I think this is the first Christmas that I’ve ever had that’s felt good/okay. I’ve had a rough month this December–some horrible abuse memories from this time of year, and some depression, deep sadness, despair, old feelings that come from the abuse and trauma–and during that time I also had to work on copyedits of Stained (which comes out next year). But I also had a lot of good. And today…today was actually good. I don’t remember a Christmas that I’ve ever been able to say that. This is new for me, and lovely!
Petal, my little Chinese Crested dog, brings me so much happiness. I started the morning with a lovely walk with her, and we saw and walked with many other people and their dogs who we both knew. That was a nice start to our day. I had fun giving Petal a bunch of presents throughout the day, including a really loud rooster toy (actually, three of them, to replace her favorite chewed up one), a bouncy bird toy, a soft stick toy, and a new bone, Christmas doggie cookie, chewies, and extra treats. Petal gets so much happiness out of little things–it’s a good reminder.
I also posted some photos of Petal and talked about her on Twitter and FaceBook, and had people responding, and that helped me stay connected to people and to good feeling. And I had email conversations with some of the people I care about most in this world, which also helped.
I unwrapped a beautiful, thoughtful present from a beautiful, thoughtful, dear friend of mine–Julie Shoerke–who also happens to be my book publicist.
She sent me this lovely piece of hanging art/poetry that says “You are so smart, caring, awesome” on one side, and “you are so witty, loving, amazing.” I don’t know about the “witty” part, but I do know that I try to be the others, and Julie insists they all fit. I really need reminders like that, still; my abusers taught me to hate myself and to not take in any good. I’ve learned, over time, to love myself more, but I can’t always hold onto tho positive, so this was a beautiful, perfect, thoughtful present.
I put up ornaments on the tree from two people I love dearly, including Jean (who is like a mom to me) which was a lovely reminder of them, and had two other gifts from some people I love, which helps so much. And I put up a flying pig ornament which arrived last night. I love flying pigs; I love the impossible becoming possible (which is a theme for me, and which comes out in my book Parallel Visions).
I bought myself most of my presents–it’s what I do without family, and it can often feel sad to me on Christmas and my birthday. As well as all the old stuff that comes up from my parents buying and then destroying my presents every year when I was a kid. But though presents felt sad this month, it didn’t today. Instead, parts of me enjoyed the things I’d bought them and receieved, and some favorite things came up with me and Petal on the couch.
I made a Tofurkey and potatoes and asparagus/spinach/onions/mushrooms – some of my favorite foods – and had chocolate cookies, and Petal had pure chicken dog treats.
I read and read–I’ve just gotten into Chris D’Lacey’s Last Dragon Chronicles, which if you haven’t read is comforting and fantastical and lovely, and I highly recommend them. (I went through Book One–The Fire Within–yesterday, and today I’m on Book Two, Ice Fire.) I also read my new picture books, all of which are new favorites and feel so good–Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack; Andrew Drew and Drew by Barney Saltzberg; And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano and Erin E Stead; John Jensen Feels Different; and, even though it feels a bit sexist to me, I also bought, opened today, and loved My Snake Blake by Randy Siegel and Serge Bloch (maybe because it feels like Crictor by Tomi Ungerer which I loved as a child).
I also bought and read some Christmas picture books (before the day), trying to open myself up to the idea that Christmas could be a good time of year. I now have some real favorite Christmas picture books, some that are sweet, some that are like poetry, and books I know I’ll come back to again next year: The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson and Jon Muth; A Pussycat’s Christmas by Margaret Wise Brown; Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (I love Amelia Bedelia); and Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney. I also found some winter picture books that I love and pulled them out; while not specifically Christmas, they still fit this time of year.
I watched part of a feel-good Christmas movie (A Holiday For Love); I’ve been watching feel-good Christmas movies all month. Feel-good movies and books help remind me of the goodness in people, and are so important for me when things are hard. I’ve spent time playing with Petal, and enjoying my gifts, having fun reading, and eating…and not working! Talking with good people on Twitter and Facebook and email (thank you, all!) And for the most part, I’ve stayed out of sadness and depression, and just…had a good day. I will hold onto this, and try to remind myself next year when things get hard around Christmas. I even found myself able to listen to Christmas music and be okay, even enjoy some of it, without it taking me down to the abuse. I didn’t think that could happen, especially when I was having a rough time this month. But it has, and today is good…and I am thankful. Thankful for healing and change, for the kind, good, loving people in my life, for people I connect with online, for my lovely, sweet little Petal, and for having enough food to eat, gifts to open, safety and warmth.
I hope you have all had, or are having, a lovely, lovely holiday filled with laughter, joy, and good feeling. I hope for healing, joy, and laughter for us all.