We're on break.
It's a break from school, a break from work, a break from having to be up at a certain hour so you can pack your lunch WHY HAVEN'T YOU PACKED YOUR LUNCH THE BUS WILL SOON BE HERE.
For me, it's not much of a break. My break is full of things to do: all the normal things and then some.
I still get up early, still manage other people's lives. Still shop for food, do laundry, pay the bills, prepare meals, sort through the mail, keep my eye on the calendar, clean the house.
Normal things have been put off or re-prioritized to make room for holiday activities. In the past month I've gift-shopped, gift-wrapped, planned meals, attended holiday functions, and made arrangements for two different families to visit two separate times for two nights at a time. I hope this year I haven't forgotten anything like in years past when I overlooked crucial things that were not unnoticed. I’m sure no one will notice that there’s a fresh layer of dust on all of our Christmas decorations, adding to previous years’ dust when that same chore goes undone. I hope there’s enough toilet paper this year.
It's not a sad story. It's a joyful one. So many people don't have what I have. But it causes me strain and stress. The guilt I feel for complaining about my blessings only adds to the weight.
I feel it in my tightening chest, the worry about money spent, the conflict over loving the holidays and wishing they were over already. And it shows. It shows in my snippy attitude, my loss of patience, the lines in my forehead that never really smooth out.
But what also shows is the joy in the faces of my children, the smiles of loved ones that greet me when I open the door. It's my husband being around to carry the weight of the chores that never end. Our relatives bringing food and telling stories and watching movies and playing video games in our living room. It's talking and hanging out in sweats and drinking coffee until the jitters set in. It’s ripping open packages and stuffing garbage bags full of Christmas wrapping. It’s saying thank you and eating too much and being grateful for time spent together.
It’s realizing that I am loved and despite the madness and the sour feelings, that I am part of something bigger than me.
It’s realizing that it’s just a break.
And that this break is good.