Last night was as bad as I thought it would be.

The day had been navigated well, and in spite of not going to my sister’s house or doing the New Traditions with Niece and Neff (poor Sis was ill, and we didn’t want to share her germs), Husby and I had a chilled-out afternoon.

I went for a run, and missed my damn 10mile goal by 0.5 of a mile, but I didn’t let it stress me.

Dinner was nice, and we watched the season finale of Homeland and had a laugh about it.

Then two hours before midnight the panic set in.

The Facebook updates were coming thick and fast – photo after photo of beautiful children, smiling as their Christmas was about to begin – trees and decorations which happy families had worked on together to make all thinks sparkly wonderful.

I couldn’t not watch.

I put myself through hell, because I couldn’t tear myself away – I want this so much – I want to see how it’s done. I want to vicariously enjoy that people get to do Christmas with their kids – that the magic is there for them, and that it’s right and good and perfect – even as it kills me.

The midnight service was a sombre affair, tucked away upstairs in the balcony, in the dark, while everyone else sang their hearts out and got excited downstairs in the pews.

My mum came and sat with Husby and I, and we huddled in our pain and hurts, and cried and weren’t noticed.

Then Husby and I went home and drank (his suggestion, for once) and I ended up (to borrow from the lovely Kate again) with the following status on Facebook

“I’m ‘spills wine down the Tigger onesie and doesn’t notice’ drunk”

Then sleep, and blessed release.

This morning, no hangover, and I even managed to shove the few, small things I’d bought for Husby, into his Christmas Stocking and dump them on the bed next to him. Made him a cup of tea, too. And felt bad because he’s given up so much Christmas for me.

Then I cleaned in the kitchen and waited.

At the appointed hour, we drove into town, to the hall where the Christmas Cafe was taking place.

Open for (primarily) the homeless and the lonely, it’s running for three days and began today. A disparate group of volunteers were all standing around, wearing their name badges like armour, and looking uncomfortable. We joined the ranks.

Once the jobs were handed out though, and we got going, the talk started happening, and we reached out to each other, exchanged names, stories, backgrounds. Reasons for being there. And I found connection with others who were also running from Christmas day. Who also didn’t want to be at home and didn’t feel as though they were doing a noble or unselfish thing, but that they were the beneficiary of the exercise. We comforted each other that the guests would just be pleased that we were there, serving them and making the day happen, and that they’d be blessed by our presence no matter how we came to be there.

And it was game-changing.

Once things got going (and there were 76 guests and about 25 volunteers, so they really did get going), there was no time to think.

There was time to laugh.

Time to serve.

Time to bitch about the couple of idiot volunteers who were winding everyone up by being too enthusiastic and literally taking the plates of food away from others who were trying to serve.

There was time to interact (briefly, for me) with people who are used to being overlooked.

There was time to show each of them some respect, and treat them with gentleness and deference.

There was time to encourage other volunteers.

There was time to feed back how good it had been, and what a resounding success the day was.

And the guy in charge said that historically (because the Christmas Cafe has been running for many years) the volunteers usually find that in giving of themselves in this way, they usually also receive.

I received peace; happiness; contentment.

I was absolutely in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.

My Christmas was made in making it special for others.

And it has been beautiful.

Later I go to my mum’s and sit with her and WonderAunty and nibble fancy-schmancy foods (I’m starving, because in spite of feeling better, I still kept Christmas at arm’s length and didn’t eat the lunch or the pudding or the chocolates or the anything. I had two cups of tea and that was fine – that wasn’t ‘special to the day’) and watch Downton Abbey, and maybe play Scrabble.

And once the clock has struck midnight, I can come home, and know that not only did I survive the day – but that it went well.

So to everyone who’s been worried about me or sending me prayers or best wishes that this day would find me coping and not brought to my knees and able to pick myself up and carry on.

It worked.

Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Ten Things of Thankful
Ten Things of Thankful

36 thoughts on “Gamechanger

  1. I'm glad too. And now I can face the New Year!

    Homeland I think you'll enjoy. This season took a long time to get into and tbh wasn't as good as the others.

    The distraction on the 25th was perfect ๐Ÿ™‚ I'd recommend it to anyone.


  2. Volunteering on the 25th was a great idea! Such a good way to keep busy and mostly distracted. I haven't watched Homeland this season yet as don't have the station so am waiting until the whole season is available. I'm glad you survived Christmas ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Perhaps there is. Perhaps when the dark threads of life get turned over there'll be beauty in the tapestry. But for now I can't think of any lesson or meaning which would make this worthwhile.

    I daresay many people feel the same about their situation…


  4. Such a true quote, and so very apt! Thanks for sharing it with me. I'm glad too – it was a truly wonderful day in the end ๐Ÿ™‚ Take care, my dear friend, and enjoy the continuation of your holiday season x


  5. Funny, I just had the quote of the day on my calendar at work say: It's impossible to do something good for someone else wholeheartedly without also doing something good for oneself. Loved it, because it's so true. I'm glad you were able to spend your holiday with a cause meaningful to you and make it through the day. Keeping you in my thoughts tonight!!


  6. Awwwwh thanks hun. That means a lot to me. And yeah, I noticed…

    I definitely think the well-wishes, hopes held and prayers from blogger friends and IRL friends made a HUGE difference. There is really no other explanation (given how I was feeling before) for how damn well that day went.

    YAY! indeed!

    Enjoy your time being a CaveGirl. I guess this is one of those times of year where the priorities *should* be offline as much as possible. Hope you are full of happy happy joy joy.

    And no fighting, or I'll fetch the hose…


  7. I was thinking of you. I was a little worried, hoping things went okay yesterday. As you've probably noticed, I'm on a bit of a cyberspace/blogosphere hiatus, but I turned on my computer today specifically to visit your blog and see how things played out for ya. *exhale* I'm so happy for you and proud of you! You Did It. And you said it best: you were in the exact right place at the exact right time, with about 50+ blogger-friends holding your hopes, wishing you the best, praying for you. YAY.

    *sigh* okay……stepping back into the cave-o-hiatus. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

    p.s, CHRIS, don't think for a second I don't see you up there, above me, looking all innocent. *borrows down. flares nostrils. readies for the tackle*


  8. Yes. This. Exactly. That. You did good girl… SO good. And may His Love continue to surround you and give you comfort and peace, amidst the storm. And may His Spirit continue to lead you through those dark days- toward light.


  9. Now that sounds awesome. Did you have many there? What a gorgeous idea, because Christmas is a really tough time to be lonely, as much as it's tough to be homeless. I think there may even have been a few lonely, housed people at the lunch I helped at…


  10. Good, end bless your heart for caring so much, Lisa. You truly are something special ๐Ÿ™‚ *HUGS*

    They really were efforts, but they were CHOICES, and while I still don't buy into the 'you can choose to be happy' I do think that this, in its way, backs up the statement. The game done got changed.

    And yes – I'm all about the future path and making sure it's done RIGHT next year. I have missed Christmas, and I've been sad not to have it, as much as I've been terrified and scared and hurt by the idea of it.

    Thank you for your prayers. I'm sure that they're what swung it in the end – there is no earthly reason for the day to have gone as well as it did.


  11. I love the idea of the Hall!! We tried something similar (not to skip Christmas but to provide a place for people with little family) at our new event venue – it was a fun way to spend the day!!!


  12. That's the awesome thing about being even the little bit selfless. You end up being, as you said, “the beneficiary of the exercise.” How amazing is it when you can do something good for someone else and it's equally good for you? I'm so glad that you survived the day and it went well, Lizzi.


  13. I am so happy to know this. Can I tell you something? Wondering how you were handling things is what made me jump on the Bloglovin' feed during my self-imposed unplugged period…just had to see how you were.

    I am so glad to know that these efforts (and I do know that they most likely were just that – efforts) have brought you some peace. I love this the most – “We're gonna work on traditions next year.” That's a future path! A goal! Good for you. I've prayed so hard that you would find just what you've described here.

    Go you.


  14. Me too! Such a RELIEF! I think the pleasant surprise of it has been one of the best things. I hope to hang onto those things for as long as possible.

    Peace be with you, Kristi x *hugs*


  15. I changed the motions and went through with gusto and it WORKED. I'm still on a high.

    It's now TODAY and Christmas is OVER and it's starry, frosty-beautiful outside and NOT-CHRISTMAS and I can breathe again. And get on with life until the next dip.


  16. I was glad to write it – ohmigosh!

    I'm just still stunned that it's been (for the large part) okay, and hoping to carry that on til after midnight and then I'm home and dry ๐Ÿ˜€

    Glad to read your post today, too. Thanks for that โค


  17. Christmas to me is and always has been about family, about togetherness, about the traditions and the love. And without family, and missing the babies who should've been, and the hurt that 'just the two of us' doesn't feel like enough…that's hard. I don't think it's a British thing – I think it's a Griefish thing. I know others in similar situations.

    We're gonna work on traditions next year. But the peace is SO welcome.


  18. I'm glad you were treating your soul today. Last night was very difficult, I know and good for husby for knowing there's a time for drinks. โค Glad to read this update today.


  19. Oh I'm so glad that you feel better. Christmas isnt just about presents and kids at least not to me. I was happy single without kids. Its actually harder with kids because I cant go nuts decorating and cooking and baking. So I guess I dont understand. Maybe its a British thing. But I'm glad you are making your own traditions. And your finding peace in that.


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