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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Blessing or Obligation December 23, 2015

How easy it is to complain about the holidays. How much time and effort it takes to find and purchase "just the right" gift that our relative might not appreciate fully. How much money it costs to make the family dinner or to travel to our relatives' home where the food is what it always was, but our tastes and nutritional needs have shifted. How much we really don't enjoy the company of the relatives or perhaps of their friends who are invited this year. On and on we go, finding fault with our families and with ourselves for "doing it their way" instead of sticking up for our own needs and wants.
What's so special about getting together with folks we seldom see except at holiday time, weddings or funerals?
Why not make holiday time about us, about our friends, with the foods we want to eat and the people we want to socialize among?
Why should we do something if it doesn't make us happy in the moment?

What is it about the holidays that leaves many of us feeling empty, like we're "not good at family" relationships. What is it that makes us judge the relatives who don't show up?

Maybe we feel that since we make the effort, after a lot of quiet complaining, everyone else should too. It's only fair, right? How do we feel if we don't participate? What is left to feel special about?

What holds the holidays in place? If everyone feels as the complainers do, why are so any people crowding the airports and highways to get to these mediocre overstuffed dinners with relatives we see so seldom?

There is no right answer, no one way to handle these stressful times. We remember when we were children, we idealize the past where we can, we whitewash the sad or angry moments, the disappointments. We make jokes of the minor calamities, but we hold on to the relationships we have because in a heartbeat or a series of years, they will all be taken from us. We need to carry on the traditions of our families, to keep the connections, to provide fun times and good memories for the children because we were there once and our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews will be in our position sooner than we think. We need each other, even those who see or speak with each other only a few times each year.
Call if you can't visit with family and find people to share the holiday spirit, open up your heart and let the good shine in.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Responses to Loss December 9, 2015

I lost my husband to the scourge of Alzheimer's disease on July first of this year. I felt not only the terrible loss of my life partner, but the huge loss of the resonsibility of caring for him during the length of his illness.
I wondered for a time how I would fill the hole left in my life by his loss and by the removal of that daily, hourly responsibility. I reveled for a while in the freedom I now had, to choose how to spend my time, where and with whom. Thre were so many relationships that had been put on hold, so many lectures, books, performances. I threw myself into a kaleidoscope of activities.

From July until the beginning of December. And then I caught pneumonia. Even though I was at the gym every morning, took three yoga classes and three execise classes each week plus a dance class and a Zumba class. I worked on my posture with an Alexander Technique person and a Feldenkreis instructor. I hosted two dinner parties and a tea.I ate well, walked miles every day, I felt energized and healthy.

So where's the connection? Coincidence? I can see coincidence if I developed a cold. Or even the flu from being in the confined air of an airplane cabin. But this is more than that. I'll tell you the clues.

One: I cleaned out my husband's "stuff" that was special only to him from his New York hobby room. I gave away his clothing, except for two sweatshirt jackets I couldn't part with, not that I would wear them. Two: I have yet to clean out his special "office" in our Arizona home. I just can't get myself to do it, although I did find his Army dogtags that his son asked me for.
Three:  The health insurance company sent me a new identification card. I went for an xray on Monday and I was obliged to fill in the forms. For the first time I circled "widowed." And in "relationship to subscriber" I entered "self " instead of "spouse". Twinges of pain I have been running away from for the past five months entered my system not directly at my heart but just behind it, in my left lung.