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.

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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

I now have rock tape holding me together. There's A LOT more then what I can take pictures of myself, but this is a small part. It's definitely helping!

I now have rock tape holding me together. There’s A LOT more then what I can take pictures of myself, but this is a small part. It’s definitely helping!

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!

We didn't quite get all the twins in the picture (there's three sets total!) but we got one from each set which is really the best you can hope for.

We didn’t quite get all the twins in the picture (there’s three sets total!) but we got one from each set which is really the best you can hope for.

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.

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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:

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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!

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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?