I hate New Years. Did I ever tell you all that? I hate it…always have. To be honest, Christmas Day has always been a tough one for me, too. Sunday nights, back when I was in school or work, and now, when I know Jonathan has to go back to work the next morning – hate those, too. It’s just because I’m one of those folks who is addicted to the build up, the excitement – and who has trouble accepting the letdown. Try being pregnant all year, having the baby, and then getting to that point when all the visitors stop coming and all the birth announcements go out and the baby actually starts outgrowing thing…oh, it’s a rough one for people like me. My mom and I were talking last night, and apparently it’s hereditary – she feels the same exact way.

To be honest, last year at Christmas and New Years was one of the worst for me that I can remember, from the standpoint of that predictable malaise I always fall into. Jonathan and I were fighting like cats and dogs and my moods were flat-out bipolar in nature. I wondered to myself more than a few times if I was truly going crazy, and I’m sure Jonathan and my parents wondered the same thing. That’s probably why I didn’t believe I was pregnant and just casually chalked the nuclear mood swings up to the typical New Years “blahs.” But sure enough, on January 5th of 2010, I found out exactly what an amazing build up the year would be. And now I’ve experienced the natural (relative) calm that sets in after the amazing chaos and excitement of bringing a new baby into the family. Some people love that, some people hate that, some people don’t know the difference. I’m feeling way better now, though, and I have to say that I’ve handled this Christmas like a champ, in comparison to how I would usually feel.

But it’s so easy to get caught up in the build up.

Now this isn’t really all that relevant to Christmas or the holidays in general (or maybe it is, depending on how much dough you drop on lottery tickets in a given week), but today during my shower (where I do quite a bit of thinking), I realized something. I hear all the time about Vegas this, we’re going to Vegas (“VEGAS, BABY!!”), etc. And I guess it just dawned on me out of nowhere that I really hate it when people gamble. And I’m not talking about gambling with your money. Not even remotely. But I get it, you know? That build up, that excitement, that anticipation. It’s no wonder people keep going back to it over and over. Or that we just become so careless in our lives that we get into this pattern of self-driven tunnel vision, and it’s no longer even about the build up at all.

Frankly, what you do with your money is your business and if it doesn’t mean anything to you then it surely means nothing to me. Though, admittedly, I do find it pretty disgusting when someone is barely scraping by and they spend money on lottery tickets. No, what I’m talking about is gambling when it comes to the important and sacred things in life. In fact, that’s something you’ll find in the Cadet Prayer recited by cadets at the United States Military Academy (West Point), where my father graduated back in the late 70s. One line of the prayer reads “Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life.” You know – kids, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers, trust, hope, families, life itself. Stuff like that. Sacred stuff. And at Christmas, it can either be really easy or really difficult to pass over those things, depending on who you are and where you are in life.

I have no patience or understanding for people who gamble with those things. The mom of four who is so wrapped up in her own life that she comes tearing down the road that runs by my house, hauling ass in her 2-ton SUV, glued to her cellphone, doing 55 mph in what is a very well-posted 30 mph zone where tons and tons of children live. Including me and my child. To that woman, I think you need a REALITY CHECK. The world does not revolve around you, no matter how much it seems that way. There are hundreds of people living along this road and whatever family drama or shopping list you are hashing out at this moment doesn’t matter to me. Don’t gamble with the lives of your passengers or the woman that may be pulling out on Dillard when you come over that hill doing 25 mph over the post speed limit and t-bone her, potentially killing her and her passengers. I could be that woman, you know.

I don’t appreciate the place in life of people who gamble. The teenager who has been repeatedly instructed by lackadaisical parents who refuse to enforce actual punishments when it comes to catching their kid texting on the road. Gamble with your own life if you like, but leave me out of it. That same thing goes for drunks on the road. I don’t really care that you have alcoholism. I’m sorry it’s that way, but if you’re an alcoholic stay home. Call me and I’ll pick you up. Call me and I’ll bring you food. Call me, at 3 o’clock in the morning because you’re drunk again and need someone to talk to, and I’ll gladly listen to you, and no, I won’t judge you. But get in a car and drive, and potentially kill someone? That’s not as easily forgiven. You’re gambling.

Money. How’s that for a sacred thing in life? It’s not. Money is a meaningless currency printed on paper and thrown about to equate for us what we’ve accomplished in this life. If you’re fighting with someone about money this Christmas, you both need a reality check. And yes, I’m talking to the two of you. I love you and you know what is sacred in life. If anyone knows it, it’s you two. For God’s sake, get over it. Swallow those big lumps you call a sense of pride and let’s all move on with life.

I don’t like gambling. I love people who gamble, but I hate that they do that to themselves. Let’s all find the center of our lives this holiday and rediscover the things that really matter.

Acting responsibly when it comes to operating a vehicle and conducting ourselves like we have half an ounce of common sense before we start drinking.

Reassessing relationships and friendships we’re in, and whether they’re really good for us or not. Nurturing the ties that bind and the bonds that hold, and dropping the “dead wood” (Thanks, honey) over the side so that our ships might stay afloat.

Stepping past that stumbling block where our bank account and hearts connect. If you’re warm and fed and your family is healthy, you are experiencing MAGIC right now. Know that, own that, and let’s move on with life.

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