I told her I felt better. A week-long, nasty cold had finally abated.

“Thank goodness,” she replied. “With all the work we (as women, as mothers) have in December, it’s a very good thing.”

Yes, December means ‘more’: more shopping, more cooking, preparing, planning and people. It means more parties, more events with the children, more driving, more making sure that everyone is happy and has what they need, gets what they want. And for us, my friend and I, and so many other women, it falls right into our laps…right onto our shoulders. Some years the weight can be borne, while others it is simply too much.

There are plenty of articles across this world wide web with plenty of advice to ease the burden of a holiday season that has got you stifled at the throat. For my part, I’ll just say: “Bless you”. Bless you and your family and all that makes you you. You with your heart that wants to heal so many others that you often forget yourself. You with your good intentions that don’t always go as planned. May you be gentle- with yourself as well as with those you can never seem to please. May you allow yourself a little room to mess it all up. And may you know that, in the end, love is all that matters anyway.

This is the first Christmas I am looking forward to in years. Years! I used to love Christmas. The magic of it wrapped me up and propelled me. It carried me through all the ‘more’. But the past few years it wasn’t like that. It was a struggle through and through. Last year I even forgot completely about my daughter’s big gift. It sat in the basement all wrapped up as she looked at me with sad eyes saying “Is that it?”. And all the words of censure were at the tip of my tongue until I realized, in full-out embarrassment, that the one thing at the top of her list was still downstairs.

But this year I am finally myself again. There’s a lot on my plate, yet I feel OK. I’ve got this. And those years of struggle and haze had to be. I had to ride out the grief, the sadness and confusion. I had to. The only way through was through.

So “Bless you”. Wherever you are on your journey through this dualistic sweep of ups and downs. Bless you. Sometimes we appear to be ahead, other times we seem to be behind, but this marathon is only ever for ourselves…for our own souls. May you be gentle. May you mess up and laugh. And may you know that, in the end, love is all that matters anyway.

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