Saturday, January 4, 2014

My 500 Words: Day 4 - The Great Escape

The Christmas holiday was especially difficult this season, having recently lost our six year old daughter, Peyton.  We are still in that season of going through "firsts" without her, and this Christmas was the first she wasn't with us.  We purposely decided that we needed to keep our holidays simple.  I couldn't tell you months in advance that it would be ok to receive guests for the holidays because I didn't know how I'd be feeling 5 minutes from now, much less 5 months from now.  It wouldn't have been fair to commit to certain plans, whether they were to have people here or for us to travel to visit people over the holidays.  We knew in advance that the holidays would come with challenges, and the holidays did not disappoint where that is concerned.

What I didn't realize when we planned on a low-key holiday season was just how low-key it was going to be!  I injured my ankle back at the beginning of September and have dealt with blood clots in my lungs and problems with my ankle ever since.  The bad sprain turned out to be a torn tendon and it required surgery, which happened on December 12th - just in time for the holidays.  It's one thing to plan on a quiet holiday because you need to be in a certain space as you deal with the issues surrounding the loss of a loved one and the first holiday without them.  It's quite another to be forced into an even more low-key holiday than you had anticipated because of other health issues which cause you to be unable to do anything for the holidays even if you wanted to!

Fact:  Our family did not have a single "holiday" meal in 2013.  Peyton was in the hospital over Easter and I "enjoyed" a fast food combo as I sat at her bedside.  Thanksgiving was a bust because I was still dealing with a lot of pain issues with my foot as well as extreme lack of energy because of the blood clots in my lungs.  Christmas fell 13 days after my surgery, so there was no cooking a big meal then either.

Fact:  I enjoy cooking a big holiday meal almost as much as I enjoy eating it!

Fact:  I am not complaining, per se.  This is just an observation I made last night.

My low-key, quiet Christmas was most definitely that.  However, I couldn't help but think of a Christmas Ron a I shared several years ago and it made me wish that this past Christmas could have been like that if it weren't for all my health issues.  It was the "great escape Christmas".  Ok, so it wasn't called that at the time - I am simply putting that name to it now because, well, that's kind of what it was.

Ron and I had a stillborn son in August 2001.  He was the first grand-child on both sides of the family. We spent Christmas 2001 with my family, but there was just so much hurt and heartache going on by the time Christmas of 2002 hit that we just wanted to get away from it all.  We wanted to escape reality if only for a little while.  We dispensed with the tradition of spending the holidays with either of our families and Ron and I drove from Houston, TX {where we lived at the time} to Las Vegas, NV.  Yes, Christmas was spent in Las Vegas!  We thought "Who is going to be in Las Vegas for Christmas?  It'll be dead."  You want to know who goes to Las Vegas for Christmas??  Asia.  In all the trips we've taken to Las Vegas, this Christmas trip was probably the most densely packed I've ever seen the Strip!

View of the Las Vegas Strip from our hotel room - photo taken July 2013, but it's the same hotel we stayed in when we traveled to Las Vegas for Christmas!  Obviously there is some new construction happening, but it's fairly close to what we would have looked out on that Christmas Day.

We packed some gifts for each other and toted them all the way across the miles to our hotel on the Strip.  We exchanged gifts on Christmas morning in our hotel room without the benefit of the soft glowing lights of a Christmas tree.  We had an incredible champagne Christmas brunch at the buffet in our hotel.  We ate.  We slept.  We tried to decompress.

To this day, I have to say that this particular Christmas stands out as one of our best.  Of course, once children came along in 2004 things changed and we have stuck to tradition ever since, but in my mind, the escape plan of 2002 was ideal.  I'm not saying that this is something that we'd consider doing each and every year, Moira in tow.  What I am saying is that in the season we were in, "the great escape" was exactly what we needed.  For us and for that time, it was perfect.  It didn't take away the hurts we were feeling because of the burden of the losses we carried on our shoulders, but it gave us a break from the reality of our everyday life.  I've always said that Las Vegas is our "go to" place for when we need to escape from reality.  That is why we've been there 7 or 8 times together!

As I sit here today reflecting on that Christmas, I can't help but think that this past Christmas would have been the perfect time for a repeat "great escape Christmas", Moira in tow.  It would not have been possible considering all I'm dealing with right now, but it's nice to dream.  Perhaps we'll revisit this idea another holiday season.  You never know what the future holds!

Have you ever abandoned tradition during the holidays?  What did you do?  I'd love to hear!

{if you're counting - that was 933 words for my fourth My 500 Words post, for a total of 3,457 this month!}
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