Standing at the Crossroads

We put up our Christmas tree last night, the day after Thanksgiving. This used to be something of a tradition in my family–not a hard-and-fast rule kind of tradition, but something I used to love to do. I used to love decorating for the holidays, but somewhere along the way, I stopped wanting to decorate at all. Two years ago I dragged the tree inside, but never bothered to put a single decoration on it. Last year I didn’t even bother to drag it into the house.

I think one of the reasons I stopped decorating was that nobody wanted to help me. Let’s face it–it’s a lot of work if nobody cares. This year, my youngest daughter (who moved something like two million miles away earlier this year) created a cartoon on Bitstrips featuring my oldest daughter and me. It’s funny, but I also found it touching.

My youngest daughter inherited the decorating gene from me, and she has an artistic flair that far surpasses my own. Just about the time I stopped decorating, she shifted into high gear–but in her own house, not mine. I don’t know if this cartoon had anything to do with it, but this year my oldest daughter and I independently ended up at the same place (which actually happens quite frequently.)

Even though it was “just” the two of us for Thanksgiving this year, we decided to actually cook a full-fledged dinner. We decided (and this was huge!) that we deserved a nice dinner as much as the next person. And, my daughter announced, we were going to put up the tree this year, the day after Thanksgiving. I don’t think she’s ever wanted to do that in her life. But even though I’m sick this year and can barely breathe without coughing, I wasn’t going to argue. I had also reached the conclusion that we needed to stop channeling our inner Scrooges and get with the program.

Why am I sharing all of this here? Because anybody who struggles with weight issues knows that weight is so much more than just the math. Anybody who struggles with weight issues knows more about nutrition than most of the world, but we simply choose, for one reason or another, not to give a rat’s patoot. For most of us, weight loss or gain is much more about the emotional garbage we’re hauling around. We find comfort or safety in being heavy. People tend not to notice us when we’re heavy. They may notice our weight. They may even be disgusted or repelled by it. But that’s okay because once we get past the initial sting of rejection, we’re actually quite happy that they don’t pay any attention to the person beneath it. No matter how much we hate the weight, it’s also our best friend.

In the past few years, I’ve also found that it’s much harder to embrace the weight when I’m not mired in the emotional junk. I’ve spent a great deal of my life mired. Stuck. Angry and hurt, nurturing the fears, the hatreds, and the jealousies that make me most miserable. I’ve found a gazillion and one things to blame my weight issues on, and most of them are valid–to a point. But only to a point.

Ultimately, no matter who did what to me and what I felt about those things at the time, and what I’ve decided to feel about them years later, they’re nothing more than places to hide from the rest of the world. I can’t control what someone else does. Especially as a child, I couldn’t control what someone else chose to do. But no matter what it is or who did it, I can control how I react to it.

So this year, my youngest daughter, her husband, and the two grandkids are two million miles away for the holidays. Can’t control that. I can’t afford to go see them for the holidays. Can’t change that. Even if I could, it’s their year with my son-in-law’s parents. Can’t change that (and, for the record, don’t want to.) Except for my nephew and his family, the rest of my family live another two million miles beyond that. Can’t get there. Can’t change that. Can’t afford to go Christmas shopping. Can’t change that.

This is where the decision point lies. I’m standing in the middle of the crossroads, but I get to choose which road I take.

So do I let myself feel bad about all the things I can’t change, or do I sidestep the trap and change my attitude? There’s always going to be a long list of things I don’t have. That’s just life. But there’s an even longer list of things I do have. Great family, wonderful friends, a nice house, a raggedy old Charlie Brown Christmas tree that’s seen better days, but it’s still a tree and plenty of decorations that won’t cost me a cent to use.

I can put up my tree and do my best not to care if there are no gifts beneath it. I can refuse to let myself get dragged into the quicksand of what’s wrong with my life and focus instead on what’s right. So that’s my plan, and I’m sticking to it!

I maintained my weight last week. Dropped 1.2 pounds this week (even with that Thanksgiving dinner!)

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