Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fighting for my Christmas Joy

by Kelly

Below is a shot of the current state of my dining room.

Festive, no?

My original plan was that I would have my house all decorated by December 1st.  Clearly that didn't quite work out.  But it's not only my discombobulated house that is causing me some distress. While decorating our Christmas tree over the weekend, I discovered that over half of the lights from last year didn't work. Which required two {TWO!} separate trips to Home Depot.

On top of that, sometime between when my dear husband put it up and when the timer kicked on, approximately three-fourths of the lights on the garland around the front door decided to quit working.  And then finally, adding insult to injury, I discovered that the entire string of lights on one side of the outdoor fireplace completely stopped working.

By Sunday night, all of this exasperation on top of the bottomless laundry baskets and my dog’s ear infection left me with a serious case of the Sunday Funk.  And instead of feeling joyful, I was more like a Halloween wee-atch. If you know what I mean.

Sidenote…I can be a real delight to live with sometimes.

Now, I would like to just state for the record that I know this is not the end of the world. I mean the minute I used the words 'outdoor fireplace' in the context of a statement about my life's frustrations it became a prime example of #firstworldprobs.  

But, yet…sigh….I just wish, just this one month out of the year, that real-life could take a back seat to Christmas. That everything worked the way it was supposed to.  That magic and joy could just come easy. 

Yesterday morning, I was standing at the bar in my kitchen.  Waiting on my bread to toast so that I could smear a spoonful on peanut butter on it.  Looking out into the backyard at the lopsided fireplace lights.  Feeling irritated at the lights, but especially because here it was only December 2nd and already, real-life was chipping away at my holiday joy.

I took a bite of my peanut butter toast and asked myself if I was going to just stand there and let this happen. If I was going to let negativity rob me of what is rightfully mine.  And I don't know, I guess it's the redneck in me, but all of a sudden I knew what I had to do.  So I put down my toast and I said, “So this is how it’s gonna be huh?"  I knew that I would have to fight for my Christmas joy this year.

Honestly, Terri’s post yesterday could not have come at a better time.  And standing there in the kitchen, it dawned on me what I needed to do...I started waging war on my holiday frustration with gratitude.  Yes…gratitude….my secret weapon against the holiday funk. 

So once I sort of got my head and my heart turned around, I was able to reconnect with my intention for the holidays.  Connect with where my true joy lies.

About that time I remembered that I had an extra box of lights that I could use to wind around the front door garland and it wouldn't take too long to wrap them right on top of the ones already on there.  Then I reminded myself that Martha Stewart was not coming over to inspect and I would not receive a failing grade for not having my house decorated already.  And to my inner Martha who likes to remind me of everything I’m doing wrong, well I shared some choice words with her as well (words that I will refrain from repeating here since we are a G-rated blog).

So I would love to know, where do you find joy in this sometimes frustrating time of year?  Share with us either here in the comments, on our Facebook page, or in the Flickr group or Flickr Phoneography group, how you fight back when real life tries to steal it?  If you are on Instagram, make sure to tag your photos with #focusingonlife and share your joyful moments this month with us. 

As for me and my imperfect life, surrounded by all the mess and frustration, I am going to continue fighting for my Christmas joy with gratitude. 

Love, Kelly


Katie said...

I make lists. Then I make more lists to remind me of the stuff I need to do on my first list. And I stick to my daily routine like glue. Then on top of all that, i make SURE to remember to stare out the windows in perfect silence every day for 10 minutes and let my mind go blank. I know that sounds silly, but it helps. I also cut myself some slack: like you said, Martha Stewart will never come to my house. Hang in there, Kelly!

Unknown said...

I can feel your pain with the garland down the stairs going out 4 times all different sections! Guess what.....I strung right over the top of those (insert not so nice words) lights!! hahahaha Stay Joyful my friend and we will laugh with eachother when things go wrong! :)

Kim Stevens said...

I think Murphy's law says it's not Christmas without some light mishaps....I had every intention of having my Christmas up a bit early this year...and then my in-laws came and not one thing has happened. The boxes are out just waiting for me. I think it was two years ago when my beautiful pre-lit tree just was done lighting...we tried everything, but for the past few years it had been slowly dying. I think the last Christmas with it, I had one string that was still working by Christmas morning. I cut myself more and more slack every year...I'm down to one tree now instead of four, haha. I'm hoping today that I can start opening the boxes and I think I will look for my very tiny nativity first to remind me where my real joy comes from this season. Hang in there Kelly and know that you are not alone! xo

CarolHart said...

Oh those pesky string lights! Almost every year at our house there's an issue with the lights. These days I set aside one day specifically for the lights; plugging them in to test, replace bulbs, and getting them on the tree. I don't proceed until one or two days later just in case there's a light issue. As for outside, we solved that problem by installing rope light along the rooftop perimeter that we leave up all year and simply plug them in during holidays and parties. These challenges are a sweet reminder of how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads and a home to decorate and a loving family to remind us of the joy of the season... It will all work out Kelly!

terriporter said...

Oh, Kelly, I have definitely had years when I swore the lights were out to get me! One string goes out, you replace it only to have another go out ten minutes later! I would get so crabby during tree-trimming time that I totally lost the joy of the season. But I had set my standards way too high. I bought a string of red lights for every string of white and then pulled out every other one and interchanged them. Yes, it was gorgeous but man, how crazy can you get? Several years ago I said ENOUGH! I bought a pre-lit artificial tree, something the Martha in me said I would never do, and it was amazing how much that brought back the joy! Yeah, so all my lights are white, so what? Now I try to make it as easy on myself as I can and quit striving for perfection (well, at least somewhat!) Hope that tree is now up and lit and your fireplace is as well and you can get on to focusing on the joy.

Dotti said...

Stringing the lights on the trees was a flash point for my husband and me so we finally bought a pre-lit. Easy-peasy. Until last year when one section went out. We figured we'd just put a string in that section rather than buy a new tree this year. Guess what? A second section was out. Fortunately Ms. You Can Never Have Too Many Lights insisted on a 100 bulb string and so we had enough to fill in both dark spaces. The key to me is 'simplify'. I did have my anti-Joy day yesterday trying to get a double papasan chair home in my Prius, fretted about it all day. Guess what? Slid in that car like melted butter. So the JOY that had eluded me all day was suddenly right there to be celebrated. It's really the imperfections that make the days of December memorable, don't you think? {Keep telling ourselves that!}

terriporter said...

Love that attitude, Dotti!

Cathy H. said...

Ah, those Christmas light! I had four strands only half working this year. They went in the box working and came out not worked... go figure. But, I did not stress, I always buy new boxes when they are on clearance and have them ready with the absolute certainty that more will go out next year. Funny thing...I have one strand that is probably 30 years old and just keeps on shining!! Taking deep breaths and going outside with me camera always helps me! My tree is up, lights only, but I really like Kim's suggestion of getting out the nativity first. That will be the next box I look for! Joyful Holidays to you, Kelly!

Sarah Huizenga said...

I find joy in reading delightful blog posts like this, keeping the holiday season real. It is raining buckets outside right now, but I am thankful that I am dry in my nice warm house, have an internet connection and have household chores to do. The basics that many would probably give their left foot for.

Carol said...

I went down into the horrible dark crawl space to get my Christmas stuff and..... found some paint! Started painting my daughter's room, and am now painting two pieces of furniture to go in it. And what about Christmas? Ummmm - i never finished getting the boxes out! But if I had - the tree would be dry by Christmas anyway. I don't usually even start until the 15th. So I am with Carol H - go with your whims, go with your heart and have fun! Not worth stressing over the beauty you still need to make when there is so much natural beauty all around you! Go take a walk with your camera, say a prayer for those you love - and have fun with the season!

Peggy said...

I loved this post and could feel your frustration. It's just that some of those days can be like that...nothing goes right and you are left pulling your hair out. When those days happen to me I just say that it's just one day and tomorrow will be better. Then I think of all the wonderful days I have had and like you I become grateful. It isn't the end of the world because I had a few problems. They are only lights. Such little problems. I'm glad you posted about this because we all have been there.

Linda said...

Can I just say your dining room table looks much better than mine? Still full of this and that. I decided the decorating would be finished just in time to take it all down! And I'm OK with that! So happy you let gratitude get you over the rough spots!

Unknown said...

My sweet little granddaughter decorated our tree this year. All of the ornaments are in one spot. A section of lights is out and a funky toy has been stuffed into the middle of the tree as the angel. A plastic tub with extra ornaments is sitting by the tree and the skirt is lobsided with the velcro closures in the front. My daughter said the tree looks like a cross between a Charlie Brown tree and something from "who-ville". To me, it is hands down the most beautiful tree we have EVER had. Our tiny "martha" (2.5yrs) examined each ornament before selecting the prettiest princess ones to adorn the tree. She was so proud of her work and I gave thanks over and over for this moment. Be damned ole grintchy spirit--it is Christmas time!!!!

Roxi H said...

LOL We pulled our tree down from the attic at lunch and half the lights aren't working. Oh well, I'm fighting a cold and I don't care today. The decorating mood just hasn't hit yet. (I still have too many good pumpkins around!)

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