This post is about Christmas. If this offends you, I can’t help you…it said it IN the title.
This time of year…it’s full of joy. Joy and insanity. One of my friends says, “Ah-the holidays. That time of year when nobody gets their way.” She gets it. It feels like there are a thousand extra things to do and the goal is to bring yourself to the brink of lunacy emotionally, financially, spiritually, mentally and physically. There are demands on how to execute the holidays, where they should be held, who should be included, who should be excluded, when it should be done, what should be served, appropriate gifts to be given, events to attend, and what type of cheerful elf-inspired mood we should all be in. Except many of us aren’t.
Well I’m not doing everything this year and I’m typically crazy for Christmas. I’m in love with Christmas but sometimes I’m giving way more in this relationship than I am getting. (Don’t email me people: I know Jesus is the reason for the season) What I mean is-I can end up missing the whole thing in my efforts to do it all. I’m learning my lessons from the ghosts of Christmas past.
One year I cried (while drinking a Manhattan) while I assembled a wretched Playmobil Zoo until 2:00am so that my son would be overcome with Christmas cheer and fall down bawling with surprise and feverish gratitude and love for his mother. The next morning when I waited for his delight, he strolled by and patted the tiny miniature seal and then sat on the floor to eat Hershey kisses for 2 hours.
One year I wore myself down so much, I got the stomach flu the day after Christmas and was confined to my room for 4 days and watched the kids ice skate from my sick bed.
There was the year Jack tripped and gave himself a seriously black eye Christmas Eve morning. While serving food, I rotated bags of peas on his face.
There was the year Isabelle had strep and we were at the clinic on Christmas Eve.
The year(s) people said they would show up and they didn’t and also a year they showed up when they said they weren’t going to. Yeah.
The years I’m pinned in the kitchen and can’t even see what people are opening after spending hours upon hours searching, purchasing, hiding, and wrapping.
So here is what I am not doing this year:
I’m not over-decorating. I’m not going to put up every single blasted thing I have collected for Christmas. It’s too much. I have my things, things I’ve inherited, things I’ve been gifted, heirlooms, things the kids have made. Things I can’t get rid of for a variety of reasons. If I display everything it looks like Christmas puked and it makes me go pattern blind for it is WAY too much to look at and WAY too much to put away. See favorite decoration below. I smile every time I see it.
I’m not letting the kids help me with everything. I know. Bad Mommy. I don’t care. I want to put things where I want them. I want to handle some of them gingerly so that they remain in one piece. Last year an ornament was broken that had been in my family for 40 years because it was tossed like a baseball.
Also-please don’t help me with all the baking. No help necessary. I like to bake for the holidays and I love to have the kids help me with some of the baking. We usually make a gingerbread house. It’s so fun and almost always involves a glue gun and a long discussion about the merits of cedar shake shingles (cinnamon toast crunch). But I really don’t want their help with all of it. I get distracted and then things aren’t right and don’t turn out and taste like crap AND I really don’t need help from one certain helper elf that occasionally LICKS his hands. Gross. Nobody needs saliva in their baked goods. He can busy himself opening and shutting the 25 doors on the advent calendar. And he does. It’s like a cardio workout the way he handles that thing.
I’m not going to fixate on loved ones that aren’t here. Now-touchy subject. This is one of many, many reasons that this time of year throws people into a complete tailspin. Too many reminders. So much grief. The empty spot at the table. All of these loved ones will be on my mind. I will miss them. But this year I’m not going to obsess to the point that I miss out on all the people that are here including myself. I’m going to focus on this year and this experience and this time that I have and try to not let it slip by as I rush through to January. It doesn’t serve anyone else well in my family if I curl up in the fetal position under the tree.
I’m not spending weeks dealing with the holiday card. For real. I usually do. I can’t even explain it. But this time I had to let a few things go. We had a lot of nice photos taken, I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like but concessions were made. Actually, here is what happened this year. I’m just going to say it out loud. There is a penis on my Christmas card. Yep. A penis. Nothing says “celebrating the birth of Christ” like full frontal nudity. Jesus was nude in the manger right?
Ok-it’s the dog. But still.
I’m not going to see the Nutcracker Fantasy. I LOVE the Nutcracker. (maybe I should not have had this paragraph immediately following the penis one) Anyway, it’s as big a part of my holiday memories as anything else but this year I’m going to skip it. I just have to. I went last year to the big anniversary hullaballoo but trying to cram it in this year doesn’t look likely and I’ve nearly made my peace with it.
I’m not going to make up Christmasy excuses that I’m too busy to fit in a few things that I really want to do. I really wanted to host a holiday breakfast for a few friends. NO.BIG.DEAL. I have 35 people on Christmas Day so 8 women is practically a vacation. Except it is one more thing to do and one more thing to ask of them just to show up. But I am going to make it happen and not talk myself out of spending 2 little hours with people I really enjoy. I also had a few things that I wanted to make myself to give as gifts. I’m not going to let myself pretend that it cannot possibly get done. I’m going to carve out a little time and have some fun making my funny homemade gifts. (I’ve already said too much. :))
I’m not going to cut down our Christmas tree this year. We have gone for years now to cut down the tree together as a family. We ride on the wagon, trudge through the snow, bring the saw, I take dozens of photos. (below) Here is the thing though…If I wait for the perfect 6 hour window…the tree will be here January 5th. So we are going to the tree lot. 20 minutes. Easy peasy. We still will all be together. We will have a place to hang the ornaments.
I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t find the perfect thing for every person. I know there is a lot of “remember the reason for the season” platitudes. It’s not about the gifts. But to me, the giving has always been central to the very spirit of Christmas. It is a symbol of the celebration and the care in which I choose gifts has always been important to me. It should not be careless. I like people to feel well loved. I show love through thoughtfulness. But I’m cutting myself 3% slack this year. Sometimes the exact thing I’ve conjured up simply does not exist. I will have to give a few people an extra hug.
Oh- And I’m not going to get sick. Do you hear me God??? I am NOT going to get sick.
I don’t want to miss the forest for the tree. (hee hee) The truth is that there is a pressure to keep up ALL the traditions. And then the family gets larger and there is more to keep up. And then everyone has their own set of expectations and it grows to a level that would drive even the most grounded person to run and drown themselves in the punch bowl. And really, every year is different. Every single year. The decorations, the traditions, the events, the people gathered around the table are a changing cast of characters each time.
And that is ok.
So Santa, if you are reading this: This Is All I Don’t Want For Christmas