It’s 5 days from Christmas Day and I’m smiling. And have been for the last week everywhere I go- work meetings, doctors appointments, the grocery store. Somehow I’ve found myself being in the total opposite place I assumed I would be a month ago- filled with holiday spirit.
Honestly, I was gearing up for a mental war fare with a range of emotions with an expected battle with emotions that would leave me upset, drained and defeated by the time Santa came. You can even read about it in the piece I had published on Elite Daily earlier this month.
However it seemed that the world nor Dr. R (my therapist) would let me fall for that old trap. Maybe it’s because I’m in a strong, stable place emotionally for the first time in almost 3 years for the holiday season. Or maybe it is because I’m finally gaining confidence to start new traditions and letting go of old ones. And honestly, I think it speaks volumes to the fact that all of the self-exploration, life changes, and relationship evaluations over the past 2 years is actually paying off for the best present of all=inner peace.
Oh, and having a cat dressed up like a reindeer doesn’t hurt either. Here are a few of the Christmas traditions and fun I’ve filled my time with over the past month:
- Put up a damn Christmas Tree and plugged in every night- Living in a shared house can be lonely, despite having 3 other roommates. Opposite schedules make it so that sometimes I only see one of the roommates once every few months. With limited space and time, decorating used to be a challenge. The first Christmas I moved in, I went without my own Christmas tree which was a bad idea. Last year, I picked up a 3ft Charlie Brown tree that’s pre-lit and fits perfect on my dresser. Each night when I get home after a 10 hour day of working, the first thing I do is plug in the tree. Instantly the lights help me relax. It really has helped me remind myself that this year is full of finding my own holiday season- including my own tree! And the best part is that it goes right back in the corner of my closet in January! And after the first 2 days, Annie tries stopping to eat the branches.
- Watching Christmas Specials on Television- Growing up, watching holiday TV specials was my favorite part of Christmas. There is something special of watching a cartoon that’s been airing since the 1960s each year. It was not until September that I had a TV in my apartment. When the Pope came to Philly earlier this year, I ordered an antenna to pick up basic channels. With access to CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX, I’ve been able to watch The Muppet’s Christmas, Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and my favorite- It’s a Wonderful Life. On the Saturday It’s a Wonderful Life aired on NBC, I spent the evening drinking egg nog and soaking in the cheesiness of the movie.
- Took an Ugly Sweater Party Seriously- Last year I attended my first ever Ugly Sweater Christmas party thrown by one of my best friends, Kim and her boyfriend Greg. Not appreciating the idea of buying an ugly sweater to wear one time, my beloved #Selfie sweater was worn. However this year, I decided to go visit my parent’s house to raid their closet. As many of my fellow 90s children can recall, our parents had some pretty God awful sweaters. Sequins, glitter, ribbon- all in neon colors. To my delight, the sweater that stuck out in my memory the most was tucked away in a back closet, not seeing the light of day since 1999. To my surprise- the sweater won me first prize this year, making me a proud owner of a bottle of vodka and a flask! Of course, when I told my mother that her formally beloved sweater won the prize for the ugliest sweater at the party she was a bit hurt.
- A Cheesesteak Christmas Adventure- Although I was born and raised in Philadelphia, it wasn’t until I moved downtown 2 years after graduation that I began to really know the city. There are still city traditions and rights of passage that I’m discovering all the time. However, my grandparents made sure that my cousins and I experienced one of the most timeless Philly Christmas traditions- the Wanamaker’s Light Show (also known as the Macy’s Light Show). The great thing about the 15-minute light show is that is has been identical for years! My best friend Nikki, also a life long Philly resident, never experienced it so we spent a Sunday night exploring the city. First the light show, then a walk through the Dicken’s Village on the top floor of the Wanamaker’s building. From there, we made our way to the Comcast building to watch the Christmas light show in the lobby, next was the Christmas Village next to the City Hall Christmas Tree, then to Franklin Square for the flashing light display then capped the night off by getting ice cream at the Delaware River WinterFest. The ironic part of the whole trip was that it was December 13th, and the temperature was 72 degrees. The song White Christmas playing all over the city could have been renamed to Sweaty Christmas.
- New York Christmas- One of the major perks of going to college in New York City was having the ability to experience the magic of Christmas time in the Big Apple. No where in the world does the holiday on such a large scale. Honestly, my love affair with New York City started when I went on a school trip to see The Radio City Christmas Spectacular for an 8th grade trip. It was my first time in NYC, and I remember turning to my dad letting him know I would be living here one day. Being able to share the excitement of the city with my niece is something that I have been looking forward to since the day my cousin shared with me she was pregnant. Finally she’s 6 years old and was ready to share in this special day. Netflix has the entire show streaming, so she knew what it was and asked to go. To make it more special, I took off last Tuesday from work and surprised her before she left to school! In a span of 8 hours, we went on her first train ride, her first visit to Time Square, her first time seeing a live show, her first time seeing The Rockettes, her first time seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, and her first time seeing the Macy’s on 34th Street– where she begged to see the ‘real’ Santa. By the end of the day I was broke, exhausted and every muscle in my body hurt. But the look of excitement on her face made my entire year.
- Put presents under the Charlie Brown Tree- There was a time not too long ago that finding the perfect presents for people would drive my to the brink of insanity. However now that for most of my friends, we decide to do a dinner or a meal post holiday- it cuts down on the amount of actual gifts I
- buy. Even though there were only a handful, it still was fun yesterday wrapping the presents. Instead of shoving them in a plastic bag like I did last year once the wrapping was finished, they went under my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Perhaps it is the Santa-hat wearing cats on the wrapping paper, or the upgraded coziness factor, but looking at pile brings a smile to my face. However a certain Christmas cat could not get over the fact that the boxes were not all of her toys. Let’s just say she was not the best helper as I was trying to rip pieces of tape, fold wrapping paper and make sure that her claws did not tear any of the finished products.
- A Holiday Break fit for a Child– So many times I hear my friends and I lament that Christmas vacation is wasted on the youth. Now that I’ve been working for 4 years full time, winter break is a distant yet fond memory. However, to reward myself for the hard work I’ve put into my career the past 12 months I decided to take my own Christmas break, identical to the ones I had growing up. From Wednesday December 23 through Sunday January 3rd, I will be off from work. The longest amount of time that I have ever taken off from work-ever. Realistically, when the New Year starts I am going to go full force into relaunching two websites and won’t be able to take more than a day off without falling behind. Now with the office quiet, and colleagues being off, this is the perfect time to unplug without feeling too much guilt. Sleeping in, art projects, shopping and writing will be how I spend those days. As the days get closer my giddiness grows! As you can see, Annie has made it quite clear that no work will be done on her watch.
With only a few days until Christmas, perhaps I am speaking too soon. But I think that this year, I’ll continue to swerve myself from going down the Grinch Themed path. Updates on how the actual holiday pans out will soon follow<3