This year it hasn’t felt much like Christmas around here.
We just got a couple of small trees put up. We haven’t put a single light or wreath in front of our house. There is no Santa collection meticulously displayed, no present waiting for our mail carrier, no time to ring the bell for Salvation Army. The advent calendar is sitting in a heap in the upstairs office chair. I’ve only bought 1 stocking stuffer (socks for Joe) and ZERO, that’s right, ZERO real gifts. We haven’t watched any Christmas movies (unless you count Joe and I “watching” Christmas Vacation while he was sick and I watched through my eyelids). We haven’t put a puzzle together, made cookies, drank eggnog, gone caroling, looked at lights, or gone to any Christmas parties. NOTHING.
This sad stressed out season is a culmination of many of things:
- Starting a business at a terribly busy time.
- Having a perpetually involved teenager who doesn’t drive yet.
- Throwing away our old living room Christmas tree, and not having time to replace it.
- The short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- The transmission going out on the car we bought this summer, the dealership run around and taking 2 weeks and counting to get it fixed.
- Having too many projects and commitments.
- Our house being a shambles still from remodeling, E-baying and starting The Peppered Peony.
- Every home maintenance project taking 20 times longer than it should.
- Being so disappointed that people started shopping on Thanksgiving.
- Dreading our Thanksgiving plans because 4 days of non stop driving for 2 days with John’s parents sounded just awful especially since I suspect his mother wasn’t really looking forward to us coming, and then the ensuing guilt because I was so selfishly relieved when those plans were canceled knowing how badly he wanted to spend time with his elderly father and how disappointed his dad was we weren’t coming.
- Then there was the whole fallout over whether or not we should switch our Christmas plans from my family to his. For the record, we stuck with mine, but no matter which way we went we were going to feel guilty.
- Hearing several people we really care about are getting divorce, separating or struggling with illness.
- Trying to be extra frugal while waiting for the airlines to call.
- Just feeling overwrought, overextended and under-enthused.
The general mood around here is instead kinda Scrooge-ish:
- Groundings over grades or the dreaded “L” word (lying for those of you with sweet babies under 10 who “would never”…).
- Fights over “Stop rolling your eyes at me!” “I wasn’t. Stop thinking everything anyone ever does is trying to offend you.” “Stop all the sighing with haughty derision! I’m not an idiot!” (I wish I could say these were comments our immature teens were spouting off, but that would be the dreaded “L” word.)
- Lamenting over weight while we test another batch of brownies, and then feeling guilt upon guilt.
- Everyone getting in everyone else’s business to tell them how they are doing it wrong.
- Grousing about pains in the knees, pains in my hands and feet, pains in the back and actual, not just metaphorical, pains in the neck only made worse by this early onset of arctic weather misery.
- Just being too tired to do anything and then more guilt upon guilt. (At this point I end up with insomnia as anyone who’s played Words with Friends with me knows from my 4 a.m. plays).
The one time we listened to Christmas carols while baking brownies John got crabby because they were too loud, and I got frustrated because he played the wrong ones. That is just plain sad, people. Sad.
I feel the brunt of the guilt over this disappointing holiday though because my family has always depended on me to set the mood, be on top of things and get the holiday plans in motion, and I have just been too busy and overwhelmed for that. This is a family who has come to expect rotating trees that coordinate with each room, gifts wrapped to coordinate with specific trees, menus planned and replanned for special guests. They liked it. I liked it, and enjoyed the whole process of doing it, but just can’t get there this year. In the past I think I’ve made it look way too easy by doing so much of it behind the scenes so that now that I’m not doing it no one knows where to start.
***Tonight, that is all changing***
Tonight I’m putting my foot down.
I am not putting anything new on our calendar before Christmas unless it’s fun, and makes us happy.
Tonight we will eat breakfast for dinner while we watch Elf. We will drink eggnog and start putting together one of those ornament or Santa puzzles we’ve done like 20 times. I will read a Christmas book with my kids before they go to bed, and we will hug and snuggle and laugh.
There will be no homework after piano lessons even if they get a zero tomorrow. There will be no work on any business, updating of airline apps, talk of money, or schedules or that dumb car.
Tonight we choose happiness and family because ultimately it is exactly that, a choice.
Tonight I am taking back my Christmas no matter what any of the rest of them have to say or how the world tries to barge in because it is, I repeat, a choice, and I’m tired of those other choices. I can see from how my family is getting along they are tired of those choices too. Tomorrow we can go back to rushing and schedules, but tonight and the 2 other “white square” nights we have on our calendar before Christmas, we are going to choose to celebrate and be happy with each other.
Am I the only one here who feels like this holiday is off kilter somehow? I doubt it.
If you feel that way too, I hope you remember you get to choose happiness. You decide what’s important, money, the calendar and others expectations or finding the corner piece of the puzzle, endlessly repeating lines from Elf and The Grinch or belting out carols while you and your family sit in your car outside someone else’s house like stalkers marveling at their lights and blow up Santas.
“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you`ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut