Grown-Up Christmas

I put up a Christmas tree by myself yesterday.

In years past, I’ve put up small trees–in my dorm room, apartment, or parents’ basement, and I’ve always loved helping my mom decorate their house for Christmas.

But this felt different. I put the stand together, carefully screwed the base of the tree in place so it wouldn’t move, fitted each section together, strung the lights (twice, actually, cause the first time didn’t look very good), then hung my set of Target clearance section plastic ornaments. I was pleased with how it turned out.treeIn ways it was nice to decorate by myself. I went at my own pace, picked whatever Christmas music I wanted to listen to, and got to decide which ornaments went where, occasionally rearranging them multiple times (I just moved a couple more after writing that sentence).

It felt a little weird though. There’s something about Christmas trees, and the season in general, that speak of home and family and warmth and coziness. I really like my current living situation, but I can’t let myself forget that it’s temporary. This is the only Christmas season that tree will spend in this living room, and it’s the only one I’ll spend living here as well.

As comfortable as I sometimes feel in this stage of life, yesterday was a reminder that things can still be a little weird here. This whole holiday season, starting next week with Thanksgiving and stretching through New Year’s, is going to be a new kind of experience for me.

I’ve always had weird work hours through the holidays, and now I’ll be working almost completely regular ones (though I’m taking a few days off).

I’ve always gone home to my parents’ house or already been living there for most of the month of December, and now I’ll only be there for a few days around Thanksgiving and a few more around Christmas (and even then, it’s mostly because my roommate would likely be gone and I can’t bear the thought of waking up in an empty house on a holiday).

I’ve always looked at the new year as the start of a new semester, and now, it will be just a new date on my emails at work.

Considering how notoriously bad at change I am, I’m not dreading these changes as much as I thought I might. It is different though, and I’m grappling with the realization that this is what adulthood looks like. Or at least my own version of it, for right now. Decorating a tree by myself, working nearly regular hours, only spending a few days here and there at my parents house. A grown-up Christmas, I suppose.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. How did you deal with the changes adulthood brings about, especially when it comes to holidays?

5 Reasons Being Single Rocks

I’m single. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it. So this week, I want to take a look at both sides—a celebration of some of the great things about singleness, and also a frank look at some of the not-so-awesome things.

First up, 5 Reasons Being Single Rocks.

1)      You get to go where you want, when you want, with who you want.

No arguments because one of you wants to go out for pizza and the other wants Chinese, no phone calls checking in to see if your significant other is okay with you hanging out with a friend after work, no trying to make excuses for not wanting to hang out with your significant other’s friends that you find irritating for no explainable reason. You go where you want, my single friend. When you want, with who you want.

2)      Your time is your own.

While this is sometimes used as a way to (rather unfairly, I think) coerce singles into doing a ton of stuff (staying late at work, volunteering for every single ministry at church, babysitting for free every weekend), the reality is that a relationship with a significant other does take a lot of time, so not having one generally means your schedule is a bit more free (or at the very least, you don’t have to coordinate it with someone else). Being single may leave room for endeavors like trying new sports, writing a book, becoming an amateur chef, or…ya know, watching entire TV series in one weekend.

3)      You get to eat whatever you want.

This sounds silly, but it’s true. Onions, cilantro, extra-spicy Thai food, and every other food known for leaving a lingering aroma—it’s all fair game. No avoiding peanuts or soy or wheat because your significant other is allergic to them. Go have a hamburger on a bun with onions and a side of the spiciest salsa you can find, then wash it all down with a giant spoonful of peanut butter and maybe a glass of milk. No worries about grossing someone out or accidentally causing an allergic reaction.

4)      On holidays, there are no arguments over whose family you’re going to spend time with.

Some of the other reasons here touch on this concept, but it really deserves its own spot on the list. Holidays became a lot more complicated once my siblings had significant others. Figuring out where you were last Christmas, and how that works since you were also with Family A for Thanksgiving, but this year Family B changed their plans…add in children and/or stepfamilies, and it’s an even messier deal. Meanwhile, for the single folk, you just pick a place and go. Holiday plans set.

5)      There are major upsides to living alone. (Since I don’t live alone, this is just what I’ve heard–though my roommate and I often run on very different schedules, and therefore it sometimes feel like I’m living alone).

No cleaning up after another person. No arguments over what to watch on TV. No one complaining about your tendency to walk around in pajamas all day and spontaneously break out into dancing. You want to make some fruit friends to keep you company? I hear lemons look nice with a bowtie.

 

Most of these are a variation of a very basic theme: freedom. To some extent, being single is a lot easier than being in a relationship. There are so many things you don’t have to do when you’re single that you do have to do when you’re in a relationship. When you don’t have one specific person that you’re always looking out for, you do spend more time thinking about yourself. Though this can (but doesn’t have to) result in selfishness, it can be quite freeing and rather enjoyable.

But, like all things, there are certainly downsides of being single as well…check back later this week for 5 Reasons Being Single Sucks.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. If you’re single, what’s your favorite part about it? If you’re no longer single, what WAS your favorite part about it?

Haggis and Holidays

If you look at the archives for this blog from October 2012, you will see that I blogged every day that month.

It was a lot of writing, not all of it good, not all of it bad. It was part of a 31 Amazing Days Challenge, inspired by the book This Ordinary Adventure by Christine and Adam Jeske.

Amazing days are defined by them as “anything that made a day unusual, silly, daring, faithful, wacky, or bold.” Amazing Days “drew us out of the mundane ruts of life and into small (and large) attempts to make the most of life.” (This Ordinary Adventure, p. 9-10)

Intentionally creating amazing days gets difficult after a while.

And for me, it’s probably about to get harder.

Next Tuesday, I start a full-time job as a publicist at a publishing house.

It will be a learning curve, in more ways than I’m probably aware of even right now.

40 hours a week, maybe more sometimes.

Big changes.

I’m confident I can learn what I may not know about how to do the job.

But something I can’t learn from a boss, coworkers, or Google is how to make sure my life outside of work does not become so routine, usual, and rut-esque that I become hopelessly bored.

~~~~~~~~~~~

The idea started with a calendar I got when I was in Edinburgh last May. It has pictures of landscapes of the city and landmarks, and its dates are marked with many holidays that aren’t celebrated in the U.S.

Like Burns Day, in celebration of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. It takes place on his birthday, January 25, so I talked 2 friends into celebrating with me last Friday.

We had a very nontraditional Burns Supper. Not personally knowing many people who actually celebrate this holiday, Wikipedia became the best source available.

The traditional meal consists of haggis, mashed potatoes (tatties), and mashed turnips (neeps). There are several speeches and toasts, and guests take turns reading poems by Burns.

Photo Credit: Flickr User zoonabar, Creative Commons

Haggis.
Photo Credit: Flickr User zoonabar, Creative Commons

We had mashed potatoes and a dessert similar to one I had on my visit to Edinburgh. Haggis isn’t readily available in this area, nor do I imagine I’d like it, but I stumbled through “Address to a Haggis” anyway. The evening ended with Braveheart, which is at least set in Scotland.

It was by no means a perfect or traditional Burns Supper, but that’s not really the point.

It was unusual.

It was fun.

It was different.

It was amazing.

And so as I work my full-time job, I’m going to continue to celebrate holidays I find on my calendar. I haven’t yet decided what the next one I celebrate will be, but again, it will not be a perfect celebration. And again, that’s ok.

Perfection is not the point.

Days don’t need perfection to be amazing. Instead, these are the imperfections, the oddities, the random celebrations that will keep life interesting. And a little amazing.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Do you know of any other random holidays I might be able to celebrate this year?

Things That Don’t Belong on Pedestals: Holidays

(This is the second post about Things That Don’t Belong on Pedestals. The first, on relationships, can be found here.)

A few weeks ago we celebrated Thanksgiving, and in a couple weeks we will celebrate Christmas. Soon after there will be New Year’s, then spring brings Easter, summer the Fourth of July, and a few other smaller holidays sprinkled in there as well.

I really like holidays. I look forward to them, anticipate them, even check websites that countdown to them. And in the process, I sometimes expect too much out of them, and end up putting holidays on a pedestal.

My family's Christmas tree from last year

My family’s Christmas tree from last year

Traditionally, the day after Christmas is one of my least favorite days of the year. As a kid it wasn’t so bad; it was a great day to play with all the new toys, and if we were lucky, Mom and Dad were both home from work. Yet as I got older and looked forward to Christmas more, the letdown of the day after became all the more pointed. For weeks, even months, I had looked forward to Christmas day, and all of a sudden, in a flurry of family and food and wrapping paper, it was over.

Now, I’m even more aware of how quickly the actual holiday goes by. As I’m trying to value the true meaning of Christmas, and be intentional about experiencing Advent as a season of waiting, I have to realize that the 24 hours that are labeled “Christmas” are…just that. 24 hours. No more, no less, than any other day. The same goes for all the other holidays we celebrate throughout the year–we give them a label of holiday and expect them to be perfect, when in reality, they won’t.

One year I had the stomach flu on Christmas. Not how I wanted to spend my day, but it was one of the only times as a child I got to watch the Santa Claus parade on TV. For years I seemed to get a cold on every major holiday, and that came true again a few weeks ago on Thanksgiving. Because although I put so much weight on holidays, expecting them to be perfect and live up to my every perfect wish…they are a day. Things may go wrong, things may go right, but the clock will still move at the same pace it does every other day of the year.

Not that there’s anything wrong with celebrating holidays; I’m still very much looking forward to Christmas. But for me to expect them to be perfect, idyllic, postcard-worthy scenes–that’s not accurate, nor does it help me enjoy them. A better way to look at them might be to appreciate holidays for what they are, but accept that all will not go as planned, and embrace the chaos as it does or doesn’t come.

Because holidays don’t belong on pedestals.

Til next time…

~Brianna!~

p.s. Do you ever expect too much out of holidays? How does that affect the way you do or do not enjoy them?