It’s November! Thanksgiving month! My birthday month! My husband’s birthday month! My mama’s birthday month! (My cuspy Sagitarrian heart sure does love a Scorpio).

The official start to the holiday season!

This time of year can bring so much excitement, joy and anticipation to our hearts. I love being a mama during the holiday season. I love being a wife. I love being surrounded by our families, our friends. This will be the first holiday season my sister has been back in Phoenix and I can’t wait to create new holiday traditions. We are so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so much love.

But the holidays can be hard too. Half of my family is a half a world away. When we unpack our Christmas decorations, it’s hard to not feel the hole my cousin Colleen’s passing left- she LOVED garland and lights and everything about the magic of Christmas. Her Christmas village is sitting in our garage, hoping to be unboxed this year.

I think about my mom, waking up alone on Christmas Day in her dingy Tempe apartment, missing her old life with my dad. I think about everyone waking up cold, alone, hungry or in pain.

It’s this perspective where I reflect on what’s most important.

I think back to the last few holiday seasons and my firm commitment to being “busy”. “Busy” has been my favorite state- whenever anyone asked me “how are you?” It used to sound like

“Good!” (Followed by a heavy sigh), then, “Busy! Just crazy busy!”.

I used to love wearing busy like a status symbol. Like I was fighting to be first in line for an award being handed out

to only the good,

only the productive,

only the worthy and responsible mothers of the world.

Busy was an excuse for forgetting important things, forgetting important people. I’ll never forget last December when I left my daughters BFF (and her mom) waiting on us at our favorite Boba place because I’d forgotten we’d made plans. ON HER BIRTHDAY. (Shakes head).

Busy was a reason to deny myself the things I wanted in an effort to be the best martyr.

I’ve noticed in our culture how much society embraces a harried, overworked and underappreciated mother archetype. How mothering through Pinterest and Instagram puts us in a silent competition to DO more and BE more. To SPEND more than we should and say yes to things we should be saying no to. How reaching for that “Mommy wine” is so celebrated, a reward for all we do.

But you know what?

Wine gives me a friggin headache. And going on ten months of sobriety has me noticing all kinds of other new things.

I’ve noticed how mood tracking in my bullet journal directly linked my rough mental health-days to refined sugar intake.

I notice how the desire to compare and contrast ones’ parenting to photos on Instagram and Facebook compounds feelings of loneliness and inadequacy.

I’ve noticed how little our children want the things on YouTube compared to how much they want our time, undivided attention and presence.

I’ve noticed how each and every one of us LOVE to play the victim in our own story (it’s my favorite, esp when I’m arguing with my husband). Victims to time. To holiday crowds. To family obligation. To over commitments. To our circumstances.

But this sober year has also shown me how each and every one of us is solely responsible for our happiness. How being happy is simply a choice- one to consciously make in every moment. To separate happiness from the chasing of external factors, knowing we’ll never stop chasing if we continue to look outside of ourselves.

Do you want to be happy?

I do.

And I’ve committed to it this year and taken responsibility for it- because it’s no one else’s job.

So with that come my intentions for the holiday season:

  • Consume sugar with a healthy regard to my mental health (this means a 25-day refined sugar-free fast beginning now until my birthday)
  • Spend only what I plan for (avoiding debt no matter what).
  • Schedule in down time.
  • Say ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ according to what feels right.
  • Practice meditation 15-20 minutes daily.
  • Prioritize presence over presents.

And remember:

The idea is that we are all perfect creations in God’s eyes.

And this holiday, couldn’t that be enough?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Aunt Mar says:

    Love your writing Mary….God Bless You….Aunt Mar


    1. Thank you auntie! Love you!!


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