I love the idea of the holidays. The specials on tv, a tree all lit up in a darkened room, reliving memories from my past with my family, the 24/7 Christmas music radio station. It really is delicious. Christmas Eve is my absolute favorite, with the possibility of all this magic so close. My children are feeling the spirit at manaic levels, all the tasks of the season are done, and the house is at its Christmas best. I love sitting on the couch, with only the lights of the Christmas tree lighting up the eyes of my babies, as they snuggle close in brand new pajamas opened right before bed. It is pure magic, I tell you, and I eat it up each year.
The month leading up to Christmas and all it entails is not magical for me. It’s like there is something missing, I see all the things that should mean joy and happiness, yet I can’t see past my to do list and enjoy them. I know I SHOULD be happy and feel joy and all that, except there is something holding me back. Something called STRESS. I don’t know about you, but in my world, and the world of my women friends, the joy of Christmas is built upon our backs. Every single detail, from the most minute details (present labels! postage stamps!), to large (did we order the Prime Rib for dinner? Did I spend too much? Do the kids have the same amount of presents? Will everyone be happy?), are up to me.
Let me see if I can explain this better.
The Christmas season for me is: teacher presents (three to be exact, all appropriately wrapped and well thought out); gifts for my children (five each, and stocking stuffers, wrapped and hidden really well); presents for all of my extended family, AND my husband’s extended family (wrapped and shipped just in time); wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, gift bags, labels, etc., purchased (and repurchased when you run out right before the last gift…grrrrr); cookie baking organized so the kids can have a great holiday experience, and also a gingerbread house expedition, Polar Express train ride, movie tickets bought in advance for the Polar Express movie showing on Christmas Eve, and every other event that needs to be planned and booked in advance); all holiday party and events scheduled in and planned; classroom party supplies bought (including those surprise 12 dozen cookies you forget to make and have to purchase last minute); all meals planned, shopped for, prepared (including special Christmas Day pancakes with red and green sprinkles, every detail for the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes, and the Christmas Day Prime Rib dinner); special pajamas and an ornament for the kids to open on Christmas Eve; and the house perfectly decorated, (yet kept clean and clutter free for house guests.)
Should I go on? There’s more, I promise you, my mind is just too full to think anymore. I think what makes the holiday season so magical and wonderful for everyone else are in the details that bring everything together, but the details that bring the magic are mainly orchestrated by myself, and the women around me. It’s simultaneously the best and worst time of the year for stress and crazily packed schedules for us all, and it falls primarily on my shoulders.
I know I’m not alone, and this fact does make me feel a teensy bit better. See, I thought I was weird, a little bah humbug and Scrooge-like. It seems selfish to complain, and certain husbands out there (cough, cough,) would say to do less, don’t worry so much. (Ha!) YET, if I don’t worry and stress and plan each detail out, who will? Christmas doesn’t just happen, it is built, piece by piece, by the women in your life. I sometimes envy my children (and husband, if I’m honest), who get to experience only the best part of this time of year and not have any of the worry. That sounds selfish, I know.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go grab a glass of wine and work on some deep breathing skills. And try to remember that the little moments, when my kids see how wonderful this season really is, is totally worth it. And luckily, I’ll have another 365-ish days to plan for NEXT Christmas;)