm weather, away from the Christmastime demands of home, we drank a glass of wine with dinner and became emotional, shedding tears of released stress.

We learned something about ourselves on that trip. We learned that it's okay to take a break now and again from tradition. We learned the earth won't stop spinning if we're not home for Christmas. We learned that we are not comfortable living an existence of "making do" and going through the motions day after day, year after year. We learned that we need a break from our kids. We learned that we need a break from family. We learned that we need a break from church. We learned that we needed a break from Christmas craziness. We learned we needed to socialize and travel, meeting new people and seeing new places.

It. Was. Blissful.

Instead of spending Christmas Day doing the same old thing, we instead started the day with a gourmet breakfast in bed plus fresh fruit at the Bed & Breakfast, complete with mimosas on the little porch outside our suite.

Coombs Inn, Apalachicola, FL

My husband went fishing at the nearby ocean. We met another couple from Italy at the B&B (in America celebrating their honeymoon) and on Christmas evening, we cooked them supper. We shared stories with our new friends and laughed and discussed the difference in our cultures. The wife spoke little English, but the husband spoke English fairly well. Giulia and Alberto Alberti were so interesting, friendly, and warm and we really enjoyed our new friendship with them. We could not have had that experience in Vandalia, IL!

Giulia, my husband Neil, me, and Alberto

We came back refreshed and ready to face reality again. And this year, I couldn't have been happier about Christmas. I didn't mind the over-commercialization. I braved the mall, Walmart, and cyberspace in search of perfect gifts. I hummed Christmas tunes. I wrapped presents until my criss-crossed legs went numb. We're participating in all of the get-togethers with joyful anticipation. I attended the church program and appropriately went, awwwwww, because that's what you do. I'm happy that Jesus was born and that we celebrate that birth.

I'm happy to say that we escaped Christmas last year so that we could love it once again. We're considering going away every other year now. I'm giving you permission to do this, too. Refresh. Rejuvenate. And just maybe, once in a while, you might even take the kids.

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. Be safe. Be love. Be free.