an upward spiral

The day after Christmas...a good morning to all

Good morning everyone. I am imagining that we all have some stories to tell today! I went to bed at 6:45 and slept until 7 a.m., and that is why this post is so late in coming out.

I could see some progress in myself this year; in how I felt about “mistakes”, that in the past would have emotionally floored me. Saturday night, after we returned home from my brother’s party, and ate another big dinner, I recommended that we watch, Home for the Holidays, (with Holly Hunter and Robert Downey Jr.). I happen to think that this movie is a hoot. The family is nuts and incredibly dysfunctional, but it is all somehow ok in the end.

Nobody here liked it. My son Matt thought it was depressing. Jack, who has watched it every year with me, finally admitted that he has never really liked the character that Robert Downey Jr. plays. Then my son Tom said, “Well, I couldn’t relate to it.” After the temporary deflated feeling of guilt, for making everyone watch a depressing movie on Christmas Eve, I realized that it really was a huge compliment. My holidays, as a child, were fraught with anxiety and tension. The household portrayed in this movie would have been a step up for me. My children couldn’t identify with the craziness. They actually like coming here for Christmas and holidays.

I decided to focus on this, instead of what I didn’t do right. There is always a kernel of good, of light, of Spirit in every dark, difficult situation. I can feel that when I choose to turn away from the negative, self-condemning and critical thoughts, and to look for the good, that the positive feelings and experiences will start to grow too, I will begin to feel better, and life will respond in kind.

Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping-stone to greatness.” Oprah Winfrey

28 thoughts on “an upward spiral”

  1. Happy Day After Christmas, Mary! Thanks for sharing your story and my first thought was, how wonderful that they felt OK letting you know that they didn’t really like the movie! Rather than not saying anything, they spoke their truth. And how wonderful that you didn’t take it personally. It was all about personal preferences. And, yes, what a beautiful testament to you as their mother/spouse, that they could not relate to a crazy, dysfunctional home! Lots of Love.

  2. Good morning and Happy Day – After Christmas! I loved your post this morning and happy that your family felt comfortable enough to share their feelings about the movie…I’m guessing next year you will be watching something different!!!
    At 56, I think I can look back and see that we grew up in a time where we weren’t supposed to look at our accomplishments and feel pride, finding the good in a situation wasn’t talked about, those are all things we are learning as we get older and wiser. While we are trying hard not to make the same mistakes our parents did, we have made others of our own…that’s OK too, our children will learn from those and be better for it.
    May the New Year bring us all happiness, good health and joy as we travel this life together…love, Marian

    1. I so agree with you Marian,…there was almost a feeling of “cursing yourself” if you said (or thought) that you did something well/right. Time to change that…thank you, and here is to a positive, expansive and bright 2012!

  3. Our tradition is to watch A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. Our favorite is the George C Scott version. But this year we watched a Muppet Christmas Carol with our adult daughter and her boyfriend. It’s her favorite version – haha. It was the first time her boyfriend saw it. Not sure he liked it as much as we did.
    I’m happy for you that your children love to come home and spend time with you. That shows what a good job you did (and still do) as a mom. (As does the fact that they were honest with you about the movie.)
    Enjoy your day!

  4. “There is always a kernel of good, of light, of Spirit in every dark, difficult situation.”

    This is a great lesson to come from your situation, and it has taken me a long time to really KNOW this. I think it’s terrific that your kids (and Jack, bless his heart) felt free and comfortable enough to voice their feelings without fearing any ensuing drama. Nice work, Mary.

    Pssssst……maybe next year a different movie is in order? 😉

  5. “ENSUING DRAMA” – describes my Christmas Day, Suzanne. Happily for me, I practice “The 12 Days of Christmas”. On this the second day of Christmas, I need to rest up from the first day of Christmas! Speaking of movies, has anyone seen National Lampoon’s Family Christmas with Chevy Chase? The crazy relatives who park their Trailer on the family property and stay for the holidays. The cat that gets fried in the Christmas tree; or was it a suirrel? Our family Christmas had those kinds of moments both hysterically funny and tragically sad.

    Today, I will spend the day with a good Irish novel that Connie Brooks of Battenkill Books picked as the “book of the month” for the Battenkill Book Club. Check her site if you are interested. Have a peaceful day, Mary and all of us. I so appreciated the post today. I think our family of origin Christmases were very similar. The National Lampoom Christmas would Have been a step up for me! HO, HO, HO!!!

    1. I would love to have been a fly on YOUR wall on Christmas day, Mary Rita. Did any video come out of it? Maybe you could submit it for National Lampoon’s Family Christmas II.

  6. I like this post Mary…it resonates with me. Keeping that positive outlook is sometimes a challenge. Usually God gives me a thump on the head when I’m being especially negative to remind me of all the good in my life.

  7. Mary, people speak the truth to you because you speak (and write) the truth to them. They feel safe telling you how they truly feel and think. I would call it a great gift, but I think it is the product of a lifetime of hard work.

    Happy Boxing Day! (Or for those in the U.S., Not So Happy Return and Regift Day.)

    1. Thank you Jill…the idea that people feel safe with me, safe to share their ideas/truths, even when they differ from mine, is something that I feel very grateful for.

  8. Merry Christmas, WFF!

    Yes, Mary, regardless of problems with the peripherals it’s always a great Christmas when the family wants to be together! All my kids were with me for two days. Life is good! We laughed and played and relaxed. Also got to have my mother come to my home, as well. Blessed? You bet! Whenever the other stuff started filtering into my weak little brain and I eventually steered it here, a happy feeling resulted and hopefully I could pay that little bit forward.

    Have a safe and happy holiday week.

  9. How nice to be able to check in with the flock and exchange Christmas stories. Mary, I wholeheartedly agree with everyone’s expression of support – Jill summed it up perfectly above, so kudos to you, and pass the popcorn 🙂 We had one minor (could have been messy) Christmas disaster/laugh. I had to keep our big dog Dobie in the bedroom during dinner, because, alas, I have never mastered the art of training him not to snag food off of the counter, and full they were buffet style. Well, we got the men off to the patio for their (yuck) Christmas Eve cigar and male bonding while I, and the two girlfriends, like womenfolk of yore, cleaned up. When we thought it safe to let out the ol’ Dobie, we joined the men on the patio with the traditional Rum Cake (and it is NOT a kiddy cake if you know what I mean) – Ten minutes after we let Dobie out I wondered why he had not wandered out to join us. I then just knew! He had attacked the remainder of the rum cake, – I’d say he was able to reach about a quarter of this 90 proof buttery RUMMY cake, and he was happy as a clam! He never got sick which what worried me, but I guess the spirit of Christmas was watching over my old boy too. He’s twelve and has a cast iron stomach, it would seem. I think I love Christmas Eve and the anticipation of Christmas Day even more than Christmas Day – anyone feel l like this too? Thanks Mary Rita for letting us know Connie of Battenkill has a book club selection each month. I bet it will be good. Happy Day After to all, – xoxox

    1. I, too, love Christmas Eve and the anticipation thereof, Susan. I wake up on Christmas morning with a tiny little let-down, knowing that the season will be over in a few hours.

      This is what I love about this blog. I am able to admit to this for the first time ever, knowing that there are a few here who won’t think I’m odd. Well, onward to New Year’s Day, which doesn’t affect me this way at all!

  10. I like the picture of Luke. He is expecting something good to happen, as he gazes out of the window.

    I enjoy the anticipation of Christmas Eve, even in leaner times. As I told my Mom, there is always some let down on Christmas day, esp. if there are few gifts. I’m not really sure why that seems to be true. I made sure I got her a couple of books. She gave me a really interesting book she bought at the library sale called The Allegorical Mr. Pit – a bicentennial biography by Eric Langford. A historical note: William Pitt, the younger and his friend William Wilberforce were the ones responsible for ending slavery in England. The book itself is not esp. about that, as much as it is about a mezzotint, and early Va. history. I love books like that, so she lucked out when she bought a bunch of stuff at a a library sale.

    Still like all the movies associated with Christmas. I think my favorites are It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas, and also The Bishop’s Wife.

  11. I’m not even sure I can respond to this post without devolving into a pile of mush; perhaps the best thing would be to not even try. But this is a safe place and a measure of the growth I like to think I’ve attained.
    I’ve spent literally years running, at full speed, away from my childhood Christmas memories. I can only relate to this holiday WISHING for the Hollywood version, Jimmy Stewart style; reality was far too grim. But I always knew, somewhere deep down, that families like yours, Mary, really existed. You should give yourself a huge pat on the back for a job well done!
    While I never ‘birthed’ any children of my own, I was blessed with three step-darlings later in my life. And since they were past the Santa stage, I asked them if we could do ‘something different’ (that didn’t require the traditional trimmings) because they felt so painful and foreign to me. They reluctantly agreed and we decided to pool our funds and donate what we would normally spend and give it to a charity of their choice.
    So while it does not ever look like Norman Rockwell in our house, I think I’ve instilled a sense of appreciation for BOTH the traditional and the ‘otherness’ that makes up this holiday season. They are grown and on their own, free to celebrate whatever way the wish. As long as it’s done with love and compassion, I’ll feel like an angel got its wings.

    1. Cheryl B., what a wonderful gift you’ve given your “step-darlings,”…. a true sense of what the word ‘balance’ means within the context of this season. Your memories may be grim, but here in our feathered flock, we open our arms to you for a big embrace, given in love.

      I think that, unbeknown to you, you have provided many an angel with its wings.

      1. Angel All Around Us!

        It is my simply favorite thing to say to my sons when the have to go on a trip:

        Angels All Around You!

        doesn’t that sound so much better then Bon Voyage? 🙂

  12. Mary and Whitefeather friends,

    What a wonderful place of healing and comfort this community is. I’m working every day to be better to myself and my family. The support here is just amazing. Blessings to all.

  13. Just wanted to post the names of my very favorite holiday movies – first, foremost and always is Miracle on 34th Street – my most recent one is Love Actually. I think it would appeal to all. I still cry during both of these movies even though I’ve seen them so many times. I seem to always forget parts of the movies and then am delighted and touched again and again.

    1. I am watching “Love, Actually” for the first time tonight! Glad to know that I’ll need to keep the tissues handy. Happy Holidays to you, Mary.

  14. Have you ever had to give a party, dear friends, and we ladies know it is we! who continue 99% if not 100% responsible for all the prep/food/meal/cleanup and even it it’s just family, or family and friends, you, Y-O-U-, being the Super MOM/Woman/Chef, just have to duck into the bathroom in your own house once in awhile to escape? This truly happens to me, – I overdo all the tasty treats, Spanish born husband has to keep pouring all the wine to guests, and I just want to escape somewhere quiet and safe, and that is what I feel here tonight for the first post Christmas Day in years, just safe! hearing all the stories from the flock, and no, I’m not in the bathroom, 🙂 but about to read The Sun Magazine for the night with my two sweet dogs on the bed, Dobie of Rum Cake Fame, and lil’ Lucky who I found on a desert trail five years ago. Love to all!

  15. Nice to read this post, I can relate to it in so many ways. I too resolve to think “differently” – This year I think like a Queen!

  16. I remember the old TV show – Queen for a day….

    Yes, I think 2012 would be a great time to work on
    being being a queen …each and everyday …

    ready to try new paths…being open and real …

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