How to close out the holiday season and start the New Year

The close of this year also marks for me six months in Chicago. Our first holiday season in the new city involved trying on new traditions, moving out of our comfort zones, and reviewing what I’ve achieved with this move and setting an agenda for the next six months.

My daughter’s middle school guidance counselor told me that she had personality traits that “would serve her well in college and career, not so much in middle and high school.” I am happy to report now, that she was right. My daughter finished her first semester of college one B shy of a 4.0. This is huge. Although while my concern for my daughter’s future declines, the one I’ve been worried about is me.

The holiday season brought a lot of opportunities for networking. I went to a couple of holiday parties for some of the organizations I’ve joined since moving out here – Rotary, The Transition Network, the Professional Women’s Club of Chicago, and my local Indivisible Chapter. I finally got to a weekend “run and coffee” with Moms Run This Town. I’m making connections. I’m just not making money and that’s a little scary as my savings dwindles, college debt mounts, and I still haven’t been able to fully fix the issues with our health insurance.

I was also navigating the holidays without some of the coping mechanisms that I put in place over the last four years. No holiday party with friends at Mary’s Place this year. No Christmas week escape to someplace warm. While I am happy about having my boyfriend near now, that also means another attempt at blending families. My daughter opted out of their Thanksgiving dinner and declined an invitation to a pre-holiday family gathering last week. I didn’t push. I wasn’t sure I was up to going myself.

I went and was glad I did. He was very appreciative I was there. We were celebrating his pre-Christmas birthday too, so it made me happy to be part of it. What I wasn’t prepared for that evening – because everything about being part of his family’s gathering was honestly fine – was feeling a sense of grief and mourning over the loss of my own family. I was really missing everyone – my parents, aunt and uncle, husband, and even my (former) in-laws. All the years invested in those relationships. Not just missing everyone but feeling old and tired. Starting over at 53 is difficult.

It will prove to be worth it, I know. If I didn’t think my boyfriend was a keeper before, I certainly know he is now. He has been understanding and patient and sensitive to my sensitivities – through all of this and the last six months.  My daughter will eventually and slowly blend in with this new definition of family in time. I will practice patience too and can surely understand.  I filled our time this week with fun foods, and some Chicago holiday traditions like Zoolights at the Lincoln Park Zoo and a drive up to Winnetka to see the “Home Alone” house.

Christmas Day was a smaller family gathering that my daughter attended. It went better than I was imagining.  When I walked the dog around my quiet neighborhood last night as Christmas 2018 came to a close, I felt comforted in knowing that we were moving forward in a positive way. I am grateful for Christmas’ past and present, and looking forward with eager anticipation to all that lies before us.

Although not before I do a Year End Review. It’s hard to plan for success in 2019 if I don’t evaluate what worked this year. That holds true in running, career, and life. I found this Training Peaks Blog  post, “How to do a productive end of season review” (although discussing triathlon training), to be helpful in evaluating my running and preparing for another marathon year ahead.

Asking yourself “What I did well?” “What didn’t go well and why?” and ‘What needs to change?” is a good approach to taking inventory professionally, too. I like starting with what did I do well? Even in the worse of years, we’ve accomplished something even if its only surviving. Let’s give ourselves credit! Then in analyzing what didn’t go well and why, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much. I don’t like using words like “poorly” or failure. Just take inventory – don’t judge – and then answer what needs to change?

In that final answer, we can set the steps for achieving our 2019 goals. However in these last few days of the year, start with gratitude. I am thankful for friends and family near and far, making new connections, opportunities that await, a daughter in college hitting her stride, and love. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Just pure love.

Happy New Year.

Christmas morning. Oak Street Beach. Chicago, Illinois. December 2018.

2 thoughts on “How to close out the holiday season and start the New Year

  • December 26, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks for the honesty, the frailty, and the hope. Maybe we’ll meet one day. MaryLu – say hi to “boyfriend”…xxoo

    • January 5, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      Thanks Mary! Will do. And yes, please come visit us in Chicago! I am in NJ at the moment. With friends in Bergen until Tues. Appt in NYC Wednesday and then back to IL on Thursday.


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