It’s no secret around here that Christmas stresses me out.
Immediately after Halloween, it starts. Emails touting “HUGE SALE!” flood my inbox. Coupons stream into the mail, store signs and billboards boast lowest prices of the year, the century, the universe. It’s hard to ignore. People crow that they’ve had all their shopping done since September because they’ve learned that when they wait until November to buy, they spend twice as much and they don’t even get anything they wanted. I stare at them, wide-eyed. My children wait until mid-December to talk about the things they want, want, want. So does my husband.
Around November 2 family members and friends start discussing how we will spend the holidays together. Party invitations go out. The dates must be nailed down, NOW. All the activities the kids are into this year have big, big, BIG EVENTS on those exact dates. Activities call for ramped-up practices for these Big Events. Everything is twice as intense, twice as much, twice as everything. I am running kids to school at 7 am and picking them up from practice at 9 pm. They miss half of everything they are involved in because all of these things happen at the same time.
My views are unpopular here. My husband doesn’t understand the angst with which I associate Christmas. He doesn’t like that I seriously consider not doing everything. He wants to do everything.
People say “Just say No! You don’t have to do everything! Christmas is a time for Joy! And Peace! And Love! Come to my cookie exchange and relax! Bring six dozen cookies!”
The problem with saying no is that I’ve already said yes to all of it. The activities are already in the works. I can’t sign my kids up for stuff and then say “We take all of November and December off because I just can’t even.” We have family and friends whom we love and want to spend time with. We can’t just NOT celebrate Christmas the way that it’s expected to be celebrated. It’s only me that feels burdened at Christmas. The more cavalier part of me says “You can do whatever you want to do! Don’t give into the pressure – do what makes you happy!”
I know this is ridiculous. If I had it my way, everyone would be miserable.
What I want is for everything to just calm down. Simplify. Tone down down the Specialness of the season. It’s already special; I buck against the circus of it. I want to get together with family and friends and not miss the hundred other things that are scheduled for those dates. I want to give thoughtfully and meaningfully without feeling as if someone might be missing something if they don’t have five (Ten? Twenty?) amazing things to open on Christmas morning.
It’s a big suggestion, to simplify Christmas. I know for a fact that it doesn’t go over well in our house. I’ve tried. It's impossible for one person to convince the others that another plan is better without concrete facts and figures. Christmas is a sacred time, protected by custom and culture. People don't like new ideas at a time steeped in tradition.
So instead, I hunker down every year and manage it. I sit and stare at our beautiful Christmas tree and for a moment feel at peace in the loveliness of the season. But only for a moment. Because I have to run someone to practice again. And is that another package on the porch?
This post inspired by:
if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.