Christmas Stress

Well, I debated about posting this, thinking that it might be better to maintain my image of having my act together, but decided to go for reality. If you read here long enough, I am sure you will realize that I am anything but together.

I love the Christmas season. I really do. But for the past 4 years, it has been mostly a matter of survival for me. Four years ago, I had the worst Christmas season…I wore myself ragged, staying up late, trying to do I don't know what. I wound up getting depressed and taking a lot of it out on Jeff and the kids. It was not a happy time and I never want to go there again. Jeff called me on it and I luckily got help (more on how in future posts). Since then, my goal has been to survive the holidays without becoming a raging lunatic.

Each year has gotten a bit better. I have scaled back on my expectations and this year I hit the turning point…I found myself surviving fairly well and wanting to start thinking about how to actually enjoy the season. I have also started thinking about why we try to cram all this wonderful stuff into a short period of time…why don't I send out more pictures of the boys to family during the rest of the year? Why don't I write more letters during the rest of the year (actually I guess that I kind of use this blog to accomplish the same thing - letting folks know what is going on with us). Why don't I try to get together with friends more during the rest of the year? Why don't I do more baking during the rest of the year? Why don't I have the boys send more of their creations to family during the rest of the year?

I was talking with a friend who said that part of it is that doing it all at this time of the year makes it more special. Maybe. But I am thinking that what our family needs is to try to have more special times throughout the year which might take some of the pressure off of Christmas and allow us to have more space to focus on what makes the season special for us. I am not talking big things…I read about one family that made DIY ice cream sundaes every full moon. Little things that are meaningful and special, but not draining. Then maybe it would not put so much pressure on Christmas. I think I need to think about this a bit….

Some things that I learned this year:

  • It is OK to not put out all the Christmas decorations. I usually go all out…decorations all over the house. This year I put out two boxes worth and meant to get the rest out the next day, but it never happened! And I still think the place looks great. My snowmen are up in the family room, the advent calendar, the boys stockings, the Christmas tree, the door hangings on the boys doors, my Santa from when I was little, the wreath on the front door, the icicle lights. The neat thing is that usually by now I am feeling very claustrophobic with all the decorations out…but this year I am still enjoying them! I also usually dread the time putting them out and putting them away, but this year it only took a couple of hours during which the boys and I really enjoyed rediscovering our favorites.
  • It is OK to not get the Christmas cards out until after Christmas. I have been enjoying writing our family letter so much more since I took the pressure off myself to get them out.
  • If the computer program you use to make the Family Calendars is not working because you have a new computer it is OK to give IOUs and finish up later instead of staying up until 2am in the morning cursing the printer.
  • There is no need to stress over the presents you are giving. Everyone appreciates the thought.
  • Wrapping presents goes much faster and enjoyable if you get to watch your new Pride and Prejudice DVD while your husband entertains the kids.
  • It is much better to wrap presents before Christmas eve. We actually had a wonderful relaxing evening.

Well, I am sure that there is more, but I have to go get my Christmas cards out….


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