Tag Archives: Holidays

Valentine’s Day

It’s the first major holiday of the year (I mean, you can’t miss it with all the pink and red in every store), and it is wrapped in mystery as to its origins.  Like some other major holidays of the year, it seems to be a Christian holiday derived from a popular pagan ritual.  And that ritual is all about fertility (and apparently some lottery where the women of the town were matched up with single men).  There is even some disagreement as to which St. Valentine is being celebrated, but ultimately the holiday has evolved into a celebration of love.

But in our culture, the pressure of exactly how one shows that love on Valentine’s Day seems to be over the top.  Extravagant gifts, extravagant trips.  Bigger, better, filtered depictions of life.  Buy all the cards, flowers, chocolates, jewelry.  And the ones we need to hold close, we keep a selfie-length distance away.  And we do it all in a style that comes across easy.

The reality is that relationships are hard.  And not just the romantic ones.  Every relationship brings heartbreak and disappointment, and joy and fulfillment.  It takes active, intentional work to maintain healthy and vibrant relationships.  I think celebrating the people in your life who support you, who stick around through the mess and chaos, is vitally important.

This year, I’ve been trying to look intentionally on my decisions to find out if I’m making them out of a spirit of conviction or a spirit of people pleasing.  Whether I’m doing something because I feel like I’m supposed to, or if I really actually want to participate.

Before any plans were made this year, I thought about why we do the things we do on Valentine’s Day.  It was really good and healthy to take inventory of our why.  So, a couple of things I want to incorporate this year:

  • First, I want to be a little more private with how I celebrate.  There is this running joke that says if you don’t post about it, it didn’t happen.  But perhaps not posting about any of the details might be a bit refreshing and help me live more in the moment.  This isn’t a judgment call on what other people decide to do, by the way (because public declarations of love and recorded memories have their place as well).  This is just a me thing. 
  • Second, I want to broaden the holiday.  I want to take a moment to sit down and write to some of the relationships in my life that need to be celebrated.  And this is a great opportunity to do just that. 

I don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  But I do need to be aware and intentional about the choices I make in life, despite what may be expected of me by others.  This particular holiday can be an opportunity to be the kind of intentional that I want to be.  Maybe let go of the clutter of this holiday and focus on the simple and sweet that really reflects my relationships. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be special.

However way you choose to celebrate, if you even want to celebrate at all, I hope you find joy and connection this month with friends and family.  I know this day can be hard, lonely, and isolating.  But the truth is you are not alone, you are so very loved, and you are so very, very precious.  Happy Valentine’s Day, friends!

DFS: Week 15, Some Housekeeping and the Holidays

The video where I talk about how the Holidays got complicated and changed this year, and the future of these videos after November.

If you are wondering why my dog is in the background in this video (because he usually isn’t), it’s because we are still having some renovations done to the outside of our house, so he was hanging out with me.

3 Ways To Survive the Holidays


We lost our first daughter the day before Thanksgiving two years ago.  After our loss, we went straight into the holidays.  I remember how difficult that first holiday was, trying to navigate through grief and the holiday season.  Just like every other holiday season, I wanted to create memories and honor traditions, but it didn’t feel the same with the loss. All of the traditions and rituals were a reminder of what was missing.

I know a lot of people who are navigating their first holiday season without someone they love, and I wanted to share with you three things that I have learned that have helped me.

We all need space.  It is important especially during this busy season to remember to create space in your week for some self-care.  It may take a bit of planning and a bit of trying different things, but taking the time to care for yourself before immersing yourself in the chaos of the holidays can really help.  Just like in the airplane talk before takeoff, you must put the oxygen mask on your first before helping others.  Maybe it’s keeping a journal and carving out some time in your day to write.  Maybe it’s taking a hot bath one night a week.  Or maybe it’s a designated time for coffee with a trusted friend.  Whatever it is that will help you take moments of oxygen, create some space for it.

We need to take it at our own pace.  I remember that first year wishing that I could just take the grief, put it on a shelf, and resume the happy holidays.  But grief always seemed to find it’s way back into my arms when I least expected it, and at the most inopportune times.  I would compare myself to others who were grieving, some who seemed to be grieving more and some who seemed to have moved on with ease.  Of course, I didn’t know their whole story, and comparing myself to anyone for anything never helps.  I needed to be okay with where I was in my own grief, and be okay with voicing my needs when I was ready to do so.  Embracing it makes it a little easier to walk through grief.

We need to give ourselves grace.  Even though I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last two years, and a lot about grieving, I don’t have it all figured out.  I still have my breakdown moments, hours or days.  I still don’t know what to ask for at times. Sometimes I know what I need but I’m still afraid to ask.  The best I can do is realize that I’m still learning every day.  Learning about grief.  Learning about myself.  And giving myself the grace to be okay to make mistakes.  Learn from them.  And keep growing.

Navigating the holidays can be difficult for a lot of reasons.  I’m thankful that my community has given me the grace and space to grow through this process and allow me to move at my own pace.  And I’m thankful that God continues to walk with me on this journey through grief even during the holidays.

What The Holidays Are Like


The Christmas season (which starts with Thanksgiving in my opinion) is probably my favorite time of the year.  There are bright colors, happy songs, and presents.  And my love language is Gifts, so any holiday season that includes giving and receiving of gifts is top notch.

But this is also a time of year that is hard for a lot of people.  Maybe it’s someone who has passed away this year.  Maybe it’s a job that was lost or financial struggles.  Maybe it was a relationship that was broken.

I’ve been reflecting on how this Thanksgiving has been for me and I wanted to share with you a little window into what I’ve learned about grief this year.

I learned that grief manifests in different ways.  In the moment, I didn’t even identify it as grief, but it was.  Everything was heightened.  There were moments I felt depressed and anxious.  I felt guilty when I wanted to be alone when I felt overwhelmed or when I wasn’t very social.  I got to see a lot of my family that I don’t get to see very much, but a lot of the time, I didn’t know what to say or how to start a conversation.  I’m so thankful for my family who has been praying and is so understanding.  Despite myself, we had such great visits with everyone.

My feelings were raw and exposed. There were moments of anger.  In fact, Michael and I had a very lively disagreement (ok, a fight) towards the end of the week that we worked through with grace and a whole lot of listening to each other (of course, this was days after the fight happened, but it was a process).  We definitely grew as people and closer to each other.  It was uncomfortable and hard, but I’m very blessed to have a man who is willing to work through the hard and uncomfortable.

I also learned that grief triggers in different ways.  I learned that young infants crying are a serious trigger for me during these heightened days of grief.  Somewhere along the line, Michael learned that too.  One day this month, we were somewhere and a baby started crying.  Michael was across the room, but he stopped what he was doing and looked at me (we were doing different things at the time).  I nodded to him, and we left shortly after.  Someday, I hope that this won’t be as triggering as I really do love babies, but for now, it is.  So we are just aware of our limitations.

Last year, we were just grieving the first anniversary of my first daughter’s stillbirth, and the days leading up to it were harder than the actual day, itself.  This year, the anniversaries were harder.  Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving was my second daughter’s due date.  When I woke up that morning, that was the first thought that entered my head.  I felt it.  I cried in the shower that morning.  That Saturday was the second stillbirth day of my first daughter.  I cried that day, too, which surprised me.  I wasn’t as ready for that as I thought I would be.

I learned that it’s okay to have conflicting feelings at the same time, which I talked about in the video I posted the Friday after Thanksgiving.

I had moments of happiness as we built memories together just as much as I was sad that my daughters weren’t there physically with me in those memories.

The biggest lesson I took away from this experience is that I’m not alone.  I have amazing people willing to walk through the hard stuff with me and extend grace and space when I need it.  Even when I fear the wind and the waves, God is still right there with me.  I can be in my grief and still say I am blessed.

Something To Remember For The Holidays

I’m writing this week more for myself than for anyone else.  But every now and then you need a reminder of this reality, but I think it’s especially hard to remember going into the holidays at the end of the year.

It’s okay to not be okay.

I think about those people who have lost loved ones this year.  I lost my grandfather this summer, and the first year anniversary of losing my daughter is this month.  So I’m pretty sensitively aware of the sadness that quietly accompanies this time of year.  There is a lot of talk of family, memories, traditions, all good things.  All things I cherish.  But it also makes it very obvious what is missing or what we are hoping for that isn’t here.

But I don’t think those are the only “sufferers” in this season.

There are the ones that have lost their jobs, or are struggling to support their families.  The ones who are estranged from their families for a multitude of reasons.  The ones who aren’t in the place of life they thought the would be at the beginning of the year.  Plans fell through.  Disappointments happened.  And they look up and realize that another year is almost over, celebration is all around them, and there are times in the next couple of months that they just don’t feel like celebrating.

And then there are the people who look around the internet and see the perfect place settings, the pretty packages, the decorations and plans and organization, and they just struggle to “keep up.”  This time of year, while it is merry and bright, while they have all of their family and friends and a great job, still deal with the comparison and depression beasts in their life.  And they feel guilty because their lives could be much worse, and yet they still struggle.

I’m not trying to come down hard on the holidays.  And maybe it’s just my present perspective, but I know I’m not alone.  And I know that this time of year is almost magical at points.  I’m looking forward to hugging my mom and dad at Thanksgiving, to opening presents with my in laws at Christmas, to laughing and playing with friends and family at the Christmas parties, to humming Christmas music in the shower, smiling at the Christmas lights, drinking from red Starbucks cups, and kissing my husband under the mistletoe and at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

But I want to recognize and give permission to the dark moments in the next two months.  It’s okay to be frustrated.  It’s okay to be sad.  It’s okay to miss people and to talk about missing people.  You don’t need to be perfectly happy and coiffed and decorated this holiday season.  Jesus was born into this world to save the suffering, to reach out to the mourning, to heal the heartbroken.  And acknowledging that brokenness with open honesty I think is a great part in celebrating.

So, I give you permission.  Smile, laugh, cry, or scream.  Whatever you need to do this year, it’s completely and utterly okay.

It’s a Doggy Mardi Gras!

I was raised just outside of New Orleans, so today is more than just Tuesday…it’s Mardi Gras!  I have so many memories of going to parades, marching in parades, eating at church crawfish boils, devouring king cake and looking at all the crazy outfits people would wear. Continue reading