Christmas went better than I could have thought. I had a really bad stomach virus on Friday and spent the morning throwing up and the rest of the day sleeping. I know that doesn't sound like it quite goes with Christmas going well. However, having the crud forced me to rest and forced me to let my family take care of me. It also forced me to baby my stomach the next day. Ok so I still couldn't eat a lot but Malt O Meal in the morning and saltines with pumpkin butter to snack on throughout the day. I had to eat something small every few hours or else I started feeling really crappy again. I even managed a small amount of Christmas Eve dinner at my in-laws house without an overload of guilt. I just felt too crummy to worry about feeling guilty. And so, in a matter of speaking, having a stomach virus may have just saved my Christmas.
My Christmas Eve attitude started out great but turned sour. My kids made up for how wonderfully they had behaved on Friday when I was sick by fighting with each other ALL DAY on Christmas Eve. They were cranky and at times downright nasty with each other. They were ugly and defiant toward me at several points. It was just rough. I actually had quite the fight with my middle child about putting on his shoes right before we left for church. By the time we were all in the car, we were going to be late and I was so cranky that I figured we might as well skip church. It didn't seem right to go to worship when I was just pissed off about life.
But my dear Hubby, being the wonderful man that he is, knows that Christmas Eve service is my favorite church service of the entire year. Nothing touches my heart quite like gathering with fellow believers, others who are broken but trust Him anyway, worshiping, and singing Christmas carols by candlelight. There is something about it that grabs my soul in a way that nothing else ever has. I hunger for this one service all year long. Hubby knows that. He didn't let me back out. And I'm ever so glad he didn't!
I've been having a really hard time feeling the Christmas spirit this year. I've just wanted to curl into a ball and sleep through Christmas and wake up in 2012. Christmas Eve at church, I finally felt the first glimmer of joy for the season. The church service was enough to carry me through the big gathering of family at my in-laws house. I smiled like I was supposed to. I made it through in one piece! Yay for that!
We got home and my grumps returned. I was annoyed with Hubby for something dumb like being tired after working back to back graveyard shifts and taking care of a sick wife, or some such nonsense like that. I don't really remember why I was annoyed with him but I was. After he went to bed, I stormed around the house wrapping the last of the presents, halfway hoping that my temper tantrum would wake him up. My house was a disaster, like what you would expect after nearly 2 weeks of sick family and the last of it being the parents. But it made me even crabbier. I finally gave in and went to bed. I was so angry and depressed when I finally went to bed.
I fell asleep with tears in my eyes praying for Jesus to bring me the hope, joy, peace and love that this season of advent is about. He did. I woke up to a clean living room, courtesy of Hubby who woke up early to make sure I woke up to a pleasant atmosphere. What a guy. I had felt really like a jerk for being disappointed with one of my gifts from last night. My in-laws ALWAYS give me a Starbucks gift card and this year they didn't. I didn't tell anyone, not even Hubby that I was disappointed with the substitution because it just felt rude. They really were trying to get something they thought I'd enjoy. Hubby told me that Santa had brought me a stocking stuffer but my real gift is coming next week in the form of a spa day. I looked in my stocking to see a $25 Starbucks gift card. I seriously cried. He was so confused that I cried over a gift card. It wasn't the gift card that brought tears, it was that God was bringing me hope.
I managed through Christmas breakfast with the in-laws and Christmas dinner with my folks. I still couldn't eat the fudge or drink punch. BUT I did indulge in a couple of my mom's cookies. She made my all time favorite cookies because "it just isn't Christmas without butterhorns". I told her that several years ago; she remembered and she made them. I did feel guilt but it wasn't overwhelming like it would have been 4 days ago. There was even something almost comforting about those cookies.
On the way home I asked Hubby to drive a little to look at the lights and I realized why the cookie was ok and why I had asked to look at lights and why I love Christmas. Almost every happy memory I have of my childhood is in some way related to Christmas. My mom slowed down a little, she was less demanding of my perfection, she criticized less and life at home was just easier. Then there were cookies galore that I got to "taste test" for her, making trips to the USO to deliver cookies to the soliders on either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, dressing up for Christmas Eve service and walking into church on my daddy's arm feeling like a princess, opening presents on Christmas day, reading to my hearts content for 2 whole weeks until school started back up, songs and Christmas movies and Monopoly with my brother. I haven't tons of fond memories of childhood, but I have very few memories of Christmas that aren't fond.
I made it through Christmas and was even able to find some of the traces of joy that I know Christmas usually holds for me. I'm not super, but I'm way better than last week.