Wednesday, November 28, 2018

All I Want For Christmas Is...

I had a lengthy conversation with Lisa this afternoon after she got out of work. It started because she noticed a few things over the past couple of weeks. I was frazzled. Overwhelmed. My array of colorful sticky notes on the kitchen table had grown from a couple to several dozen. I ran out of space on the kitchen dry erase board for reminders. I had gravitated to being my own worst enemy. And, shamefully, I put store-bought bread and grocery store bakery blueberry muffins on the shopping list.

"Are you okay? Did something happen? I know you've been sick for almost 2 weeks, but aside from that, you've gone from looking forward to the Christmas season to being a ball of stress. I want to make sure you're okay and to help out in any way I can."

She's right.

Almost 2 weeks ago, I caught the nasty head and chest cold that Lisa had been plagued with for a week and a half. It's one of those stupid viruses that knocks you on your ass for a couple of days with fever, aches and the chills.

Then, when that breaks and you think you're out of the woods, along comes the congestion that seems to last forever. Lisa's congestion was so bad that she had to be put on a second antibiotic.

She's made a complete recovery.

Me, on the other hand, I'm battling the congestion. It's easing up little by little every day, but I'm not sleeping well at night. My ribs feel like someone is smashing them with a hammer. My nose is red and raw.

So, my frazzled and frustrated demeanor over the past week and a half can be attributed to that. However, Lisa noticed it extended beyond catching her "plague."

Again, she's right.

The gist of the conversation went as followed...

This is the first year we're not making Holiday Bodacious Biscuit Love or participating in any December events. You can read about that here and here.

In the past, from the last week of November until the week before Christmas, I was taking orders, baking biscuit love, bagging, packaging, and scheduling deliveries and pickups.

Lisa was shipping boxes and delivering and making sure we were fully stocked with ingredients and supplies.

In addition, during that time, we spent a few days prepping for an event that we had participated in for several years during the month of December. And we were putting together a ton of raffle baskets.

By the time the week before Christmas arrived, we were exhausted. I had no ambition to do all of the other Christmas stuff like baking. Making gifts. Whipping up delicious confections that I only make this time of year. Etc.

This year, that is all going to change.

I'm looking forward to having the extra time to make gifts and bake cookies and whip up confections and put together lots of Bodacious Holiday Care packages for pet parents in need, local animal shelters, and those who need a bit o' holiday cheer.

That's where I was...

But then, over the past month, a couple of things happened that sank my spirits a bit.

The first, in 2016 and 2017, we've received a very generous gift for the month of December. I referred to this gift as my Work at Home Dog Mom Bonus. We used the majority of that money for the Christmas season to spread the Christmas cheer far and wide from those who needed some holiday love to pet parents in need.

I honestly thought that after all the time and effort and work and everything between that we both put in this year, the "very generous December gift" would remain the same.

It didn't. 

This year, my Work at Home Dog Mom Bonus was decreased by 50%. We were both a bit crushed and disappointed, especially because this year we went beyond "above and beyond."  More so than we ever had. Which, for us, that spoke worlds because we've been burned so many times in the years prior by people we loved and trusted.

We allowed ourselves to dwell in that mode of being crushed and hurt for a little bit. We had many conversations about it. Then, we made the decision to get up, dust ourselves off, and embrace our motto of "face forward, onward march."


There is nothing we can do about it or change it. The only thing we can do is move on. Be grateful that we at least got 50%. Learn from it. Add to our List O' Changes that we're making in 2019.

Enough said. 

The second thing that happened was our washing machine broke beyond repair the Friday before Thanksgiving. The following day, we bought a new one. That big-ticket item cost us a little over $400.

Again, we allowed ourselves to feel a bit defeated for a very short period of time. Then, we turned things around. We expressed gratitude that our second-hand washing machine lasted for 3 1/2 years. We had the money to buy another one because of our strict budgeting. And it was delivered the day before Thanksgiving and the company hauled our broken one away free of charge.

After talking about both of these situations amid our lengthy conversation, I realized where the bulk of my stress and frazzledness was surfacing from.

My frame of mind had shifted from being able to enjoy the Christmas season and doing all of this great stuff to having to offset the cost of the new washing machine and my Work at Home Dog Mom Bonus being cut 50%.

Lisa broke in immediately...

"No, you don't. We budget our money carefully and that has paid off. We have stashes for everything from the kids all the way down to big stuff breaking. 

I know you're still a bit crushed because of the Work at Home Dog Mom Bonus and those are for reasons that go beyond what I understand. Although I volunteered a lot of my time, it was you who gave a very beyond generous "client" discount for a year and a half. 

But, we're moving forward. The last month of the year is only a couple of days away. As with each year, we've lived and we've learned. This year has been no exception. I think this year has hit the hardest because..."

There was a long pause. I knew it still bothered Lisa at this point.

About a minute later, she asked me a question.

"I'm going to be home soon. Between now and then, I want you to answer one question. If you could have the entire month of December to do anything, what would it be?"

When Lisa arrived home from work, she went about her usual routine of emptying her lunch pail, taking the kids out, and changing into her comfy clothes.

I was at the kitchen table finishing up a blog column and putting the final touches on dinner.

Lisa sat down at the kitchen table.

"I asked you a question earlier. I want an answer."

After slathering my lips with Carmex, I replied.

"I want to make some really incredible gifts for the people in our life that we haven't done things for because, over the past few years, we've been so busy. I want to crochet some scarves for those people because scarves provide warmth and when they're handmade, that's love.

I want to get shit done around the house that we never have time for because we've always been so busy. I want to re-pot some plants and get the closets cleaned out. I need to organize the kitchen cupboards especially our baking one. 

I want to set 2 days aside for baking and making Christmas goodies because trying to do both cookies and confections all in 1 day is too much.

I want to get some awesome photos of our kids during our daily routine and some photos of them in their Christmas outfits. I feel like a shitty Dog Mom because I didn't take any photos of our kids in their Halloween costumes and the adorable candy corn hat in October.

I want to write more than "Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" in the Christmas cards we send. That's too generic.

I want to honor our friends and family who did not make it to this Christmas. 

I want to get all of my social media streams for Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life updated and to freshen up the blog template before the first of the year. And add more pages and useful stuff. The goals I didn't reach this year, it's definitely happening in 2019.

When I say 2019, I mean that I want it to be all up and running so that when the first day of the new year starts, I'm there.

I want some time to reflect on the past year. As with every year, we've lived and learned and we'll be making some changes. Like you said, this year is no exception. We're older. Wiser. We're standing our ground a lot firmer. 

I just want to have the time to do all of this and then some..."

Lisa took a sip of her iced coffee.

"Then, that's what you're going to get. That is going to be my gift to you for the month of December. You do what you need and want to do. 

There is no need to offset the expense of your Work at Home Dog Mom bonus being cut in half or the new washing machine. We're all set. We're going to use what we make from the Bodacious 12 Days of Christmas to spread holiday love and cheer and help pet parents in need and get items for our local animal shelters.

This coming weekend, we're going to work together to tackle some of the stuff like cleaning out closets and finishing up the items for the Bodacious 12 Days of Christmas and re-potting the plants and whatever else. That's how we're going to spend the first couple of days of December.

Then, starting on Monday, the rest of the month is yours. I'm putting my foot down. You've done so much for me, our family, this house, and for those around you. 

The month of December is entirely yours."

Much to my surprise, I didn't put up a stubborn fight.

Because I know, deep down, this is exactly what I need.  And it's not just about having the time to do stuff for others. Above all, it's being able to take time out to do things for Lisa, our kids, and our home.

I still cling to the guilt of the many times I encouraged Lisa and pushed her to assist others who, in return, only let us down in one way or the other. Or, disrespected Lisa's time and efforts. Or...

I still cling to the guilt of putting off what we needed or wanted to do because we assisted others who made promises and never followed through or who weren't around when we...

So yeah...

I'm taking the month of December.

To do. Make. Create. Bake. Give. Work. Learn. Grow. Reflect. Focus. Spread some love. Make changes. Stand my ground. Be ready for 2019.

I'll be keeping you posted...

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