December 24, 2017

Finding Gratitude For Christmas

I hate to admit this in a public forum....but my Christmas spirit died years ago.

To put it bluntly, there were too many traumatic life events that color my perception of Christmas. Maybe it started with the Eugene-OR-to-St-Louis move that was prompted by a failed relationship...or losing an unrequited love to a fiance...or one aunt visiting the emergency room, leading to her death by ovarian cancer six months later...or losing another aunt in a car accident two years ago...

Let's just say that the period between December 15th and January 2nd is not one of my favorite periods during the year. During this time, I have a greater sense of melancholy and loss, feeling like I have lost out on much throughout the year.

Yes, I blame my dour Eastern European disposition, don't you?

This year has been especially hard - for many, 2017 has been a combination dumpster fire, train wreck, and Rob Schneider movie. Even with my recent move and job search issues, it has been especially tough. It meant...well, I had decided that I was giving up on being "part of the group". Yes, as I head for a milestone birthday, I decided that I really was going to become one of those old men who shakes his fists and yells at those damn kids to get off my lawn...

But something else happened this year....I actually found that I have these strange people in my life called friends.

(Now here's where this post becomes one of those "St. Louis-via-Chicago" posts that Roger likes to read).

Back in St. Louis, I had a pretty cool life: my own apartment, a semi-regular social schedule, and a plethora of relationships and friendships. I wasn't exactly King of the World, but it felt like I was being a fully functioning adult. When I had to move back to Chicago, I felt like I was stepping backwards. Yes, I had old friends from high school and past jobs, but it felt like I hadn't really grown up at all.

But this past year, I've been able to connect (and reconnect) with friends in a way that I had not allowed myself in the past. I managed to make amends with several people. Other friendships revealed themselves to be much closer and more intimate than I had perceived. Many people stepped out of my past and back into my life, even if only on Facebook...

Ironically, I had developed a similar life to the one I had in St. just looked much different. I still had the same opportunities, but here in Chicago, I have to travel a little longer. Despite the fact that my life's been...very complicated (not just by caring for Mom, but also in matters too delicate to disclose), it's been a revelation that I have most everything I'm looking for...and that I'm working through the issues that keep me from going full out.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still very "Bah, humbug" about Christmas. But this year, I'm feeling more grateful that melancholy.

Maybe one day, I'll feel the "joy of the season"...but for now, I'll settle for "it's less crappy than in the past"

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