I’m haunted this time of year. The holidays tend to evoke a veritable hurricane of ever changing emotions – stress, joy, hope, depression and elation – seemingly all in one day! It’s no wonder people put on weight, commit suicide, propose marriage and quit their jobs during the holidays more then any other time of the year. The Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa season can make us all crazy with love and happiness or crazy with depression and overwhelming sadness. Luckily there are other types of “spirits” to help even it all out.
One of my favorite books, as you know by now, is A Prayer for Owen Meany. I read it every winter. One of the reasons I fell in love with it in the first place was because the author, John Irving, put the death of a loved one into words that made sense to me in a way I had never read before. He especially captured what it felt like, for one of the main characters (a 12 year-old boy named John) during the first Christmas after his mother died:
“Ever since the Christmas of ’53, I have felt the yuletide is a special hell for those families who have suffered any loss or who have to admit to any imperfection; the so-called spirit of giving can be just as greedy as receiving – Christmas is our time to be aware of what we lack, of who’s not home.”
This will mark my 21st Christmas without my mom. I was 17 when she died so I have now spent a lot more Christmases without her then I did with her. It doesn’t seem possible.
I’m still waiting for it to get easier, to not be a “special hell.”
However, I also don’t believe in dwelling or being a grinch. I’m truly blessed for all the remaining members of my family and all my friends. I mostly love the holiday season and I get way into the spirit of Christmas! And, there are many different kinds of spirits this time of year…
WEEK OF DECEMBER 8, 2014
RUNNING: The running spirits that have possessed my hamstring, are slowly loosening their grip and allowing me to run at (almost) full capacity. Since I had such a great week, with little or no pain in my leg, I’m positive I will be 100% by the time I race my first half-marathon of the season.
Total mileage: 26
CYCLING: I had my first spin class snow day. There was a delayed opening in my town on Tuesday so no classes before 10am. As soon as those childcare doors opened, my kids were in there and my ass was on the spin bike. I also hit the treadmill and it all felt fantastic. Little did I know I would be back on Saturday morning covering a class for a sick instructor. It was super fun to be there on a Saturday morning, teaching to a packed class of people I mostly didn’t know. We had a blast!
Total mileage: 70 (all indoor)
In case you’re so inclined, here’s a great indoor run/bike/run workout:
Treadmill run #1: 1.5 mile warm-up (or 10 minutes), 3 minutes 2% incline, 1 minute recovery, 4 minutes 5K pace, 1 minute recovery, 3 minutes 2.5% incline, 1 minute recovery, 6 minutes 5K pace, 2 minute recovery for a total of 30 minutes.
Bike: (you’re all warmed-up so get going!) 10 minute hill climb, 2 min recovery, 10 minute steady speed, 2 min recovery, 5 min hill climb (increasing from first one) followed directly by 5 minutes of steady speed for a total of 34 minutes.
Treadmill run #2: 3 miles at 10K pace
SWIMMING: I was only able to get one swim session in since I was away all day Friday. At least it cut down on the chlorine smell!
CROSS-TRAINING: What else do we do in the Northeast in December? SLED!
RACING: I’ve been racing around like a maniac trying to get all my shopping done. And when I say “racing around” I mean on the internet. I prefer my packages be delivered so I don’t have to go out with the masses. I did brave Target one afternoon and immediately regretted it. It was a rainy day so all the carts were wet. I was tempted to head straight to the bed/bath section to towel mine off. I mean, where the f**k am I supposed to put cards? I shoved them in my purse and almost inadventently stole them. Almost. #firstworldproblems
FUEL: I’ve had a sore throat for over a week now. Just a sore throat with no other symptoms. I was checked for strep and it was negative so obviously I have to eat ice cream.
I put this in solely for my husband. I don’t hardly ever eat dessert during the week unless it’s one square of dark chocolate, which he makes fun of me for. I’m just not big on sweets and all I want is one or two squares. But he was raving about this ice cream so I told him to get me a small scoop. He came back with the carton and a spoon. He said there was “barely” any left but it was plenty. And it was absolutely delicious. I may have to change my weekday policy on dessert. Damn you Ben and Jerry’s!
THINGS I LOVE: Holiday parties! I love when my calendar is filled with Christmas parties. I went to a very Pinterested party, all by myself last week and it was fantastic! Talk about getting into the spirit! What a spread:
We have two more lined up this week and I cannot wait! I’m also hosting Christmas Eve for the very first time. God help us all.
THINGS I DON’T LOVE AS MUCH: Putting the wrong date on my Christmas cards. Yes, I did this. It was 100% my fault. I checked the little box that read “I’ve finished proofreading and I approve these for printing” and they all say 2015. Guess what people? Keep it for next year too!
READING: Obviously I’m not.
MUSIC: I have yet to find the Sirius holiday station. Ok, so I’m not trying that hard. The best holiday song I’ve heard yet was on my new favorite show Black*ish. Have you watched this? It’s friggin’ hilarious! I couldn’t find the song their adorable kids (including twins of course!) sang on the holiday show last week but here’s the trailer from the show:
TV: All the Christmas shows! I love watching classics like The Grinch (not the Jim Carrey version!), Miracle on 34th Street, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Home Alone though my kid’s eyes. The things they pick up on are amazing. And, in hindsight, Home Alone was not a good choice. They immediately wanted to set traps for everyone all over the house, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to find them trying to sled down the stairs one of these days.
RANDOM QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When Santa squeezes his fat ass down that chimney later tonight he’s going to find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nut house!” – Chevy Chase as Clark W. Griswold in arguably the best Christmas movie ever made – Christmas Vacation
What/who are your holiday spirits?
Have you been to a holiday party yet?
Are you working out more or less as the holidays get closer?
I’ve been keeping my same workout routine through the holidays honestly. For me (right now), I am working normally (due to working in the store). So my schedule hasn’t changed all that much.
Good for you! It must be nice to have some normalcy for as long as possible!
You cannot go wrong with Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation ever and yes I am so with you on music and movies though this time of the year-cannot get enough of the classics in general. And by the way I am loving Blackish too 😉
So glad we are on the same page my friend!! Love it.
This is my first christmas without my family, so I am feeling a little strange, but trying not to make it obvious to offend steve and his family. i can imagine that is still hard. CRAZY picture of your leg…..as that area for me is where my tightness is sitting right now! Mine is really bruised as my therapist dug deep to get all the crap out! We seem to be very in tune right now!
We really are. Now if only I could channel some of your speed and cooking talent!
That is very sweet of you to be so sensitive about Steve and his family’s feelings. The holidays have a lot of hard emotions that go with them. Luckily there is so much good to be had with doing something new and different. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you to be away from your family so much of the time! You need to lean on Steve and then have a lot of Face Time 🙂 Thank God for technology!
I didn’t even notice the date typo, Tim and I loved the card, those smiles are too much! Once again we are total slackers and didn’t do holiday cards :(. I mentioned your suggestion from last year to Tim of putting one of our wedding pictures on a card for this year, but he said we missed the boat on that since we were married last year, lol. Your mom was so beautiful!
Aw, thank you so much Jess! And, there is no statute of limitations on wedding picture Christmas cards. It would have been the opposite of mine! In fact, we could have done a combo card – Christmas past and future!…maybe next year 🙂
Love your honesty of how tough the holidays can be. Many do struggle with loss and Christmas can be a sad time. That quote was beautiful! Xo
Thank you so much Leah! I’m sure you are cherishing all the time with your family this year, after the scare with your husband. Hold them all extra tight!
Ah so much good stuff!! The card is funny because most people can’t remember it’s a new year until March so you are wayyyy ahead of the curve. Also, I’m sure no one will notice because the boys are just so cute!! You already know I adore black-ish!! Glad your hammie is getting back to normal. Ben and jerrys is just evil and your husband sounds a lot like mine except he plots my desserts every single night! Haha.
I know it’s so hard without your mom during the holidays, thank you for sharing that with us because it helps to hear it. I know I personally think of my loved ones and how I wish they could be here during the most joyous time of the year…it’s not easy but you are doing a great job and you know that your mom is with you (and your boys!) always.
You are just the best Nellie. Thank you so much for writing that. I really take it to heart and know that you not only get it, but you care very deeply about it, because that’s just who you are! I love it. Thank you and, you’re absolutely right about the card. Not a single person noticed until I put it out here!!…either that or they’re all just being nice.
Here’s to watching Black-ish while eating Ben & Jerry’s!
ahhhh we move this week and Im SO SO SO GLAD it serves as a holiday pressure hiatus!
You bet it does!!! Enjoy it! xoxoxo
That is an awesome workout!! No wonder you run as fast as you do. 🙂 Yes, holidays are definitely a tough time when someone from your family is no longer there. You have a very balanced approach but I’m sure it’s hard. And the holiday cards- at least you do them! We cheat and do a holiday newsletter each year… it takes a little work to write, but then we email it out so I get to skip all the address labeling work.
Very smart about the holiday letter! I bet you had a TON to fit in this year.
Yes, that workout was a tough one but it felt so good. It also helped that I had company on the treadmill for that last 5k!
Thanks Laura 🙂
That was one big, packed post! First off–the holiday cards. LMAO. Seriously, the best! If it helps, mine have disappeared somewhere out in the postal wasteland, so we may not have any at all this year!
I’m sorry the holidays also bring sadness for you. Our church actually has a special service called “the longest night” at this time of year just for people who miss lost loved ones. I really like that idea.
Have a great, stressLESS week, my friend!
Yes it was – total brain dump from an overwhelming week!!
So glad I could give you a laugh with the card and that truly sucks that yours are lost in space. WTH??
What a wonderful idea for a service. That is really so great that they offer that and are sensitive to it. It really helps just to know you’re not alone with those feelings around the holidays.
Thank you Amanda! I SO appreciate it!!
The holidays can definitely be a tough time. I’m so sorry you feel the loss of your mother but am glad you have lots of other loved ones to help you through it!
Thank you Kate! I really do feel so lucky for all that I DO have.
I’m sorry that you feel sadness during the holidays. You have a great support system with all of your friends and family! No holiday parties on my horizon but I wouldn’t have time for them anyway with working both jobs now. I had to laugh at the Home Alone thing. I actually told my oldest when he was your kids’ age that he wasn’t allowed to watch Home Alone because he drove me nuts with trying to be like Kevin! The kids still make fun of me about it. LOL!
Thank you Kris and you really should make some time for at least a little holiday partying 🙂
That is too funny about Home Alone. I wasn’t thinking when I let them watch it. They obviously loved it but then they starting setting “traps” and I was like “noooooo!!!!!”
Allie, I absolutely love reading your blog posts. It’s like picking up a good book and not wanting to put it down.
I guess it’s because you’re so real and your humor is awesome!!
The holidays seem to bring so many emotions as you stated so well!! Since my grandmother passed a couple of years ago, I feel sadness during Christmas time from missing her so much. Her birthday was (is) on Christmas Eve so it’s a constant reminder that she is in heaven celebrating with Jesus. My grandmother once told me it’s okay to feel sad and just cry. Sometimes that’s the best way to understand the true meaning of happiness. So to lift my spirits ever since she has passed away I will take out a Christmas card (well I usually do this for all the holidays because she was my Hallmark idol) from my grandmother and pretend it came in the mail. Then I hang it up and smile. So Allie, you’re never alone and just remember you’re such a wonderful and inspirational person to so many. Even though I only know you through Chrissie, I still feel blessed!
Tiffany, I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. Seriously, thank you so much for writing this and letting me know about your wonderful ritual for your Grandmother. I think she gave you the best advice when she gave you permission to cry. When I was growing up we were taught to keep our emotions held to a degree, and to be “brave” and not cry. A good friend of mine recently told me that I need to cry and FEEL it and then I can let it go. It’s the best advice I was given. Thank you again for sharing this with me. Some days I think writing this blog is silly or self-centered, but it’s comments like yours that keep me going! Merry Christmas and continue keeping your grandma’s spirit alive!
I’m glad that the tape is helping some!!!
I just did our cards yesterday – not sure I will even look closely at them now that I picked them up – if they are wrong, they are wrong!!!
Actually I should be working on address labels right now but….
Hahahaha!!! I’m sure they are just fine. If not, don’t tell anyone and they won’t notice a thing!…now go start those labels 🙂
I JUST started working out again! I’m so excited. And by working out I mean like the easiest, most gentle exercises ever but it’s a start!
I did 100% of my Xmas shopping online this year and I love it. So much easier!
Good for you! That is great Britt. You must feel so good – about exercising and online shopping 🙂
Just say that they are New Year’s cards! Ours say Happy New Year 2015, so just go with that. I have one or two more gifts to get, and I have to hit the mall for my mom’s, but I’ll go tomorrow morning so it’s not too crazy. I hope.
No one even noticed! If they don’t read my blog, they will have no clue. Good luck at the mall. You should be good to go on a Tuesday morning. Hopefully.
The pictures look great and I agree Christmas Vacation best Christmas movie out there. We quote it in our house all year long.
I can relate to you, my dad died when I was 18, 3 months before I graduated high school. It doesn’t get easier, we just get used to a different life without that person in it.
You do get used to it and, I think about my mom every day but Christmas and birthdays or anniversaries can be especially hard. I’m sorry you lost your dad. Losing a parent when you’re a teenager is a tough one, although I suppose there is no good age.
So sorry about your mom, I know it feels. ALthough I still have my mom, we lost my grandma right after Christmas last year and she was just as important to me as my mom. It just won’t be the same this year. Part of me is jealous about the sledding and then I remember how much I hate snow. I like it for like the first few hours when it looks pretty and then I’m done, lol. Sorry you have this lingering sore throat! I have been sick for going on 3 weeks now, and I”m talking haven’t left the house in 3 weeks kind of sick. Dr thinks I might have pneumonia….yea, not ideal considering training for Paris was supposed to start TWO weeks ago. Haha, I can’t wait to watch Christmas Vacation next week. My other favorite Christmas movie is Elf.
That is awful about your grandma. They can be such an important part of our lives and it’s especially hard when they die around a holiday. I’m really sorry. I’m sure it’s not helping that you’ve been sick for SO long!! You’re going to feel like a million bucks when you go out for that first run 🙂 You have plenty of time to train – just focus on getting well. And by that I mean watching all the great movies you mentioned!
Wow, that Pinterested party looks amazing! I don’t know that I’d want to throw one, but attending one would be a blast. Cassidy actually does stuff like that.
The holiday card is adorable!
I get weird around the holidays. All sorts of emotions. I’m not a winter person so no matter how good the holidays are, and they are good, I still like life better when it’s easier. Less colds and flus. Less putting on boots and mittens to go anywhere.
I had a throat virus for a week or two a few years ago. It was strange! It hurt a lot but wasn’t strep. Went away just fine!
“Weird” is a good way to describe some of the feelings I have about Christmas and winter too. Although, I do mostly love the winter…even in March when I’m so over it!!
My throat is finally better after two full weeks of pain. Strangest virus I ever had and so glad to be rid of it!
I love everything about the holiday season! Even going to the mall! In my keep in simple Christmas this year I politely declined most holiday parties but the few I’ve gone to were wonderful. I’m looking forward to hosting our annual Christmas eve dinner.
So happy to read with little or no pain! Yay!
Thanks so much Jill and I love that you embrace Christmas with everything you’ve got…which is a lot! That is fantastic. Enjoy!
I think online shopping loves me because I’ve been going bananas on Etsy and Amazon – gift giving has never been more fun!
OMG seriously. Esty is my new go-to!