Christmas Traditions and Gratitude

At this time of year, so many people struggle to be happy with everything going on in life. There are just so many reminders of what should be, or what could have been.

For years after my mom and sister died, I dreaded December and Christmas. I hated everything about celebrating family, as half of mine was gone. The first year after the car accident, I distinctly remember putting up the Christmas tree half-heartedly and alone. A few years later, when my Dad had re-married, I remember coming home from my part-time job to the house completely decorated. My Dad, step-mom and step-siblings set up the tree and put out all the decorations without me. I took one look at the living room, no words were shared, and I walked down the stairs to my room and cried. In my mind, decorating for Christmas was a family activity, and I was not included. Hurt was an understatement, and so for the remaining years that I lived in there, the pain remained and I never partook in decorating.

With time, I decided that I could not spend the rest of my life dreading this happy time of year. When Mr. MPB came into my life, we began developing our own traditions to make sure we always enjoyed Christmas. Traditions like:

Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

  • Christmas decorations go up after Mr. MPB’s birthday and come down before the New Year. We always pick out our Christmas tree together and enjoy our time together decorating the tree together, as a family.
  • We stay home for Christmas and do not travel. We spent many years spreading ourselves too thin by travelling to visit all of our out of town family. Eventually we ended up so exhausted and miserable trying to make others happy, so we decided a change needed to be made and now we spend Christmas at home as a family.
  • Now that we do not travel we spend quality time with local friends throughout the holiday season. We always have a great time visiting with all our friends.
  • We walk the dog on December 25, regardless of how cold it is outside.
  • We cook and eat amazing food for a week. Every year we prepare different meals and usually they turn out amazingly. We’ve already started thinking about this year’s Christmas week menu. Currently Goose and Venison are on the list, but there is still plenty of time to revise our menu.
  • MPB and I forgo traditional Christmas gifts for each other and instead prepare epic
    Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

    Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

    Christmas stocking for each other that generally go way overboard. I spend months preparing the perfect stocking for Mr. MPB and enjoy every moment of it.

  • We watch all kinds of super girly Christmas movies – Love Actually, Serendipity, Four Christmases, Miracle on 34th Street, etc. (Truth be told, this isn’t one of Mr. MPB’s favourite parts of the weeks leading up to Christmas, but he generally partakes with minimal complaining).

This year I am adding one more new tradition to my Christmas list. As an extra way to see and embrace happiness, I have decided to create and share a list of 12 things I am grateful for this holiday season.

  1. My blogging friends and supporters. Each one of you, those who comment and those who quietly follow, have given me so much love and strength. I am truly honoured and thankful to have you all in our corner supporting us as we trudge through life.
  2. Sadie, our furball, is a constant source of happiness and joy in my life. I love that dog so much and every single day I am thankful she is in our lives.
  3. After two years of only being allowed to walk our dog for 20 minutes a day, I am now running and cycling regularly. Mr. MPB and I have hired a personal trainer to help us in our quest to return to being more physically fit. A large part of our decision to stop trying and turn to adoption was about living a healthy lifestyle not consumed by loss and so we have decided that one more very important step in that direction is to be physically fit.

    Photo Source: Office.com Clip Art

    Photo Source: Office.com Clip Art

  4. The one great thing about not trying, is my ability to drink wine and delicious Candy Cane Martini’s! This may sound silly, but i can drink again without any concern for my cycle day.  I am so happy for the simple pleasure of s stress free, non-guilt ridden glass of wine.
  5. I am thankful that one of my mentors asked me to help with some work in the last few months. While the work has been minimal, I have been thankful for having something meaningful to focus on even if only for a few hours at a time. And of course, the extra income has been pretty nice as well.
  6. We have two family members who have been particularly supportive of us through the last few years. I am so thankful for their love and compassion.
  7. Our adoption references. Without knowing what they said, I am fully confident that they had only positive things to say and we are thankful for their efforts and love. Their positive words are a necessity to help us grow our family so to say we are thankful is an understatement.
  8. Everyone loves getting presents, but I really love giving presents. I love finding the perfect gift for each person, I take great pleasure in
    Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

    Photo Source: Adapted from Office.com Clip Art

    wrapping the gift and I love watching the excitement on people’s faces when they open them. Everything about giving presents is wonderful and I am thankful we are able to share enjoyment with others in our lives.

  9. Our counsellor. She has been a life savour and a constant support to me through the last two years. I don’t know how we could have survived all of this without her being a rock and providing us with encouragement and love throughout our journey.
  10. I know a lot of people struggling with infertility and RPL, really struggle through the Christmas season. For some reason, for us, this is one of the rare times of year that is not marred by a miscarriage. So at this time of year while we remember what we have lost, we make an effort we will focus on what we have – each other, a happy marriage, a delightful furry dog and loving friends and family.
  11. Mr. MPB is the love of my life and I am thankful every single day that we choose each other, we choose to invest in our love and we choose to build our family together regardless of the hurdles that at times feel insurmountable.
  12. I am thankful for everyday that I see something that makes me smile.  I am thankful that through most of the last few years I have been able to find happiness and hold onto the moments that arise. I think without these moments I would have lost myself long ago.

If you like this post, please feel free to share it and please click the follow button on the side or return to myperfectbreakdown.com to follow my journey.

 

36 Comments on “Christmas Traditions and Gratitude

  1. Thanks for sharing, I love hearing about other people’s Christmas traditions! I was particularly touched by the one where you always walk Sadie on Christmas day, no matter how cold it is outside. Awww!!

    Like

    • Thanks! I must say, last year was a pretty quick walk given the temperature, but we still did it. We enjoy this particular tradition because growing up both of us never really went outside on Christmas day and this get us to enjoy the outdoors together as a family. 🙂

      Like

  2. I love this post! Although I can’t wait for the day that J and I finally get to play Santa for our own little ones…there’s just something about Christmas where I just cannot be sad, even if we are still waiting for our little ones to arrive. I love the carols, I love being with my family, eating, watching Christmas movies, and like you…I love finding gifts that will make people happy. Although, I will admit I totally love getting gifts too but that’s because I find ripping wrapping paper off so enjoyable. Anybody that knows me well knows not to put my presents in a gift bag, lol. Wishing you and Mr. MPB the Merriest Christmas!! Hugs 🙂

    Like

    • I too look forward to the day we get to play Santa Clause for our own little ones, but for now I just enjoy doing it for my friends and family. 🙂
      I get your point about enjoying getting gifts too. I never complain when I get something thoughtful from someone in fact I almost always smile inside and out. I always just feel so touched, honoured and loved when I receive a gift. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This post really made me feel so Christmassy and excited for the holidays! I love your own new traditions and I teared up at the thought of you coming home to an already decorated house as a child. The good news is that you and your husband will be able to bring a child into these lovely rituals and give them what you might have lost. Xo

    Like

    • You are so right, the silver lining is that our children will always get to enjoy the lovely rituals! Heck, I will probably go over the top and they will roll their eyes at their annoying mom. But, I am so excited for the day that they can roll their eyes at me! 🙂

      Like

    • The whole no traveling part has been such a significant change for us, we love it!! We are continually reminded by some family members that we are selfish for not traveling, but honestly it’s the best thing we could ever have done! It’s like our Christmas present to ourselves. 🙂

      Like

  4. Love this post. You’re an a amazing soul. It’s hard to get through this it really is. And you’re doing good. Love the stocking tradition. I would LOVE to do that but I have no chance with hubs!!! And I love my fur babies as well. One is currently tucked up in bed And the other has gone walkabout forcing me to get up! Constant And continual love.

    Like

  5. Beautifully said! This will be B and my first Christmas day completely just the 2 of us. Though we’ll be celebrating with family over the weekend, I’m worried that it’s going to be a rough day for both of us…maybe we should both come up with lists like this to share with each other and cheer us up!

    Like

    • After our first Christmas at home we both, we both knew we’d never travel again on Christmas. We had such an amazing time together! I suggest trying to fill the day with simple happy things to do together/ 🙂

      Like

  6. I love love loved this post. We are slowly creating our own traditions that don’t erase, but replace in a way that’s like overlapping stickers, the less happy memories that I have from childhood. We also do a Christmas hike- and try to do a new section of the Bruce Trail. I like your idea of Christmas at home. Being the childless ones, we always end up spending hours driving to see family for Christmas, sleeping in uncomfortable beds, the dogs all unsettled. I always end up feeling a little resentful. Plans have been made for Christmas this year, but maybe I’ll work on putting us first next year. Thanks for sharing your traditions and showing that there are so many things to be grateful for.

    Like

    • I love your analogy – overlapping stickers. 🙂
      I absolutely understand being expected to travel as we are the ones who live furthest away it has always been on us to travel. We used to fly between parents on the on December 25, trying to appease everyone. After a few Christmas dinners of beer and pizza in airports due to snow storms and being blamed for ruining Christmas for the family, we simply decided it was too much. We felt like we couldn’t win, and decided someone deserved to be happy at Christmas and so we chose ourselves and always tell our families they are welcome to visit us at our home. We still get to hear about how horrible we are for not traveling, but we’ve decided to stand our ground and we love it. Honestly, it is the best selfish thing we have ever done! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t want to make light–so many beautiful things here–but the wine and martinis stand out! How about buttered rum by the fire this season? Just something about that freedom, that simple delight, that makes me happy for you:).

    Like

  8. What a great post. One of our traditions is to watch Christmas Vacation each year on Thanksgiving to get us in in the holiday spirit. We watched it this year, but it didn’t really get me in the spirit (I’m struggling this holiday season.) But I think creating a list like this is really great and a way to focus more on the good things and less on the things we want to change. To shift the thinking. I might try this 🙂

    Like

    • Oh, I should add Christmas Vacation to my list of movies! Thanks for the idea.
      I hope you are able to find a few little things to help bring out your Christmas spirit – I really appreciate how hard this time of year can given all the grief we face. Part of why I wrote this was to help shift my thinking, and it really did help. Selfishly, I’m hoping you write a gratitude list, because I’d love to read it. 🙂

      Like

  9. Oh, I love this post so much!! All your Christmas traditions are so lovely and get me super in the holiday mood. I especially love the idea of doing elaborate stockings instead of traditional gifts – I might have to steal that idea from you! And I envy your no-travel rule! I think soon hubby and I are going to end up putting our foot down on the travel because it is just so exhausting and expensive. Your list of 12 things to be grateful for puts such a smile on face too. This post inspires me! xo

    Like

    • The elaborate stocking are so much fun! I highly recommend it.
      I also absolutely recommend the no travel thing. Truth be told, we started it a few years ago with the idea that it would be best to start it before we had kids and the expectation of travel would be harder to break. (Yes, it was another one of “those” decisions). But, honestly, we love it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this. Such a heartfelt post, it made me feel a few different emotions (which is the mark of a good writer!) but ultimately I’m so pleased you’re looking forward to the holidays. You really deserve a great end to the year ❤

    Like

  11. I love this post! Full of emotion but positivity too. I need to make a list too, I need focus on the positives. x

    Like

  12. Your story about your dad and step mom and siblings made me cry. I can’t understand how they excluded you that way and I am so glad that you and Mr. MPB found each other and have made your own traditions together. I especially love that you go all out on stockings instead of a big present or two. My husband and I have our wedding anniversary right before Christmas so we decided the year we got married to forgo presents and go all out on stockings too and it’s my favorite new tradition that we started together as well 🙂 Your list of gratitude is beautiful and so inspiring. What a amazing idea and a lovely way to embrace the spirit of the Holidays.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for your compassion. I like to believe that my parents just weren’t thinking, but I honestly have no idea. We’ve never discussed it.
      Mr. MPB and I were also married right before Christmas – December 18th. And, I love that you guys do the stocking tradition too!! It is just so much fun!

      Like

      • We normally forget our anniversary in the rush and expense of Christmas, so this year we have decided to set a $10 price limit and we have to use the hallmark anniversary gift list as inspiration. I still don’t know what I’m going to do, but I think it will be so much fun!
        Happy almost anniversary! December is going to be a really busy month in your house!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Happy almost anniversary to you too! I love your plan! What a great idea!

        We always follow the traditional gift list every year and this year it’s copper. With the added expenses and the baby coming, we decided to do something for the baby instead of buy each other gifts this year so we’re getting our first baby booties bronzed to put in little man’s nursery and hopefully he’ll want to have them as a keepsake one day.

        Like

Thoughts? I love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: