Thursday, December 18, 2014

If I was in charge. REALLY in charge.

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:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #11: Describe how you would celebrate the holidays
if it was totally up to you and money was not a factor.


20 comments:

  1. Your words, every one of your thoughts, well...they are where I am at this very moment, where I find myself year after year during this season.

    Sure, I always have a detailed plan-of-action written out. Notes upon notes tucked everywhere. Each year, I promise myself to start earlier so that I can savor the moments instead of rushing through them at a frantic pace. It all looks wonderful, on paper.

    Here we are, one week before Christmas, and it's not pretty. Family coming from Florida, threats of weather-related flight delays, gifts yet to buy and we won't talk about the food shopping I have yet to do.

    Oh, and my two grandsons from Florida made me promise to have snow and Noodle Pudding when they arrive. Talk about pressure!

    Thank you for making me feel so not alone. Have a wonderful Christmas, in spite of all the madness!

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    1. You are most definitely not alone. We have the same approach to and experience of Christmas, it seems. I do enjoy it, until it starts snowballing, of course. My limits are reached and then surpassed every year, which is the source of my stress. My husband says that I am the source of my stress, which is also true but not helpful. ;) Happy Holidays, it's the most wonderful time of the year!

      When it ends.

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  2. This truly made me laugh. All of it, but especially this.

    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!” - See more at: http://www.about100percent.com/2014/12/if-i-was-in-charge-really-in-charge.

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    1. It's all very well-meaning, isn't it? Little do many people know that these last-minute "celebrations" only add to the stress for me. For some people, more is always better. For me, it's heaped on top of the pile I am already trying to handle. I have yet to find the trick of just absorbing it all.

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  3. I used to be one of those who had all of the shopping done before Thanksgiving and the cards out by the first of December. That was back when the kids were easy to buy for and easy to get into one place at the same time for a picture. As for this year, I just finished my shopping yesterday and I am foregoing the cards.
    Merry Christmas to you, my friend. Wishing you peace and time to breathe.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon. It was easier when they were little, wasn't it? Even though back then I would have never thought so. Thanks for the well-wishes. I hope you have a Merry Christmas, too.

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  4. My hear was racing as I read this - and it only just calmed down form my own Christmas panic yesterday! I get it! I get it! But I don't know the answer. We are blessed with too many blessings, I guess.

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    1. That's it, isn't it? Too many blessings. Maybe that's why I get the blank stare from my family when I try to share how hard this time of year is for me. They feel blessed, while I feel like I'm drowning in them.

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  5. Take heart.... it's your time in life to be busy! Easier said than done, but this time does pass all too quickly. It seems like yesterday I was a young busy mother with so much to do and not enough time, but my "empty nest" did come. I can think back on those days and see it differently than when I was in it at the time. They are hectic, but good memories. Hopefully, you can take a few minutes every night, when everyone has gone to bed, and sit in front of the Christmas tree, lights twinkling, and listen with your heart... listen for the music in your soul, think on the blessings of the day, and rejuvenate your spirit. And, maybe before next year starts, sit down and make a list of all the things required and said "yes" to this year, and whittle the list down so it is manageable for next year. There is nothing wrong with saying "no". Simplifying is really worth it.

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    1. Carol, I read your response with tears in my eyes. You are right. I am so thankful for mothers who have "been there" that take the time to reach out, encourage, and lift up those who are in here, to share your experiences. Please know that your words mean so much to me. Thank you. xo

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  6. Yes! If only everyone would simplify!

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    1. It's really the stores that start it all. The gift-giving. So. Many. Sales.

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  7. I know that one day, you will be able to simplify because you'll be driving to the
    your kids homes for their circus's. :)

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    1. Ha! You have no idea how true your statement is. Both sets of our parents have been driving to our house for most Christmases for the past fifteen years.

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  8. This is something I struggle with every year. My son is young, and our little nuclear family is trying to focus on simplifying gifts and giving experiences, not stuff. But it doesn't really translate to the rest of the family. It can be very frustrating. Hang in there, and carve out moments of calm for yourself!

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    1. Thank you! It is the hardest part, I think - getting everyone else on board! When I say "simplify" I think everyone else hears "stingy." Happy Holidays!

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  9. Here's to a simpler Christmas next year. I agree with you that this holiday goes completely bezerk with the plans and the shopping and the gifts...I would love to tone it down a notch!

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    1. Or ten. Every year I say "Next year will be different!!" and it goes up ten notches.

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  10. Happy New Year ~ keep working at toning it down, and talking about toning it down - someone just may hear and give it a shot, perhaps not your family, but maybe others and then others and ... I am really trying to suggest that my grown children with children simplify a bit. On my end, I just mailed out cards today and the greeting read: 'on the seventh day of Christmas..."

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    1. I love that! And you are right about talking about toning it down... I've been saying it for years, and I think I might just have my husband on board. Now for the others. ;)

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