A Lesson Learned

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” —Francis Bacon Sr.

Never in a million years would I think that 2021 would be closing out for me on these terms. Nor did I think that writing about having Covid would be the way I would dip my toe back into my beloved method of emotional release…blogging.

Don’t fret  ~ my sole focus for this post is not going to be the most controversial health issue of our generation. I prefer to segue into that matter by starting with the holidays or rather the aftermath of the holidays.

My most favorite time of year has always been Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I am a die hard who pulls out all the stops with decorations, food and fun. I know full-well that my love and obsession with the season started when I was young.

Some of my best memories are of “perfect” family times. Fireplaces roaring to life, fresh cut Christmas trees filling the room with their fragrant odor, lights twinkling, smells of turkey and mince meat pies wafting through the air and our best party outfits.

These moments, as a child, seemed like something out of a fairytale. I was truly oblivious to everything going on behind the scenes. As I have grown and taken on the task of delivering those Christmases I have come to the realization that those moments, as cherished as they are, set me up for failure (and I know I’m not alone).

(Me ~ pre Covid and covered in Christmas excitement)

Before anyone goes around accusing me of being BAH-HUMBUG, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth. Let me explain…

Every Christmas I have this vision that comes into my head of what it needs to look like ~ not for myself but for the others around me. I want them to be blown away by the decorations, boggled by the baking and breathless with the excitement of getting everything they ask for.

Every year I spend so much time and energy in creating the “perfect” holiday that I miss out on the small moments and I sacrifice my emotional and physical health by running out at all hours every day to pick up all the things everyone “needs”. Inevitably I end up sitting with an eggnog and rum in one hand and a gluten-free tart in the other hand the day after Christmas watching A Christmas Story and regretting not taking the time to enjoy things more.

Which leads me to my opening paragraphs ~ this year Christmas handed me my proverbial ass on a platter.

After my usual panic of finding (and affording) the basics of holiday trimmings I woke Christmas morning to half the ingredients missing for making my annual coffee cake. A blip on the radar screen – one that I thought would be my worst (and hopefully only) mishap. WRONG!!

Christmas Day Eve found me surrounded a select few loved ones and a dinner that my elderly parents could no longer attend due to fears of Covid. A step I am now looking back on with gratitude as hard as it was to not see them. Dinner seemed to go well until my beautiful Mother-in-Love (no law between us but a WHOLE LOT OF LOVE) started to feel unwell. That night ended with an ambulance trip to the ER for her with a suspected internal blockage and some damage control (cleaning and sanitizing) at home for me and my daughter.

At that point I was teetering between laughter and tears. I was certain that I was at my limit for what the universe would dole upon me….WRONG!!

I started to not feel well the morning of the 27th ~ it started with a scratchy throat which quickly morphed into a respiratory combination of cough, runny nose and some pain while breathing. By the evening of the 29th it was hurting enough when I was breathing to make me concerned about a asthma flare-up (something that affects me during the winter months). Covid was the furthest thing from my mind.

On the 29th I went to our local hospital where they sent me to a special assessment area and unleashed all the tests on me. The x-ray showed a small patch of pneumonia in one lung and I was sent home with 2 inhalers and an antibiotic ~ the slap on the face on the way out the door was the horrid brain poke aka. the Covid swab.

(Me – post brain poke)

Yesterday I got it – the dreaded “You have tested positive.” text. This has led to a 24-hour flurry of phone calls alerting people and sheer frustration and confusion over the rules and guidelines.

All of this to say that Christmas served me the biggest “Fuck YOU” that I have ever been served in my life. It is said that the universe works in mysterious ways and that nothing

happens without a reason. I have a theory about what happened here.

I needed to be given a dose of reality – a dish of “slow your roll” if you will. I needed to take full notice of what I have been doing to myself this and every previous year since the responsibility for this “celebration” has fallen to me.

I have run myself into the ground and lost sight of 2 things:

  1. What makes Christmas special for ME?
  2. The fact that I don’t give a damn about perfection.

I am now on my 5th day of having this virus. I am not here to get into the debate over Covid being real or if it’s deadly or not.  Everyone has their own beliefs and their own fears.  I am here to just share that I am sick and what I have SUCKS! It just so happens to be called Covid. I was double vaccinated and still got it – I have lost my sense of smell and most of my sense of taste. This, no matter its name, is NOT FUN.

So what is my ultimate message here? What do I want to let my die-hard readers (who have waited over a year for me to re-emerge) know?

BE FUCKING KIND TO YOURSELF DURING THE HOLIDAYS!! Yes, you can imagine me (if I had adequate air in my lungs) screaming this from the top of a mountain.

Let go of the expectations that everything has to be magical, that the gifts aren’t going to be right or good enough. Forget the notion that the season needs to be “perfect” because there really isn’t such a thing.

Paper plates will do, food will burn, stocking stuffers will be forgotten, people will get sick, travel plans will fall through, toys that just got given will get broken, batteries will die and receipts will be lost. NONE OF THIS MATTERS!

My inflatable Santa – perfectly capturing how I felt!

What DOES make the holiday season (actually any holiday or any day for that matter) great? What DOES make it seem magical? It is the gift of a kind word, the act of charity or acceptance of charity, the warm hug of a loved one or friend, the smiles shared in the street and the belief that there is a some genuine good in the world.

It is also completely acceptable to NOT be in the Christmas spirit, to NOT want to be surrounded by noise and people and to need to CRY, to SCREAM and to SHOUT instead.

We need to stop putting all this on ourselves. We need to stop and reflect as the calendar turns once again on what really brings us joy and actually needs to be priority in our lives. Life is too short and time is too precious not to.

I am going to take Francis Bacon Sr.’s words seriously. I am going to go into 2022 embracing the person I am and doing what I know I have been put here to do. So thank you (?) Covid/virus/chaos/stress of 2021 for helping push me in the right direction.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing I wish you happiness, health and a sense of fulfillment for you and your loved ones today and all the days of the coming year.

Love D.