My blog is about home, garden, and life in the Pacific Northwest. But today I want to share my personal thoughts about the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays, traditions, and living life to the fullest.
Our Past Holiday Family Traditions
My daughter, Katie, and I had some amazing holiday traditions. Here we are at Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA.
Our family would enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday. But the next day was “game on” for all that the Christmas season had to offer.
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It was like a switch was flipped once Thanksgiving day was over.
The first Christmas holiday tradition was to hunt for the perfect fresh Christmas tree.
Then once we were back home we would set the mood. Christmas music was turned on. Fragrant holiday candles were lit. Gingerbread cookies were eaten. Hot cocoa was served with a cute little candy cane and LOTS of marshmallows. And, of course, the Christmas decorations would finally come out.
We would then spend the next few days transforming our fall home into a Christmas wonderland.
That’s how my Nana did it, that’s how my mom did it. Really…I didn’t know anything different. The thought of decorating for Christmas BEFORE Thanksgiving was not even in our minds.
So Many Changes Over the Years
But many things changed over the years.
My daughter and only child, Katie, would grow up. She was busy and consumed with her own life now. I found myself decorating for Christmas on my own. What used to be a festive and fun holiday tradition was now a chore.
Our trips to downtown Seattle to see Santa and ride the carousel was a thing of the past. No more hot cocoa with the candy cane and marshmallows.
The Worst Thing That Could Happen to a Mother
The phone rang at 6:30 AM on an August morning 3 years ago. I was told that Katie had passed away.
She would have been 30 years old this last October.
Any family traditions we still had pretty much fell apart. And the grandkids I hoped to one day start new traditions with would never be.
I now dreaded bringing out the Christmas decorations. It was more like torture. And the memories. So many memories that I really didn’t want to remember.
I will say it’s getting easier as each day goes by to see Katie’s childhood ornaments, the old dresses she would wear to visit Santa, and to remember her as a sweet and excited “Kid at Christmas”. But I’m not quite ready to create one of those memory Christmas trees with her handmade ornaments yet.
The Role of an Influencer
Shiplap and Shells was created on Instagram almost 3 years ago. The blog followed a year later.
To say I didn’t know what to expect from these platforms is an extreme understatement.
I only started an Instagram account in hopes of a magazine one day finding my account and wanting to feature my home and garden. There were no other expectations at the time. Being an “influencer” was never something I knew about. It just happened.
But as I learned very quickly, Instagram, and then the home decor blogging world would become a stressful reminder that holidays and upcoming seasons needed to be showcased a month or more before anyone else realistically even started on their own home decorating.
And let me tell you…I struggled with this concept. Especially because I AM NOT NATURALLY AN ORGANIZED PERSON! I try…but the effort is REAL. Is anyone with me?
So I went from loving everything the Christmas season had to offer to struggling with the loss of those traditions. And now I had the added feeling of overwhelming pressure to get holiday posts out early.
I literally lost the true meaning of Christmas and the joy of living and enjoying life to the fullest. It was an empty place to be.
Living Through My Pictures
This has been a year of self-reflection.
What I’ve learned about myself is that I have an “all-or-nothing” personality. I put EVERYTHING I have into what my focus is at the time with no regard to anything else going on around me.
Thinking back to how my SHIPLAP AND SHELLS journey started for me, I now know I was looking for something to fill my time so I wouldn’t have to think about what had happened to our family, or the void of my daughter.
Emotionally, I have missed life as it has passed me by for almost 3 years. But there are PLENTY of videos and pretty pictures that I can look back on.
There Was No Longer a Balance in My Life as I Once Knew It
I wasn’t even aware of the empty life I was living. I was purely documenting how I thought life should be in the eyes of my subscribers and followers.
It was consuming.
I needed to accept the fact that things needed to change.
Creating New Holiday Traditions is a Work in Progress
I’ve been stepping back a bit on the blog and social media. I still love to create posts but it’s really more of when I WANT to share something… and not because I HAVE to.
My blog is now a work of joy and not dread. It’s where I can share my creativity and love of decorating, gardening, and boating.
I did start decorating for Christmas last week…yes, BEFORE Thanksgiving. But only because I’m not hosting the Thanksgiving holiday this year and I WANTED to work on Christmas, not because I had to. The timing was right for me. I can’t wait to start sharing it with you next week.
So with this new Christmas season upon us, I am starting a new holiday tradition… to enjoy and celebrate all that life has to offer with my husband and friends.
We don’t have to fit into a perfect holiday mold that we think people expect from us.
I have plans to watch the lighted boat parade in our community, make wreaths, sing Christmas carols, bake, sit and stare at the twinkle lights in my home, and so much more! And I can’t wait.
I look forward to spending more time living the holidays and truly remembering the reason for the season, and less time just going through the motions.
What about you? Drop me a comment below and tell me what you are looking forward to this holiday season and what your favorite holiday tradition is.
Until next time,
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