“It’s Looking A Lot Like Christmas”

Jim and I have fond memories of and admiration for the many, many special holidays that our parents provided all the years they were healthy. Christmases were joyous whether or not the preceding months had been difficult or pleasant for them. What an enduring gift!

This season we’re enjoying many Christmas traditions:  The festive wreath and evergreen trees – three this year (Yes, three trees!), decorated with old and new ornaments.  Outdoor lights glowing in the night for all; especially our lighted “Peace on Earth” sign. This proclamation a family tradition and prayer.  The many beautiful, rich and inspiring recorded melodies. Christmas services – this year we’ll attend Gail’s paternal grandparent’s church.  Holly.  Mistletoe.  Colorful poinsettias and flowering cyclamens.  The wonderful challenge of finding just the right gifts for our two fine children, terrific son–in-law and beloved grandchildren.  Grandmother’s ceramic Christmas tree (Alright, four trees).  All of us together preparing and serving delicious holiday meals.  Jim’s hot cocoa, and if I’m patient and persevering, my homemade large German Gingerbread House – this I’ll bake and frost featuring delightful Christmas candies and home-baked cookies!

Our blessings are too many to name; good health to be sure, but always beginning with loving family and friends.

Our wish for you is peace in the Christmas spirit; hope and joy in the new year. Hallelujah!

Christmas, 2017

I’ve been in a far better place during the holiday season these last few years than I was for most of my adult life. My expectations for a celebratory observance were too high, and I and my family suffered. I wanted everything about the Christmas holidays to be perfect: my family, my home and myself. I thought I had to be perfect and put together a perfect feast, with the house looking spectacular and our children fresh and bright and attractive. Buying and wearing new clothes was essential.

I thought perfect was happiness.

I thought perfect was a requirement for having a Good Christmas for myself and family.

I thought that perfect meant I was a good person. My family had to be ideal.

I longed for perfect.

Trying to achieve the perfect house, feast, children and all things Christmas meant control. And I tried for control with my family and house and self at Christmastime.

Actually, exerting control to achieve perfection took a toll on all of us. At times our household was a rigid environment with my husband Jim and our two children walking on eggshells. My family suffered and so did I.

I believed in perfection and believed that if I was perfect my mental health would be more resilient and my depression would improve. Control and perfection were needed for survival.

Surviving Christmas season is not living with affection, gaiety and joy. Or with thankfulness. Yes, Christmas can have hard portions for us all but not be hard throughout. Generosity of spirit, thought, word and deed were and are not possible when one’s efforts are centered on achieving control.

As I recovered my mental health the holidays became more loving, spontaneous and satisfying.

The wish for control hasn’t left me altogether, but I give control its due place. And positive cognitive and behavioral techniques help me manage the impulse to control and subdue the impulse inside me that demands I seek control.

I wish you too can share contentment, comfort and joy this Christmas and throughout the New Year.

Take care and thanks for listening. Gail Louise