As I geared up to run after work tonight, I stopped by our guest bedroom to dig out my husband’s old reflective belt from his military days. It’s dark out well before I finish teaching, so I want to be extra safe on night time runs. I watched the Christmas lights as I ran, smiling a bit every time they reflected off of the belt.
I still miss the community from doing Reverb every December. I miss the connection of shared prompts and finding the stories from the last year. Some of my closest blog friends popped up because of Reverb10. Of course, I was also depressed as hell at the time and my stories focused on the darkness of what was actually a wonderful year.
I’ve searched for prompts for myself this year. I haven’t found any that resonated. 2016 has been a hard year for a lot of people. But it’s also been an amazing year too. And I want to focus on the light, the dark, and everything in between.
I want to spend the last month of this year, reflecting on what has been and projecting what I want for the next year. Prompted/guided/accompanied or not, I’m going to go find my story to tell.
The day after Thanksgiving has always been dedicated to Christmas decorating in our house. I’ll never forget when I first learned that my Mom’s parents would put their tree up on Christmas Eve and take it down on Boxing Day. Where’s the fun in that? I’m pretty sure that putting up the tree is my favorite part of Christmas.
My Christmas decorating routine has only varied slightly over the last six years. One year B decorated with me, but mostly it’s something I do while he’s sleeping or at work. I put on the George Winston pandora station and I decorate. Every ornament that we own has meaning. Some from our Weinmachsmarkt adventures, many from our childhoods, some collected more recently. All tell the story of who we were, who we are, and who we are yet to be.
Ever since I collected this medal last year, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with it. I don’t keep my bibs, I sleep in my race shirts, and I have no desire to display a rack of medals. Enter the idea to turn them into Christmas ornaments. I loved the idea, so did B.
As a kid, I had no idea that some people had themed trees. Ours was always themed life. Every ornament was special. My favorite part of decorating now is touching each memory. Turning our medals into ornaments continues that tradition.
It’s an easy enough process. Cut off the big ribbon and string it on something more befitting an ornament. I used hemp because I have so much of it left over from a failed wreath project. Maybe I’ll try and actually finish that soon. I make no promises.
So far we have five race ornaments gracing our tree. We’re picky (B is picky) about what races we run. But I’m looking forward to adding to our collection and storing the memories where I can revisit them every holiday season.
What do you do with your race medals?
Seven years ago I was heading out to my parents for Thanksgiving when a friend called to ask me to meet for drinks. I was already caught in the traffic flowing out of the city so I asked for a rain check. She agreed and picked country dancing that Saturday night.
Thus started the best adventure of my life.
The Thanksgivings that have followed have varied. Our first one in Germany was my first snowy holiday. Our first in Turkey was a chilly night on the flight line where we shared fried chicken and things to be thankful for in a tight huddle. Our first in California one of my dearest friends came to visit.
This year I’m alone, or near enough. B is working, like so many first responders. He’ll spend most of the day sleeping between shifts. And yet, I would rather a somewhat lonely holiday with him, than any other kind with anyone else. Besides, I have two puppies to keep me company.
Still, all for a phone call and missed plans. Who would have thought I would end up here, certainly not me.
The single worst question I’ve faced all week is what I’m doing for Thanksgiving/the Holidays. It’s well meaning small talk, I know that. But. My answer is complicated.
I’m doing nothing for Thanksgiving. Which isn’t entirely true. I’ll make our traditional BBQ ribs dinner, with baked beans and baked mac and cheese. I’ll probably clean the house in preparation for Christmas decorating. I’ll convince my sister to take her Chrome book to my parents so I can video chat with them all. I’ll knit and read. I’ll just be home alone for pretty much all of it.
How’s that for an answer? So I just laugh and say nothing because my husband is working. And quickly ask what they’re doing to deflect away.
The December holidays are equally difficult. I’m so excited to go home to Texas for Christmas. I can’t wait to meet my brother’s significant other. I can’t wait to watch my niece and nephew open presents and share the magic with them.
But. B will be here in SoCal. Working nights and sleeping through the days. I’ll come home just in time for him to work the NYE weekend. And yes, he’ll be off right after and we’ll make our escape just us.
But the holidays are complicated. I’m happy yet I know I’ll be missing half my heart the whole time. Which, living away from family and a plethora of friends is a constant state. I wish I could always have everyone I love near me.
It’s complicated. But. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Much of the pain comes from having so many people in so many places to love. It can’t ever all be assuaged at once. So I’ll live my holiday juxtaposition and be grateful for the people who make life so complex.
I mentioned recently that I’ve been working on reclaiming hobbies. This actually started last year when I took up running. I needed a hobby and it turned into my lifeline. But, I can’t always be running.
Which led to me joining a book club and returning to knitting. Knitting and I go way back. My Mom taught us all to knit at a fairly young age. She claims it was self preservation so we would leave her projects alone. But I wandered often from the hobby. In high school I took up bobbin lacing but nothing ever stuck. Hell, it’s too soon to call if it has now. Though it does feel different this time. Kind of like the running last year.
Thus I’m back to knitting. And with an ambitious project. I’m making my first afghan. I won’t be fast, but I’m definitely enjoying the progress.
Today’s prompt is about the hardest lesson I’ve learned from having pets.
I’ve written before about my rescue, Sam. We adopted her in Turkey. But the truth is that she rescued me. I struggled so much in Turkey with depression and rescuing this pathetic dog saved my life.
She joined us in North Dakota where I feared for her because her hips clearly started troubling her. I debated long and hard about genetic testing for a particular disorder and decided against it. I cried so many tears about her potential fate.
Then we moved to LA. And she just couldn’t deal. The stairs exacerbated her hips. The windows were always open so she freaked out constantly. So I cried a lot more. And then we did the best thing we could for her.
We rehomed her.
It hurt so much. I sobbed over the decision. I stayed up all night just petting her. It was one of the hardest and worst things I’ve ever done. I failed my promise to her. I didn’t keep her forever.
And it was absolutely the right thing to do.
Sometimes you have to make the choice about what’s better for someone else rather than what you want to do. Sometimes you have to break yourself to take care of someone else. Sometimes you have to admit you can’t fix everything. Sometimes love hurts.
Sam taught me to love. She still loves me every time I come visit. She taught me to put what was best for her before what I wanted. She taught me to always adapt and make the best of life. She’s thriving with my inlaws and loves them like only a dog can love their human. She taught me to let go of someone you love when it’s what best for them.
It’s one of the harder lessons I’ve ever had to learn. And I’m so grateful she was my teacher.
I have a full recap of Vegas planned, only I didn’t take any pictures myself so I have to wait to snag them from others. It was completely unplanned for me to go unplugged, but I absolutely loved it. I didn’t worry about capturing the moment and just lived it instead. I was also greatly removed from social media because I kept leaving my phone in our hotel room.
I’ve never done an unplugged challenge, but I do see why people find freedom in getting away from their phones. Maybe I’ll just work on at least hauling my camera around. There were some gorgeous parts of our trip, and I just have to wait and see what was captured by the others.
I may not have planned it, but the break was incredibly refreshing.The weekend was long and with not enough sleep, but somehow my break from over-connecting was exactly what I needed. Now I’m on the downhill sprint to holiday recitals, seeing my family, and then making a big escape with B. This was a good practice run.