It was the day before Christmas

by Matilda


It’s the day before Christmas day and I am feeling reflective. I want privacy, solitude and quietness. Too much to hope for during this time of year? I certainly thought so, but the universe conspired to give me just what I needed.

Still in my pj’s, writing this post and my faithful shadow, Mickey.

We don’t really celebrate Christmas. We have a tree, a few decorations and presents for the children. Usually we are either at my parents or at the in-laws. This year Christmas lunch would have been at my parents house, but now it isn’t. My daughter cannot be with us for Christmas this year as she is with her boyfriend and his family. So, we had an early Christmas lunch with my parents while she was with us. Parents’ lunch – done.

For the first time in many years we will, surprisingly, be at home for Christmas. It is just me and the boys. We don’t have and agenda, we don’t have activities, we didn’t even plan the meals. We will play it be ear. As I sit here, typing, I realise that this is what I require – peace and quiet.

I will be spending today and tomorrow, focusing my energy on my core family. Not with exuberance, but by being thoughtful and present. I miss my daughter dearly, but I know she is in the right place at this time.

Winston Churchill said: “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.” Merry Christmas!

Matilda xo

Festive Expectations vs. Reality

Woman Taking Photo Of Christmas Tree

Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, or found yourself on some inspirational Pinterest pinner’s site, only to come away feeling like a failure? You are not alone. The reality of Christmas this year for me, versus what I see pinned so eloquently to different social media pages, is vastly different. Last night, I invited my children to come around for dinner so we could finally put up the Christmas decorations. My granddaughter lives with us with her single mother, my daughter. I desperately wanted the home to look and feel Christmassy before she leaves today (Friday the 6th), to go visit her other Granny for a week.

I always put the decorations up around my home, myself, on the 1st of December each year. This year, I’ve been holed up in my bedroom upstairs, following an almost complete, foot reconstruction, and have been unable to navigate the stairs alone. Even if I could get down the stairs on my bottom, there would be no way I could hold my crutches, keep my balance and decorate. It was just not going to happen this year! I had to call in the help of the troops. Hence asking the other children, who no longer live at home, but are in town, to come and help.

Four Brown Gift Boxes Near a Glass Paneled Door With Wreath

This year, I was going to make my own wreath! My goodness, so many expectations crushed due to my circumstances. But I think the one who is most disappointed about it all, is me. The family were helpful in their own way. They jokingly commented that I would probably rehang all the tree decorations before they came back to visit, or at least those I could reach from my chair next to the tree. I laughed with them, saying that I was just so happy they agreed to help, that no matter what it looked like, I was just happy it was all up and festive-looking.

The words were barely out my mouth and I could see there was more than one decoration on a single twig of each of the branches of the tree. My OCD kicked in, and I hailed the only girlfriend, to assist in removing any decorations that were doubles on any twig, and asked her to step back and take it all in and see if there were any gaps. She surprised me by moving a whole lot of the tree ornaments around. Oh dear! I really am a bit OTT at this time of year.

I will possibly decorate downstairs when I’m able, but I have to admit, I loved having everyone over last night. All the laughter, the conversations and the easiness of it all. You see, we are a blended family with his and her children, and the greatest joy if I’m being completely honest, is that we get to share this season with all our children who live near enough to spend it with us. They come and go as most of them have significant others to also spend time with. But there’s joy in our home. I don’t think my OCD is going anywhere, but all these beautiful people in my life, know how I am and accept me as I am! They may tease me, but it’s all in good spirits.

Wishing you and yours much love in this season ahead. Do remember that being together and loving one another, trumps any beautiful setting, any day!

Belinda xo

It’s the season…

It’s the season to be… haggard and stressed. I am not feeling jolly – at all.

Christmas and the end of 2019, is rushing toward me at a disconcerting speed. December has caught me off guard and now anxiety has a grip on me. I struggle to switch off at night. I forget to make lunch. I catch myself staring vacantly into nothing – my son standing next to me, wondering if he should phone his dad. But mostly, I hold my breath.

I don’t consciously choose to do intermittent breathing and obviously this doesn’t help me function better. A lack of oxygen to my brain may be the very reason for all the vacant staring and forgetfulness.

Why, I ask myself, why do I feel so stressed? We don’t even really celebrate Christmas. We have lunch with my parents or in-laws and exchange small gifts. There is no full on Christmas mode. We do not decorate or have any special traditions.

In South Africa, where I live, it is now summer and the summer holidays. The schools are closed for the holidays and most people are looking forward to spending time with family. I did say most people, but not all people. I do not look forward to spending time with my extended family on a hot, sweaty day in Africa. I will be doing intermittent breathing all day.

I actually do know why my oxygen count falls this time of the year. Maybe if the decorations and traditions were my triggers, I could plan and do something about it. People aren’t so easily managed. My mind runs all the possible scenarios of what could happen on Christmas day and then I try to plan contingencies to get the best possible outcome.

My deepest wish for my family is to love one another unconditionally and authentically. That will probably not happen. The next best thing is to not have an “incident” when we choose to be in the same space. I’ve always felt responsible to keep everyone happy, to lighten the mood, to diffuse the tension. Well, I’m done.

I will focus on my children, especially my nine year old. The other two and my husband can fend for themselves. I will not be the jam that keeps this sandwich together. And I will remember to breathe.

Matilda xo