Unlike Stormy, I do let the holidays get to me a bit. “A bit” may an understatement. As the holidays rolled in, I was reminded not to have another green bean episode this year. An episode that spiraled when, after careful planning to avoid the holiday grocery lines on Dec 23, I came home to my family eating the green beans needed for a dish I was bringing on Christmas Eve. Yes, it sounds crazy that I lost it over green beans. But really, when have they ever chosen to eat green beans?! Plus, it was perfectly timed for when I needed somewhere to let my tension explode. I had found my target. Hence, the green bean episode.
This holiday season started like all others. Around September, my mind starts thinking about the holidays. I start keeping my eye out for the perfect gifts. This year, the Centennial Lakes Art Fair that I attended with Stormy was the place I purchased my favorite gift during one of our needed friend-therapy sessions. (We both are great multi-taskers.) As the months go by and not all gifts are as perfectly stumbled upon, I start to feel the tension building.
Being self-aware and remembering my past holiday stress tantrums, I have tried to do a couple of things to avoid becoming a Christmas freak show.
My first step was to stop sending holiday cards. It was always pushed to the end of my list. I never had my contacts organized, so I always ended up addressing my cards late at night with a pile of envelope scraps (from past senders) with no joy involved. Plus, when I did do cards, I had the self-created pressure that as marketing professional I was expected to have a really cool card. Enough years later, I am completely comfortable with the fact that anything I do at work is not something I enjoy doing in my leisure time. Everyone else can enjoy those fun, creative projects.
With that said, I love getting holiday cards. So thank you to those who still send me one without getting one in return! Every year, I think that is going back on the list next year. Just in a more efficient way.
I have also added a shopping weekend with my girlfriend to alleviate some of the stress. The sell of this weekend to our husbands is we agree to do all of the shopping and organizing if we can get away for a kid-free, responsibility-free weekend. A shopping staycation.
Online shopping has greatly improved the quality of this weekend.
Usually I am calm and feeling organized up until this point, the week leading up to Christmas Day. I wrap presents each night as I count down. As long as nothing tumbles, I think I am stress-free. The problem is something always tumbles. Or possibly, I just don’t acknowledge the building stress ’til this final countdown. If I am being honest, the wrong look at a present I chose, a missing ingredient, or the tape running out as I wrap presents could each set me off.
This year though, Stormy’s blog came at just the right time. I read it as I was wrapping presents and looking ahead to some time off. The Holiday Break division of labor. Each of us taking a week off to cover for the kids at home. My shift was pre-holidays, including the extra Friday the school threw in in addition to the other two weeks off! I decided to heed Stormy’s advice and cancel the list of pre-Christmas plans I had made to make the most of my time off.
Instead, I spent four days in my pajamas. I wrapped presents watching The Vampire Diaries in the middle of the day while my kids played too many electronics. None of us had rules. It is the most relaxed I have been. My daughter brushed my hair while I had a glass of wine and played on the iPad, telling me she’d miss me when I had to work again. My 10-year old son let me tuck him in and show him how I used to stroke his face as a baby until he fell asleep. I actually enjoyed doing a lot of nothing and was rewarded for it. The only thing I did was load the dishwasher quickly before my husband got home each night to prove a long-term point.
Well, I made it through without an episode! I keep surprising myself by discovering all of the things a person can make it through, especially with the advice and support of friends.
So to all my wonderful girlfriends: Thank you. Thank you all for getting me through the year and filling it with not only support but fun and laughter. Those who reached out when I haven’t talked to them forever, but wanted me to know they were there; to my walking partner who has been a perfectly timed gift and will be my friend even when not in need; my amazing “mom” friends who make me feel sane and have become my own friends with or without kid connections; my amazing sisters; and my few soul mates–you know who you are.
I can’t wait to see what next year brings us all.