Hubby at a local bookstore wearing
an Emily knitted creation

Fill in the blank:

A) Wonderful
B) Stressful
C) Overwhelming
D) Heart-breaking

Trick question. Actually it’s all of the above.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love the holiday season. There is definitely something magical in the air this time of the year. But then there’s the feeling of being completely overwhelmed by what needs to be done before Christmas Eve. There’s putting up the decorations (still not done), sending out Christmas cards (uh, yeah … also not done), shopping for gifts (not even a third done), and then wrapping all the gifts (not even close).

If that’s not overwhelming enough, then the thought of heading out to the local mall to do some shopping is enough to send me over the edge in the stress department. Ugh. Just trying to find a parking spot gets my (already high) blood pressure rising. And then some people are just absolutely rude when you’re in the stores. I’m not talking about the salespeople either, if you catch my drift.

However outside of any type of shopping area, people are actually very friendly, very giving and very much in the holiday spirit. In fact, I actually enjoy going into work during this time of the year for multiple reasons (one of which I will explain a little later), especially because all the Christmas decorations are all up and there’s always Christmas music playing in our main foyer. Our department tends to do little holiday things, like “Secret Santa’s,” and ornament exchanges and even cube-decorating contests. Not to mention the constant stream of goodies that come in from different vendors each day.

And if going to work doesn’t get me in the mood, then certainly my husband does. He absolutely loves Christmas time. I think it’s mainly because it’s the time of the year that very much reflects his personality. He is so absolutely a giving person. He loves to give gifts to people and doesn’t expect anything in return. The reason he likes to do this is mostly to see what their reactions would be to each present that’s opened; especially because he puts a lot of thought into each gift. I know. I’ve been the receiver of such gifts for many many years … he’s always been an awesome shopper when it comes to me. And because he has such a wonderful outlook on the holiday season, you can’t help but be affected by his attitude.

Strange Guy (holding a Santa) on a
Suburban Detroit Street Corner

But then there’s me. Always Mrs. Pessimistic. Seriously, I don’t think I was always like this. But as I’ve alluded to in past posts, I believe that experiences in my life have taught me to be this way. Up until last holiday season, I would remember feeling very tentative and anxious as Christmas would approach. It’s because Christmas, like any other major event or holiday throughout the year would remind me exactly what I was missing in my life. Every birthday would remind me that I was yet another year older and that another year had past where I didn’t reach my goal of becoming a mom. My wedding anniversary was a reminder that I still didn’t have that family that I dreamt about on the day I got married. And let’s not even get into the whole “Hallmark Holidays,” like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Christmas has always been especially difficult. I believe it’s because this holiday is all about children and family. (Yes Mom, my good Catholic school girl background DOES know that “Jesus is the reason for the Season.” But this is different … ) It’s the time of year where children’s faces brighten with the thought of Santa and of presents. And the time of year when plans are made to reunite with both immediate and/or distant family members to celebrate. I have fond memories of Christmas Eve as a child, excited to be with cousins and exchanging presents with loved ones.

I think it’s only natural to want to continue to do the same thing the older you get. You want to experience making those memories with your own children. You want to see the faces of wonder and joy in their eyes as they see the Christmas tree brimming with presents and their stockings stuffed with goodies. The problem with being infertile is that you don’t have those kids. And when spending time with your family (as well as your husband’s), you can’t help but associate the holidays with some bittersweet emotions.

Last Christmas was incredibly difficult. Truth be told, I totally dreaded the whole season to the point where I didn’t even want to put up our tree. I purposely did not take time off from work during the holidays and volunteered to cover the assignments for those that did take time off just so I could keep myself busy. I threw myself into knitting presents for family members to distract me from the fact that I would be facing all of my husband’s family who would be so excited about his sister’s pregnancy. It wasn’t until December 23rd that my patient and wonderful husband convinced me to decorate our tree in order to get me in the holiday spirit (which, of course, worked like a charm. Smart hubby … ).

Our Kitty Cat, Rain. Doesn’t she
look thrilled to be wearing a Santa Hat?

So this holiday season, especially with all that happened this past year, I’m trying to change my outlook on things. Rather than be pessimistic, I’m trying to be cautiously optimistic. I’m taking what I’ve learned over the last year and trying to think positive. And although I’m still stressed (still have shopping to do) and overwhelmed (maybe those cards aren’t getting mailed this year) with what still needs to be done, I am going to remember that Christmas IS supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.