I always tell myself that I love this time of year. The Christmas spirit fills me to the brim and I get caught up in the pleasure of spreading good tidings of great joy and watching the delight on my children’s faces as we bounce from one Christmas activity to the next. However I have come to the conclusion that I lie to myself quite a bit.
I think all women do it. We are supposed to love this time of year, the baking, parties, gift giving, children’s activities, decorating, dressing up for the parties, hosting the parties, making food for the parties, buying gifts, artfully wrapping the gifts, making sure the gifts are “extra” special. Sue me if I am setting us back a few decades here but don’t worry I do realize that there was a women’s movement but even now in 2011 the women are the ones who still make Christmas Merry. Without us you would have no sparkling pinecones, dusted just so with the perfect amount of glitter, nor would you have that freshly baked loaf of pumpkin bread to take to your co-worker as a Christmas gift. I’m just saying that this time of year is tough on us and though we may enjoy it (I’m sucker for any Bing Crosby carols) we can easily get overloaded.
It starts the minute after Thanksgiving. The Christmas tree goes up and the decorating begins. Thankfully at my house my wonderful other half likes to decorate for Christmas as much (actually more) than I do. I always have visions of a fire in the fireplace, the children in their cutest pajamas (not the raggedy worn out ones they usually wear), and traditional Christmas carols playing in the background while we decorate the tree as a family. In reality it came down to Brian putting up the tree after the little one was asleep and the big one wasn’t even here; he was at his Gaga’s house for the weekend. I decided I couldn’t deal with it and sat on the couch with a glass of wine and complained about how tacky our artificial pre-lit garland on the mantle looked. Not exactly the Norman Rockwell moment I was hoping for. See, this is what the problem is, I think we set up in our minds what the “perfect” moments should be and then when they don’t happen or don’t play out the way we think that they should we begin to stress out and then have a meltdown, the worst kind of meltdown there is: a Mommy meltdown.
Mommy meltdowns. I have had my fair share over the last few weeks and I totally blame Christmas. Well, maybe I should blame myself; I really need to learn to say “No.” Between baking for all of our friends (gifts), shopping for last minute gifts, the children’s school activities, church, visiting out of town, Christmas parties and then the normal day to day grind, I am about to snap. I take that back, I have snapped, quite a bit. I hate it too; I become devil woman and fuss at the children or my husband because I just can’t take it anymore. It could be worse; I haven’t heaved the Christmas tree through the window or anything, not yet anyway.
I know I need to just relax and slow down but it’s hard to do with two small children. I know that these are the best years of my life and I am trying to savor these moments, each and every one (even when I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown over spilled rice crispy treats or my dead magnolia leaves on the mantle). I know all of the advice and do try to take it, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the rat race. So it was a Christmas Miracle when I was picking up the kids and saw a magical flyer at The Goddard School. I almost cried when I saw that flyer up on the wall. The husband and I had not been out ALONE in over 6 months until The Goddard School had a Parents Night Out. We needed to go out on a date so badly that I could have easily skipped home that afternoon, I was so joyful. Talk about spreading tidings of great joy. I called the most wonderful man on Earth that very minute and told him we were going out that weekend. You probably heard him shouting with glee at your house. Yes, we are deprived folks.
On our date we were even able to have an entire conversation where we were not interrupted and I did not have to bend over and pick up a sippy cup off of the floor 12 times because some little girl was bored and throwing her cup on the floor. It was wonderful, lovely and after dinner we went to Home Depot where we didn’t have to walk by the lawn mowers so a certain little boy could sit on them all night (I know, Home Depot, I can see you shaking your heads at us, yes we are a sorry bunch but hey it’s just what we do).
Look, I do love Christmas; it really is the most wonderful time of the year. The children’s excitement is contagious, the crisp cold air is exhilarating and the bottles of wine I get as gifts can help me deal with the rest! We all (mommy’s are you listening?) need to take time for us and our spouses during this time, it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the entire “extra” business. All of that “extra” is nice but it’s just the icing on the cake, the real joy of Christmas is being with family, friends, neighbors and those in the community, all of us sharing in a truly magical time of year. Merry Christmas!