Every Christmas since 1990, the year when my father was in the hospital for a week during this season and had brain surgery, my mom lost her job and our apartment was burglarized and everything we owned was taken, I have cringed at Christmas carols, lights, trees (I actually didn’t have a tree until I had child #2) and way too cheerful holiday sweaters. I almost failed my Spanish class in high school, jeopardizing my graduation because I refused to sing “Silent Night” in Spanish, or any other language. There are years I couldn’t even get out of bed on Christmas morning because I was so depressed. No, I am not some spoiled brat who can’t get over herself. Yes, I love Jesus and I understand the reason for the season. Yes, I understand that was over twenty years ago. Then Miles died in December. And here I am, still struggling with the holidays. I decided to take a different approach.
I decided to take the attention off of the things that stress me out the most; money and fitness. I saved this year and instead of running around at the last minute trying to buy my kids’ Christmas things, I already had enough money put away. I ordered most things offline at a a reasonable price and paid CASH. I promised myself to be in a good position financially. I also wanted to teach my children the value of Christmas (and a dollar) so I really put thought into what I bought instead of just buying the stuff they will never use. I also decided to not wallow in self pity. I didn’t “need” that Dooney purse so I took it back and spent it on gifts for an Angel Tree family. And a bike for a kid who may not get one. Or someone whose dad may be in the hospital or has had their house broken into and no longer has anything.
I also decided to work on my fitness. Yeah, I know.
See, exercise keeps the depression away and keeps me from wanting to sit up and eating chocolate and chips, which is what I would have done in previous years. Eating horribly partnered with inactivity is a SURE FIRE way to feel WORSE. I have been exercising on top of teaching and, while I feel tired, I feel better. I shared with my class last night about how hard the holiday season can be on people and if they knew someone who was having a hard time, they should invite them to come to the gym. Little did they know that I was giving myself a pep talk to keep going because yesterday was HARD and I wanted to drop the mic and leave. I felt encouraged because they were there and I didn’t know what THEY were going through. I WANT to feel better. Leaving would have been giving up. That’s just not my nature. At least not anymore.
I still struggle. But its hold on me is less. I am breaking free, one prayer and burpee at a time.