Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Why I Hate Christmas

Yes, the title is real and straight to the point. My explanation isn't meant to gain sympathy, just understanding. I have spent years trying to understand it myself and only now are things coming to light...

Santa never came to my house as a child. I really never believed in him anyway. My mother tried a few times and like a dutiful child, I humored her attempts. Instead of cheer, there was anger and yelling. Instead of feelings of love and joy, there were painful things said and done. I remember not having a real Christmas tree. Instead, we had a "tree" made of Christmas cards from previous years (my mother was creative at least).

By the time I was 12 years old Christmas seemed moot despite the fact we could now afford one. By then it was about the biggest and the best, not about the thought of the gift in the slightest. And Jesus?! Forget it! Oh we had a Nativity but without the Gospel it meant very little to me and I suppose even less to my family.

From age 17 on I was in and out of my house, but mainly living on my own, only coming together for appearances to make it look like we were a "real" family. I was most certainly gone for the holidays. Either because I wanted it that way or because I had been thrown out of the house by the time Christmas came along.

I have been alone on Christmas more times than not. I have been evicted and fired on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or the day after a total of 5 times. Eventually, I gave up. The last time I was evicted I decided to live in my car for six months rather than be thrown out again. (*Note* I must let you know I was never the greatest of tenants and most likely deserved to be evicted. It just all added to my sour attitude).

Even when I finally found the Gospel and how it fit into my life, Christmas was lonely, awkward really. Sometimes I would be invited to other families festivities, but I felt so strange standing around watching these people love and care for one another genuinely and openly. It took three years for me to start feeling comfortable around one particular family, but then I got married and had to start all over with a new family.

Having lived in this truly magical place for the last year has opened my heart to many possibilities...including Christmas. I was feeling the Christmas spirit and happily singing along to the songs when I heard some family traditions shared by a friend. I knew of the hardships and sadness experienced by my friend with regards to their family but their stories of Christmas were happy and joyous, and I felt...ANGRY! I couldn't understand why! I sat and prayed for days trying to understand my feelings when it finally hit me: JEALOUSY!

 I was SO jealous to hear of hardships and sadness just to be erased and forgotten for at least one GLORIOUS day: Christmas. I heard stories of groups and individuals secretly or openly giving gifts and trees. Of Christmases that were sure to be doomed by poverty just to be rescued by kind, loving souls. I hadn't had the luxury. No one saved Christmas for us. No one showed us kindness or blessings. The most I remember our family receiving was the annual meat and cheese tray, which later turned to See's candy boxes from an aunt and uncle. These were savored for as long as possible.

I know I could have been more charitable through the years with my attitude toward Christmas and her patrons, but I had too much pain and darkness within me (not having to do with Christmas but more to do with traumatic events in my childhood) to look past the anger and jealousy.

I know and understand Christmas to be more about the Greatest Gift of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ than it is about the retail side of things, but I hadn't been in a place (physically or mentally) to rejoice and celebrate the holiday freely with that in my heart. And to try and blend both the Spiritual side and the temporal side of Christmas has been nearly impossible. For me, at least. I don't think you can blend something you absolutely hate with something that gives you a reason for living, and get something good out of it.

So this year I understand myself better. This year I am truly feeling the Christmas spirit more. Not because someone saved Christmas with presents and food, we were able to do that for ourselves this year thanks to blessings given by our Father in Heaven. Blessings that are too numerous to name. My heart if finally filling with the joy and love the Gospel brings and pushing out all the hate and hurt from years gone by.

This year and all the years to follow, I hope to carry the true spirit of Christmas with me, ALWAYS. I hope it grows and strengthens. I hope to pass this feeling along to everyone I come in contact with. I hope my son never feels the way I did. I hope he understands and knows all the joy, magic, and love this season can bring into so many. I hope to help even just one person erase all the bad in life even for just one magical day.

So, I hope you'll forgive me and my Grinchy ways. I hope you understand just a little bit more of why I was that way. I hope you will love me in spite of my hurt and hate, and know I am trying. It's a lot to hope for, but I think I'm up to the task!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My New Year's Theme 2015

You ever see those people who wear ankle weights to strengthen their legs? It's kinda weird until you try it and then you find that it works! Well, this is how my life is and will be for the next year apparently. Ever since I finally escaped the dark abyss I lived in for the last five years I have felt like I'm trying to run through mud.

Just to make sure, I had to pray to make sure I wasn't going in the wrong direction. He said that, no I wasn't, but that to make me stronger, SPIRITUALLY stronger, I have to walk through the mud to get me to a better ME.

So this year's theme is:

Even when the mud is particularly sticky, Keep Moving Forward. When I'm not sure I can take another step: Keep Moving Forward. When everything is harder than anticipated: Keep Moving Forward!

This is particularly good for me to know, hear, practice because I like to give up when the going gets tough. So this is my year to stick it out!

please pray for me...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Letter


This Christmas letter may seem lame because you are not receiving it in your mailbox. And, hey, I LOVE nice mail in my box just like anyone else. That said, I'm hoping you will let me slide (for this year at least) as I let you ride on the Passanando Rollercoaster!

Let's see...

I'm going to start in the last part of the year since nothing terribly interesting happened until then anyway. 
Christopher started attending kindergarten this last August and he LOVES it! His schedule has him going every Wednesday and Friday, and every other Monday...sort of. This can be a little confusing but seeing as we only have the one kid and our lives revolve around entertaining him (for the most part this is true), we've got the hang of it pretty well I think. Christopher misses school when he's not there and FINALLY learned the days of the week so he can anticipate his next school day.

Another first, I started working...again...after nearly an eight-year absence. This was something I felt was necessary. Not so much for financial reasons but something more spiritual in a way. It's difficult to explain, but suffice it to say, my puny little, minimum wage, pizza and sub making job helped me immensely! Weird, I know, but it helped to kick start me out of a five year slump so no complaints here. I have since quit this job, but more on that later.

Ben, of course, is the big story of the year. The day Christopher went into school and a week before I started work, Ben had what was supposed to be a relatively simply surgery to correct some damage done from the necrotizing fasciitis. What really happened was a two hour-hour-surgery-turned-six-hour-surgery, and extensive reconstructive surgery, and hernia repairs. He was anticipated to fully recover from the original surgery roughly two weeks, but because the damage was so great and his body not functioning for years, recovery took two MONTHS. BUT we have AMAZING medical staff including a wonderful doctor who worked on Ben like he was doing surgery on his mother. He took great care in getting Ben to a state that was most optimized but never thought of as a reality until now!

Ben is now better than he was five years ago and many things are looking up for him. We are also anticipating another try at the therapy grad program for Ben at Idaho State University (ISU). Nothing will be known for certain until the middle of next year, so please pray, cross your fingers, or think good thoughts for Ben please?

I also plan on school this coming year. I will be attending the same ISU this Spring part-time for the pre-PTA (Physical Therapy Assistant) program. I will be applying for the full program later in the year in hopes of getting in for the Fall 2015 semester. I have a few things in my favor: I already have an AAS (Associates Degree), I've studied and practiced massage therapy for 10 years +, and believe it or not, being a non-traditional student (older than 25 years old) is REALLY in my favor! I have a mentor helping through the process and plenty of support from friends in the area. I'm also up for another part-time job on campus. I'm hoping to earn a little cash while learning how to manage my time better in time for a full-time school schedule.

Remember when I said the pizza shop helped me in a strange way? Like I mentioned, I've been in a five-year slump, depression really, where I couldn't think of a reason to smile despite obvious reasons all around me. I felt the job would benefit me in some way, but only financially because I couldn't see it any other way. But something inside of me changed. I felt a mental and almost physical "click" inside of me and my whole outlook on life changed! I feel like ME again...but BETTER! I smile and laugh, I'm happy and enjoying life again! The only difficult thing really has been trying to figure life out post crisis-mode. It's been slow-going, like trying to run through thick mud, but I know I can do it and that it will get easier. 

Troubles and trials are not gone, but the dark way in which I saw them has. We are all starting to become the family we were meant to be!

Merry Christmas!
From the Passanandos