Tea and Sympathy

I’m feeling a little fragile here on the other side of Thanksgiving, the kitchen still piled with mixing bowls even after three dishwasher loads (which my longsuffering and all-around-awesome husband did when I wasn’t looking) and Christmas flurrying in the 30-day forecast.

I shouldn’t feel fragile. We were gifted yesterday with a gorgeous, full-volume American Thanksgiving at a friend’s house, complete with rare-to-us delicacies like green bean casserole and (be still my heart) pecan-crusted sweet potatoes, after which we played Balderdash. No game does my word-nerdy expat heart quite as much good as Balderdash. Full of good food and laugh lines, I came home and queued up the Sufjan Christmas playlist, and I should be glowing every bit as brightly as the snowflake lights strung up around town.

Should doesn’t have much sway over my emotional life though, and I’m trusting wise women like Anne Lamott and Glennon Melton who say that it is in fact possible to sit with uncomfortable emotions, offer them tea and sympathy, and live to tell about the encounter. It’s a tough challenge, this. I prefer the Freakout And Then Disengage approach, subjecting my fragile illogical feelings to a tirade and then opening Facebook so I can stop interacting with them for a while. I’m not sure that this is the healthiest approach, however, and it is exactly as effective as covering my own eyes to prevent a monster from seeing me. It doesn’t make the thing go away.

Today’s fragility is a mixed bag, really. It’s sadness that we won’t be with family for the holidays mixed with sparkling anticipation of time with friends and of our own little open-ended Christmas. It’s abundant gratefulness for the people in our lives contrasting with good old-fashioned introvert exhaustion. It’s nausea of body and soul over a confrontation that I find myself obligated to pursue tempered with the assurance that everything most important to me is okay regardless of how it turns out. I’m hopeful and anxious and tired and enthused all at once, and I suppose, looking at it in those terms, that a little breakability is only to be expected.

Have some tea, self. You’re doing just fine.

Your turn now. How are you holding up here in these unpredictable holiday waters? If you could use a little tea and sympathy for your own fragile illogical feelings, come on over; I have plenty to share.

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  1. Yes. I wish I could say I would be right over, but I am trying to catch up on 5! late assignments for my class that I am taking. The teacher should be a good student, right? That is part of the curriculum that I am TEACHING. Today is that day, I have done ONE, and I am about to start on number 2. Please don’t look in my dropboxes either. Or in my school bag where an abundance of papers lurk. I haven’t even begun to think about the whole “Christmas” thing. I am denying that this is the season right now. And that is just the professional stuff. The personal stuff, well, that is just as heavy right now. So, I really wish that tea was closer!

    Have I told you how thankful I am for YOU? I am. And, I know that you have joy sitting right behind the breakability, so my wish for you is to get there. We all will. The road may be bumpy, but we all travel well. Sending you BIG LOVE Bethany! xo

  2. I am so thankful that you are here, sharing your words and your ideas and your love and your photos. I totally get the expat holiday fragility, though after so long abroad, I’ve made my peace (mostly) with it. Hugs to you, my fragile friend!

  3. It will be my first Christmas in my new home, in my new country, on a continent one million miles away from the family I have not spent a single Christmas separated from. My soul needs vodka, not tea!

  4. There’s definitely some “good old fashioned introvert exhaustion” going on for me, after a very nice Thanksgiving with my family. I’m feeling behind at work, it’s cold and gray, and things feel in-between all around. Sending you the very best, and thank you for the tea and sympathy!

  5. Megsie – Teaching and doing coursework AND being a mama at once? I would give you a month of wide open uninterrupted time for Christmas if I could. Hell, a year! I wish tea together were closer as well, but I’m glad to have you here as close to in-person as possible. xo

    Liz – It’s comforting to know that the instability of expat holiday time evens out over the years. This will be our sixth Christmas in Italy but our first without any relatives and our first in this house–plenty of newness to go around. I so appreciate your perspective and encouragement. Big thanks, friend.

    Kelly – I hear you, friend. You’re welcome to swing by for a stiff drink anytime! I’ll be thinking of you and M and the girls this Christmas. Love and light to you all.

    Willow – The cold and gray never helps, does it? Will you be able to soak up a little Spanish sun over the holidays? I’m sending restful, cheer-ful vibes your way.

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