Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Christmas Hangover

Bored and anxious to get home on New Years Eve, I curiously observed the other passengers shuffling along the security line at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. One family, consisting of two children (about 10-12 years in age) was not in a good place. The 10 year old boy hid behind his mom, while she smothered him with kisses. The exasperated sister found a moment when her mother wasn't looking, glared angrily at her brother and mouthed, "I. HATE. YOU." Closer to security, an adult daughter sighed with frustration as she snapped at her senior parents, "JUST MAKE A DECISION ALREADY!" A young couple wearing "bride" and "groom" hoodies quickly transitioned from wedded bliss to pure annoyance when the "bride" discovered multiple bottles of liquids in her carry-on. Now I know that airports are not an environment conducive to fostering healthy relationships; however, this mood was exceptionally grim. It dawned on me in that moment that everyone at George Bush Intercontinental Airport was suffering from the Christmas Hangover.

The Christmas Hangover is more than just the after effects of excessive food and drink. It can be summed up in a simple equation. Christmas Hangover = Your Christmas Expectations -  Your Christmas Reality. The larger the disparity between your expectations and your reality, the more severe the Christmas Hangover. How can your Christmas expectations not be high? Movies, TV commercials, Christmas specials and Christmas carols begin setting the bar to an unachievable level, raising our expectations in early November. We imagine the perfect holiday season, complete with egg nog,  Christmas cookies, joy, love, laughter, and pure Christmas happiness. When a tantruming child, a holiday gift gone awry, a forgotten Elf on the Shelf or a disagreement between Uncle Joe and Cousin Eddy arises, we feel panic and disappointment. It's not supposed to be like this! This isn't what I envisioned! Although I love Christmas just as much as the next guy, including holiday baking, Christmas music, Christmas movies, and catching up with family and friends, I've become more cognizant of the stress level and pressure that many feel to meet their Christmas expectations.  In addition, since the loss of special family members over the past few years, I am more conscious of the fact that Christmas can be a horrible time of year for someone who is mourning a loss. I could definitely sense a collective sigh of relief once the holiday season (and all the pressure that comes with it) reached it's end this year.

Contrary to my above thoughts, my Christmas was quite nice. There was no arguing amongst relatives, disagreements, or Elf fails. I was able to catch up with Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. I cuddled up on the couch with my sister and watched National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (my favourite!) I decorated a real Canadian Christmas tree with my Mom and Mother-in-law. I got Grandma hugs and Baba kisses. I devoured perogies, turkey, and butter tarts. We reunited with our Saskatchewan posse and caught up over prosecco and shark fins. All good. The weather, on the other hand, was terrible. I must admit that I've gotten a little soft since my move to a tropical island almost 4 years ago; however, the weather in Saskatchewan over the holiday season was atrocious, even for the most seasoned Canadian. With windchills of up to -50 degrees Celsius, it was much too cold to stand outside for more than 30 seconds enjoy outdoor winter activities (by the way, did you know that at -40 degrees Celsius and Fahrenheit become equal? Mind. Blown). The frigid temps wreaked havoc on our "stuff," which typically only operates during the summer months. Our water line froze, and I found myself angrily melting snow on the stove like a freakin' pioneer. The diesel in our truck even froze, rendering us vehicle-less for the last part of our holiday.  The weather was not fit for human (or nonhuman) habitation, and that put a damper on things. Although I felt negligent leaving our friends and family behind when we flew back to Cayman, I have to admit that I was very ready to return to the island. I exhaled a huge sigh of relief when I stepped off the plane in Cayman, felt my joints begin to thaw, and was able to walk without pain again.

I'm pretty pumped about 2018. Let's call a spade a spade: 2017 was not my year. I admire those who can reflect upon a tough year with realizations such as, "I learned a lot of lessons" or "2017 challenged me!" Not this girl. With 3 knee surgeries, crutches for 3/4 of the year, the #neverbending story, and enough painkillers to kill a horse, 2017 does not deserve an inspirational saying, and will forever be known as "The year that sucked." Thankfully, I am heading into 2018 in pretty good shape! Today I am painkiller free (cheers to brain clarity!), am hitting up the gym again with light weights, and am feeling much more stable emotionally and mentally. Although I still experience pain and suffer from moments where I temporarily freak out about the future of my cartilage, I'm learning to embrace the here and now. And here and now I am a poster child for Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation recovery. Boo ya! In addition, there was an incredible sighting in my bathroom mirror this week - my ass! It's slowly returning from the depths of the unknown. I don't want to brag, but I'm presently a few squats away from the Kardashian-ville (No. Not even close).  It's difficult to express the relief you feel when you make it through the other side of shit and find your old self (and ass) after a long 12 month hiatus.  I am happy Kirstie again, and you know the saying, "Happy Kirstie, happy life" (I totally made that up, but I would argue that Evan would fully agree with that statement). After a year of watching from the sidelines, I am so looking forward to "doing" again!

Cheers to a health and happiness in 2018!

My Posse

Eggnog, Canada slippers and Rudolph

sister hugs!

Christmas Eve with Baba

The Candle lake view has changed since August

Tea with Grandma

Rockin' around the Christmas tree with the girls

Ev's mom got to experience a cold Candle Lake Christmas!

The day the truck gave up on life: heaters, blankets, and blow dryers. No luck. 

All thawed out. Cheers!

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