The Final Push

December is... not easy.  I forget that, and then suddenly find myself crying and feeling extra sad, and remember that this time of year is full of feelings.  In the last few years, I've found the waning days more difficult to deal with. Even though I know technically the daylights are beginning to lengthen, we are still in that darkest time of year when I leave home in the dark and return in the same once work is done.

Yesterday, after 5 days off work spent mostly in the company of Scott and the kids and no one else, I worked for 7 hours then spent the next 5.5 at a family Christmas dinner.  I'm not an introvert, at least not all the time.  When I take personality tests, I fall almost on top of the Intro/Extro line, getting results in one or the other realm depending on how I'm feeling that day.  Still, going from 0 to pretty much all my waking hours around people proved a little too much for me.

Each year is different, especially since my divorce.  It all ended in December, and the spoken words, and the holiday that followed are a blur of discomfort and sorrow and stuckness.  It isn't as if I am consciously sad thinking about the whole thing.  It's more like my soul has a muscle memory and it's a little bit achy with shadows of ghosts of feelings from the past.

This year, we had our first Christmas morning with just our little family of four.  No other parents, no grandparents, no aunts and uncles.  We sat in the living room in our pajamas, opened stockings, unwrapped presents, and then watched Snow Buddies while we shared a tray of cinnamon rolls, bacon, and scrambled eggs.  We played video games and ate too much candy.  It was lovely and relaxed.

Later in the day, I saw photos from the big Christmas dinner my Dad's side of the family gets together to share each year.  When I was a kid, this was our tradition many years, a car or plane ride to  Pennsylvania and cousins playing pool in my Grandmother's basement, present opening, and so much laughter and so much love.  The pink couch, the kids table in the kitchen, my Grandmother doing the Charleston in her house slippers after consuming just the right amount of egg nog.  I don't feel this nostalgia and longing every year, but this year it was acute, tightening around my heart so slowly that I don't really notice it until it's overwhelming me.  I feel a little disconnected and a little bit forgotten, the gifts I lovingly hand-made and managed to actually send on-time this year hopefully received with smiles, but mostly without a word.

It's not just my east coast family that I miss.  My sister is in the same state, but it might as well be a country.  She's busy and we both work and have kids, and we aren't great at emails or phone calls, and I just miss her so much.  This has grown in the last year or two, I think about her more than I used to.  I wish we could live down the street from each other and our kids could play together and it's just not in the cards.  The good news is that as time goes by, I am more and more in a place where I will finally have time off and maybe some extra money to be able to visit more.  But for now, I found myself last night, acutely aware of long-past traditions and the miles between us.

Today is the 27th.  In 4 days it will be a new month, a new year, and I will look forward to new adventures, to sunrise coming earlier and sunrise later, and to whatever comes next.  Planning a vacation next summer I'm looking forward to, and hopefully a visit to Colville for a long weekend as soon as I can manage it.  For now, though, in this final push, I think this weekend calls for rest and self-care, and maybe some phone calls to the people I'm missing.