The holidays have been a difficult time for me for several years. The music, the food, even the decorations were triggers for sad and traumatic moments in my life. Instead of the joy and happiness those things are supposed to elicit, they brought about grief and fear. Rather than feelings of togetherness and belonging, they brought flashbacks to rejection, abandonment, and the abusive religious teachings that governed and crippled me for so many years.
But not this year.
In the last twelve months I have worked through a great many things, pressing through triggers and flashbacks, nightmares and illnesses, rebuilding peace, courage, and strength back into my heart.
I could see the difference in my relationships, my work, my health, but it wasn’t until the holidays rolled around that I saw how the bad things in my past had lost their power. I wasn’t afraid anymore, wasn’t sad, and I could sit quietly with the bad memories instead of reacting to them. I could rest in gratitude for how much real love is in my life now.
I find it hard to express how much this means to me. For a long time it felt like the happiness of the holiday season would never be part of my life again. I’d resigned myself to just getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of truly enjoying them.
I never thought I’d be in the place I am now, belting out Christmas carols with a free heart. They are happy songs for me now, not triggers from a time when I was worthless and didn’t matter. I actually want to decorate now, want to buy and wrap Christmas pressies, want to put up a tree. I was even able to go into a Church for a Christmas market without panic attacks or feeling like something awful was going to happen to me. I went in with courage knowing I am safe and loved, and had a truly lovely time without any of the fear and shame I’ve grown to associate with such places.
So this birthday/Thanksgiving weekend was very special to me, to both Bear and I. And we made the most of it.
I planned a big feast for us and had so much fun baking and cooking up a storm in the kitchen while Bear worked on medieval projects at the table and the rain pelted down.
I roasted a bacon-wrapped turkey breast filled with cranberry sage stuffing that smelled utterly heavenly as it was cooking.
I sliced apples and fried them up with butter and cinnamon and raisins to make Bear his favorite apple raisin pie.
I gave it a Thanksgiving-y twist with a toasted almond oat topping that was so nice with the buttery apples.
Thanksgiving just isn’t right for me without Canadian butter tarts, so I hauled out flour and butter for homemade pastry.
As much as I love traditional butter tarts which are filled with raisins, cranberry butter tarts are my favorite. Their tartness offsets the sweet syrup so beautifully.
Before and after the feasting we relaxed our hearts out. We went to the movies and out for lunch, slept in and ate leftovers, read and napped and chatted, did crafty projects, watched Elementary episodes, and toasted life with cold glasses of champagne.
We loved it, our first Australian Thanksgiving.
Wishing you healing, love, and truly happy holidays. xo