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Friday, 22 December 2017

Happy Holidays!

It's the night before the night before Christmas, and all through my home, the holiday spirit is stirring, finally, unleashed, ready to roam.

It's that time of year again; the winter holidays, usually a time of family, friends, food, and looking back. I know you're all likely very busy, so I won't keep you long. Just wanted to share some thoughts before the holidays begin.

For most of my life, my holiday traditions were fairly set, oddly consistent despite the surrounding change and chaos. Stockings, snacks, gifts, big dinner with extended family and friends, leftovers, sister's birthday, the holidays were the best time to get my family together, and that was always the magic of the season.

Now, I live halfway across the world, and my sister lives just inconveniently too far from home. We're growing up, and things change, and while the spirit lives on, it has taken me a little longer to get into it this year.

Mostly due to being busy, and isolated. I've had work to do, and I work from home, so I have not been bombarded with media or pressure for the holidays. I have not heard a single Christmas song, nor watched any related movies, and while Strasbourg has a lovely Christmas market, I have not taken the opportunity to see it, yet.

This season, above all others, comes with societal pressures. The pressure to get gifts, to visit people, to make phone calls, to be excited, all of this weighs down on us. Even the best of intentions, sharing holiday cheer, can sometimes backfire. This has happened to me; if people around me are excited, I sometimes feel opposing thoughts, for no discernible reason. 

In my initial effort to get into the holiday spirit, I wanted to share these thoughts. It helps me process them, but also if you have similar pressures in your life, I'm hoping that reading this will help. 

So, how am I going to enjoy the holidays? How will I deal with the expectations laid out before me? 

Same way as I approach every day of the year, with expectations set and met by me, with effort, communication, and gratitude.

While I cannot visit my family this year, I have so many ways to connect with them! Over the phone, Skype, social media, and I was prudent enough to send some of my thoughts via card-form last month. While society pressures us to buy gifts, I mostly use Christmas as an extra calendar reminder to express my feelings for the people I love. I miss everyone back home, but knowing that they are happy and safe is enough for me.

Next, in writing this, I've mentally prepared myself for the excitement of Christmas. You read that right, I have prepared myself to be excited. That's just how it works for me. I resist spontaneous emotion, which has advantages and drawbacks. But, in writing this, I've relaxed, and am ready to move forward.

After I finish this post, I'm going to put my phone down and take the time to really enjoy the decoration of my home. My girlfriend has arranged things so beautifully and while I've shown my appreciation, I haven't yet truly embraced the joy that comes with it. Every time I write a blog post, she jokingly asks if it's about her and how great she is, so I will just say here and now that she is the reason our house feels like a home, she is the reason our home smells like banana muffins, looks festive, and is welcoming. I have done very little so far to get us ready for the holiday season (busy as I have been with work), so I am doing my best to catch up, first and foremost by embracing the joy that is around me.

Finally, I am going to embrace the events around me. I have some friends visiting from Canada and I'm looking forward to showing them around. I'm using this opportunity to see the Christmas market for myself, and hoping to bounce their novel enthusiasm off my own. We have some dinners and such to attend, which should be fun, and I'm going to spend the remainder of the holidays catching up with all the wonderful people in my life. 

This post has run a little longer than expected, but hopefully you found it a quick and enjoyable read. I know so many things can stress us out, from the minutia and chaos of the holidays, to social media, expectations, and dissatisfaction over the smallest things, but I hope the holidays approach quickly, but progress slowly. Not boring, not laborious, but warm, and full of laughter.

To all those I personally know, I miss you all, and look forward to seeing you again as soon as I can. To everyone here, thank you very much for reading, thank you for a supportive and productive 2017, and I wish you all a happy, safe, and joyful holiday season!

And, if you'd like some more company, feel free to check out my latest podcast on the holiday season!

Also, I'll upload pictures from the holidays here, closer to the new year! Stay tuned!

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