Christmas – what’s up with that?

So it’s Christmas Eve, and I’m out in the car listening to the news. One of the stories is about singer Rod Stewart, and the fact that he is hoping to get all his kids together this Christmas. Now Rod has eight children, with five different women, and apparently they have never all been together. Not once. Granted, being Christmas Eve it was surely a slow news day but really.

The fact that so many families today are blended, or broken, or dramatically altered is commonplace I know. One of the (many) things I hate about this festive season is that, like a wedding, Christmas brings up every existing and potential land mine of difficult relationships and opportunities for bad feelings.
The pressure to create a “Walton Family’ atmosphere creates great stress in families that don’t fit the mould anymore – if any of them ever really did. Whether you have lost a parent this year, have children who are living far away, or have other issues – including financial ones – which can keep you apart, the pain of separation is exacerbated by the forced gaiety of the traditional Christmas gathering.

For me, it is the loss of my Mother’s company that is stinging this Christmas. Locked in her dementia ward, I was hoping to bring her home at least for a few hours, but the visit with her tonight at the home proved to me that it wasn’t going to be possible. I have several friends who have lost parents in the last year and will be missing that person as they gather around the table. For the first time in his entire life, my eldest son will not be with us for Christmas dinner. He is spending Christmas morning at home with his fiancĂ©e, and having dinner with her family. That’s how it works. I get to have them both on Christmas Eve and I’m grateful for that.
I remember clearly when my mother-in-law protested that my husband wasn’t going to be there for Christmas morning by saying “But you have to spend it with your family!” To which my husband replied, “Mom, Leslie IS my family now.” That still makes me smile remembering.
So this Christmas, try to be nice to everyone that crosses your path. Be patient and calm. Accept that things are going to change – they always do. Make the effort, and make the best of it. Enjoy the small pleasures. It’s just another day and it’s almost over.
Merry Christmas!

Learning what matters….

When I was nineteen I went to Miami with my boyfriend. He 12 years older than me, and we were there for him to run in the Miami Marathon. The morning of the race, as all around the runners stretched in preparation, a local t.v. new team came to interview a Miami woman, probably in her 20’s, who was favoured to win. She sat on the ground, in wide running shorts and a running bra, and continued her stretches as she answered the reporter’s questions. Obviously distracted, with only minutes until the start of the race, her answers were short and pretty snarky. In the middle of the interview, she leaned over her own thigh, covered one nostril at a time and blew her nose violently onto the ground. Gotta tell you, both the reporter and I were taken aback. My jaw actually dropped.

At the time, I was still very much a French Poodle of a girl. I spent a great deal of time looking in the mirror, blow drying, then using the curling iron on my highlighted hair. How I looked, and how you thought I looked was pretty much the most important thing to me. Smart enough that it was never an issue, I concentrated on fluff – basically I used people and valued things. I am almost sickened to remember that probably many days would pass at that time, without me giving a single thought to the well being of any other person. I was young sure, but seriously self-centered and self absorbed. Being stoned 90% of the time probably had something to do with that as well.

I’m not like that anymore. With the patient teaching of many, including my mother, my husband and the hundreds of people I have met in the rooms, I think I have become a much better person. Certainly I use things and value people.

When I think of the woman marathoner today, I have completely turned around. No longer shocked at her earthy, animalistic behaviour, I marvel at her bravery and self awareness. She won by the way.