Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthdays, Panic Attacks and Finding Peace

For the past few days I have had this overwhelming desire to go shopping. Any kind of shopping really would do, but purses are my thing. See, I have figured out when I have that desire to go shopping, it isn't really because I am in need of something material, but spiritual.

It hit me a few weeks ago that next month I will be 45! It is approaching quickly. December 30 is just around the corner. I have never had an issue with age. I have enjoyed growing older and I gotta be honest and say, I like myself now. I wouldn't want to be 20 over again if it was possible. Until a few days ago I figured out what my heart was feeling, but not able to process to my brain. My dad was only 45 when he became ill. When his cancer hit, he was 45 years old.

My panic attacks started coming on stronger over the last month or so. When they hit I always try to figure out why. Is something bothering me? It is a search I go on often and this time I have found part of the culprit.

My son was sharing with me that a few weeks ago someone had asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" My son shared how grateful he would feel when the holidays were over. No one quite understood. People tend to look at you like your a Grinch when you share Christmas isn't your favorite holiday.

I know why my son isn't so excited. I have that same overwhelming feeling about to burst from my chest. When you once had huge gatherings with family during Christmas and Thanksgiving and now that family celebrates elsewhere, you kind of have a feeling of, "Lets get it over with please."

I am a winter girl. I love this time of year and I so enjoy the seasons of giving and being thankful. For our family, it isn't about getting or even giving gifts. We could go out and buy all the gifts we want this year. But it's about something more. It's just spending time together. Although gifts are great and we enjoy gift giving. We would enjoy time spent with our family even more so. When your not surrounded by your family the gifts really don't mean much at all. I can tell you that my son would rather greet his siblings at the door than to receive any amout of presents. He would rather share this season as a family and not feel left out. I totally get that. What about you?

So, when you hear people complaining about all they must do to get ready for the holidays my son would like to say, "Stop complaining and be thankful your surrounded by your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents." I know this weighs heavy on his heart.

Christmas was never really special for my husband as a child. He was always made to feel guilty for any gift he received. So now, he even struggles to purchase something for himself. Even if it is just a need. He will downright just get sick to his stomach. It isn't that he doesn't want to spend the money. It's the fact that his parents made him feel guilty for the money they spent on him. So every year he is drawn right back to those days at home. Even after all these years he still carries that deep pain. For me, Christmas always ROCKED! Thanksgiving ROCKED! I was surrounded by family. Mom was always in the kitchen preparing great meals and dad was always eager to open gifts. By the time Christmas rolled around our gifts were all opened up!

I still love Christmas and I love my home being filled with the scent of pies baking and wild turkey in the oven. I love bringing in that tree we cut down as a family and decorating it as Christmas music plays filling the house. What would make it better? To have all our children and grandchildren surrounding us. So, we have learned to make our own traditions and make each moment count. People say, "Celebrate with those around you." I totally get that. But it's not so easy to forget about those who are not near.

Now, back to those panic attacks. This time of year is just really hard for me. I see people complaining because they must make time to go to their parents homes. I wish I could return home for just one Thanksgiving. I wish I could go back in time and watch my dad open all his gifts in laughter. You never really understand what another is feeling unless you yourself have walked in their shoes.

What do I see at 45? I have no idea. No idea at all what is waiting around the corner for me. I just wish the memories that haunt me could leave and not return. So, see my need to go shopping? I have that urge to purchase something to make me feel better about the upcoming days. But I know it won't help. Oh sure, it will for that short moment, but later that purse will be in the closet with all the others I have collected over the years.

Sure, I know, we are to be thankful for what is right in front of us. And we are very grateful. We have so much to be grateful for and I intend to make these days all that they can be. Hopefully this will be the greatest season yet for the Prater family.

My heart feels overwhelmed. I have a hurting son who misses the siblings he grew up with and loves so much. I have a husband who has no desire to be near his parents during this time because of the pain they have left upon his heart. As for me, I see my mother and I see a woman ready to give up.

I am reaching a birthday that was my dad's last. That just gives you great thoughts to ponder  about life and just how much you have really lived and how much time you have nearly wasted. My son knows the real meaning of Christmas. He knows the gifts are just an added blessing. Maybe this year will we take ourselves a little trip somewhere nice and create new memories to last for the years to come.

Why am I sharing all this with you? There are so many who love asking, "What do you want for Christmas? What are your plans?" We forget that there are many families who cannot afford presents this year. Many are left without loved ones they once celebrated with. This is a hard time for many, if not most. Why do you think we tend to spend so much money over the next few months? To make ourselves feel better, only to pay for it over the next year.

So friends, take each day for what it is. A gift. Treasure each moment and take time with those you love and who love you. Share from your heart words you haven't said in years. Allow another to share memories of their past joys. Make this time a time to open up your heart and enjoy the company of those surrounding you.

If you don't have that huge family, if you don't have money to purchase gifts, create a new tradition. Celebrate Christ in a new way. Give thanks by sharing your time with others. This season is what you make it. So grab hold and enjoy with a tender heart of thanks. You just might be surprised all that the Lord has for you this season.

For me, I am still in search of the perfect peace and I know it will come. It will come once I surrender all my feelings and emotions over to my Savior and just completely and fully soak Him in. After all, isn't every day we spend about Him? It's when we take our focus off Him that our troubles begin. We try to make everyone around us happy. We spend way too much money and we go out of our way to make it look as though our holidays are to die for, when all we need to be is real. Speak up and say, "I can't afford that twenty dollar gift limit." Share with those you love how much you want to spend time with them. Don't hold it all in. When we do, we then become angry and no one knows our pain because we have tucked it in tight to hide it from all.

It's not that we will not see all of our children and grandchildren this year. I know without any doubt we will, but for many years now it has not been the same. Once your children leave and begin their own lives you long to have them back home, sitting by the tree in wait to open their next gift. You dream of the laughter that once filled your table as the bread you just baked is too hard to even eat. You are excited for them and all they have planned, but you too miss them. Are you there with me? My mom simply doesn't want to celebrate any day, so what do you do? You can't help but have this upon your heart. Sure, some are going to say, "Get over it", and that's fine. But until you are in the midst of those emotional days yourself you can't very well tell another how to react. So, all I can do, is all I can do and surrender all my feelings to my Savior. I can wake each day with the hope that He will fill the emptiness I feel. That He will remove the memories that bring such hurt and fill me with new ones to make me smile.

Friend, don't worry if your season isn't a vision from a Hallmark card. Don't buy in to the commercialism and think you must rush out and leave all the bills to purchase your child the newest phone or toy. Simply spend time loving on one another. Giggle until you pee. Have that piece of apple pie topped with whipped cream. Go for that walk and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. Get all cozy and watch your favorite holiday movie. Grab that book you have been saving to read. Visit your local nursing home and read to one who needs of touch from God. My point? Take time and enjoy each and every minute. Make the most of it! But most of all, make your focus your Savior. He has a way of blessing you like no other gift you have ever received.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7


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