Gee… just when I was feeling proud of myself for getting the Halloween decorations put away by Nov. 15… the jingling, snowflake-filled ads on TV are reminding me that in less than two weeks, it’s time to get out the Christmas decorations…but first I have to clear the birthday cards off the fireplace mantle in order to make room for the patchwork sitting turkey and vintage pilgrim candles…and the next round of birthday cards. See, in our house, the “holiday season” starts with Halloween and doesn’t stop until New Year’s Day, with all four of our birthdays thrown in there in between, in addition to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Add in all the school programs, music recitals, class parties, and holiday parties for every other organization of which somebody’s a member, and it’s truly a nonstop celebration of fun! You don’t believe me? Seriously, this can be fun—I mean, who wouldn’t love celebrating four birthdays and four holidays in only 8 weeks? C’mon, now,… don’t everyone raise their hands so fast…okay, it is often a major pain in the a##. It can make for some major stress. And of course, the domestic engineer in me is always trying to come up with creative ways to make it less stressful. I collect holiday “teacher gifts” throughout the year and start collecting frozen casseroles and pies in the freezer a couple months in advance, in case I need to take something to a holiday gathering; I shop online as much as possible and sometimes send my Christmas cards electronically. I started a gift exchange for extended family, where we draw names, to cut down on Christmas shopping. And, I only have to plan one child’s birthday party each year. (They take turns–child A gets a birthday party one year, and child E gets a party the next year, and so on. During the off year, the “no party” child gets taken out to a nice birthday dinner, and gets to invite one friend. This has worked out quite well, by the way, for all involved!)
But in spite of all my ideas and “solutions”, things just seem to get worse. Last year I found myself crying in my car in the overcrowded mall parking lot, completely overwhelmed a week before Christmas. A time of year I had once adored had become a Bah-Humbug experience. And unfortunately, Charlie Brown’s friends did not suddenly surround my car and start singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”…no Clarence the Angel or Ghosts of Christmas Past magically appeared in the passenger’s seat to straighten things out, either…
The jingly ads this year tell me if I just use this turkey recipe or shop this sale I’ll have the perfect holiday. But what exactly is the perfect holiday? I proposed, to my kids, that maybe it’s giving up all our gifts and giving the money to charity instead. That did not go over too well. How about getting out of town as soon as possible and spending time on a beach or ski slope? They didn’t like that, either. After much thought, I’ve decided that, for me, a perfect holiday would be, being able to savor the traditions I most enjoy, whether it’s making Chex Party Mix, giving to others, playing games with family or sitting in church on Christmas Eve, and pushing all the stuff that I don’t enjoy out of the way as soon as possible, or eliminating it all together.
Guess that means I’d better head to the mall—RIGHT NOW! ###