The Meaning of Christmas *EOTWP*

25 December

Week 47
This time last year, I sat in a house full of immediate family members who all finally knew what was going on with me (minus my nephew and niece, Beau and Ally.) Though none of them truly knew the extent of the forthcoming events, there was fear and discontent in the eyes of each and every single one of them as they danced their line of sight in my direction. Direct eye contact was horrid. I could feel the uneasiness and disaffection upon locking eyes. I even snapped at my sister's now ex-husband at one point because of my own internal frustration.
2013 Christmas at my sister's house. My dad received a gun. :/
I didn't take any photos of last year's Christmas because of all the animosity
that had developed. I was very sad at the time.
I was miserable. But I could see the figurative light shining at the end of the tunnel. My hope was arriving — albeit slowly. I was on my way.

So, here we are one year later, fully arrived amidst Christmas week. 100 percent engulfed in my transitional process, surrounded by new friends and family that love me unconditionally, and I even have a cute boy to celebrate the festive spirit with as well. It's crazy. I would have never thought I'd ever reach this point. It's wonderful.

On Monday, the week started off poorly, however. Work presented me with a deluge of uninteresting toil and drudgery as I worked an overnight shift from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Ugh. I even got yelled at. That was loads of fun. Have I said how much I despise Old Navy yet? :/ Anyhow, when 5 a.m. rolled around, I put on my figurative dash boots and got out of there as quickly as I could.

That same morning, we left around 10 a.m. for Hot Springs Village, where Ruth's grandparents call home. I love going over there. They're super sweet, adorable people, and I'm totally claiming them as my own grandparents, too. But yes, we had an early Christmas at their house. And it was utterly grand. I enjoy talking to them, and watching Ruth mix in with her own family brings immense joy to my heart. <3
Ruth gave me this lovely engraved ring for Christmas.
I love it SO much. <3
Seeing all of that unfold before my eyes on Tuesday made me question the reasoning behind this holiday. What is the meaning of Christmas after all?

No, it's definitely not the culmination of Pagan traditions all wrapped up in a tidy, little Christian gift basket meant to celebrate the birth of some impossibly procreated child. No no, Christmas, as a western culture-developed holiday means so much more than that. It's about family and friends, showcasing love and endearing affection to those close to you and around you, good food and happiness spent with those you love, and watching the eyes light up of children all over the world as they witness the cheer and festive wonders of the Christmas season. Obviously, this holds true for the other like-minded holidays that take place during this season as well. And that makes my heart swell all over.

Christmas is about love. It's about displaying love. It's about spreading love to all. It's about good times, laughs, full bellies, presents, and wonder. As an atheist and humanist, this holiday season creates so much delight and elation within me. And that's because love is the key; it's the primary focus that all should encapsulate within their hearts and minds. It's something that shouldn't come only one day out of the year, but instead, every day, all year long. It should never end.
Yummy chocolate pie that Ruth's grandmother created. OMG. Yes yes yes.
Wednesday had arrived. I was slightly nervous that morning, as I knew that I would be meeting the cute boy's mother for lunch. I suppose we've arrived at that point now, too. I really do like this guy a lot. He's sweet to me. Sneaky sweet, I guess. :P I don't know how he does it, or even why, but I really adore that he is so respectful and kind toward me. And his mother is all the same, too. I loved getting to meet her (and his brother, too!), and listening to her stories of the cute boy's upbringing was all kinds of grand. I definitely hope I can talk with her again in person some day soon. I enjoyed her presence. :)

So, that brings us to Christmas Eve. I had to work an early shipment day shift, but I was off by 10 a.m. Ruth, however, had to work longer hours yesterday; she didn't clock out for Christmas until 6 that evening. But afterwards, Ruth, Phillip, and I met up with Sarah (one of Ruth's really good friends) to go have a sort of Christmas Eve dinner at Casa Mañana up the hill from our apartment. I had never eaten there before, but oh goodness...the food was soooooooo good! And the strawberry margaritas were as well!  <3 After dinner, we came back to the apartment for more drinks and a game of Cards Against Humanity. It was a great time all around. And drunk Anna is still fun. :P
What you're not seeing in this photo is the huge grin that's about
to develop while I'm texting the cute boy. :)
And so here we are today...Christmas has arrived. One year ago, it didn't feel like Christmas at all. But this entire week (minus the workday on Monday) has been one of the best weeks of my entire life. From visiting with Ruth's grandparents, meeting part of the cute boy's immediate family for a wonderful lunch get-together, and to partying with Ruth, Phillip, and Sarah here in Little Rock in a festive fashion, it's been a complete maelstrom of happy emotions. Yes, it makes me remember all the bad from last year, but it overshadows it. And that's good — definitely good. We're even going over to Phillip's mother's house for a yummy Christmas dinner later today. THERE WILL BE HAM. LOTS of it. Yay, indeed.

So, with that said, good tidings and cheer to all. Happy holidays, you lot. ^_^ (Be good!)

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