Posted by: Kate | December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas, my virtual and real friends and loved ones. And what the hell, a merry Christmas to those I don’t much like out there, either. I’m not exactly overflowing with cheer and peace – something about spending a month slowly and unconsciously poisoning myself with a medication that was intended to make my emotions more stable, not less. I’ll write that one out soon, but for now it’s enough to say that December was supremely odd and hazy and scary, and simply having survived it feels like an accomplishment all on its own. If I’m going to spend a little time congratulating myself for that, I figure I might as well list off a few of the other things I’m particularly grateful for.

There’s the obvious, of course: my family. I’m at my mother’s house now, and I know I could stay here indefinitely if I wanted to, retreating back into a role of dependency and passivity. Just knowing I could do so is enough to allow me to decline the opportunity, if that makes any sense. It’s a safety net, and I’m very aware that it’s there, and knowing that it would be OK to collapse and completely hand over the reins and know that my children would be cared for and my husband could remain employed and, just, somehow, it would all work out… that’s a powerful and important reassurance. I can take the risks inherent with independence and attempting competence, because I know that failure would not result in catastrophe. So I’ve got a case of supreme and intense gratitude going on, for my husband and my mother and my children and my sisters and all of those out there who are family, with or without a genetic or marital link.

I’m also grateful for the amount of effort I have put in, over the past few decades, to personalize Christmas gifts and make presents for people and emphasize the giving side of Christmas over the receiving side. This year, I had pitifully little to offer, in terms of physical gifts; I simply did not have the energy or wherewithal to create the items that appeared in my imagination, and even that was significantly limited, when compared to years past. I wasn’t able to think big, and I certainly wasn’t able to crowd the underside of the tree with handknits and crafted items. In fact, now that I think of it, I don’t think I actually completed any knitted gifts in time for the holiday this year, and a big portion of my intended gifts are still incomplete. But this is OK, because my loved ones have benefited (or, who knows, maybe it was more of a suffering) from my propensity toward homemade stuff in the past, and I can take a year off without any undue suffering.

Which leads to the next thing I can deeply appreciate: I’m learning how to lower my own standards, when it comes to things like housecleaning and making presents and managing the children’s activities… the secondary stuff. I’m still all kinds of stringent with myself when it comes to things like safety and health and care, for myself and the kids and so on. But the other things, the handmade-perfectly-organized-well-adjusted-eloquent sorts of things, those can be put on hold for a little while. I can forgive myself for the complete lack of stitches bound off, the generic nature of some of the gifts I gave, the fact that we celebrated St. Niklaas Day on December 10 instead of December 6 this year. I’ve been so very sick and damaged, and am still less than a year out from life support and coma. I don’t want to accept a permanent lowering of standards, but I can let things slide for a little bit longer. This is no small feat; I have always been far harder on myself than anyone else, and learning to let go has been very, very difficult.

There’s lots more, but I’m tired and frankly it’s not especially interesting to read while someone blathers on about the sublime and insignificant bits of gratitude in their lives. I know this because I’ve been bored reading others’ isn’t-life-lovely sorts of posts, and because I’ve already written several along these lines this year. It’s been kind of a wild ride, hasn’t it? I’m either bemoaning my very existence or endlessly enumerating the reasons why that existence is a pretty special thing. Here’s to a positively boring, or at least slightly less bipolar, 2011.`


  1. Merry Christmas Kate, it’s been quite a year to be sure. I hope 2011 brings peace and an end to the medical nightmares.

  2. As always I am always here for the mundane hooray and thank you as well as the HOLY $%&@ what the hell is going on. I understand in my own little ways and wish for you peace, love and health in 2011. ❤ ❤ ❤ Always thinking of you and your family for protection as well.

  3. Merry Christmas to you! The gift of not having to be perfect is a wonderful one to give to yourself. None of us are perfect. The question is: how much do we beat ourselves up over that?

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