I love Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Not the "Holiday Season" but Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the shopping, the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, the shopping, the eating, the shopping, the family memories. Did I mention shopping? Yeah, well, I love that too. Best of all, I love sitting at church and being FULLY reminded of what the whole season is about: the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I love the WHOLE story.
What I don't love is that I am so NOT a planner. I fly by the seat of my pants and, in doing so, I destroy my Norman Rockwell-esque vision of what our Christmas will look like by adding to my own stress.
As I cross things off my internal list (because let's face it, if I actually MADE a physical list, I'd leave it at home), I start to feel the stress dissipate. For example, I had my step-mom's gift bought 2 weeks ago, but it has been sitting in a bag waiting for me to put it together, box it, wrap it and mail it out. BUT, I put off putting it together, boxing it, wrapping it, because when I mailed it out I had intended on sending our Christmas card and newsletter which were not done (trying to get 4 kids' pictures when they are moving in different directions at any given time which means I really need to learn how to photo shop people into pics). I finally got it boxed up, wrapped and sent, without the card (I'll spend the $.45 to send it separately) and VOILA...stress level...less. But you see my dilemma right? I'm trying to be cost effective by putting all the items in the same box going out. Or time effective by gathering up all the gifts (which still are not ALL purchased but I'm almost there) and boxing and wrapping at one time so that I only have the wrapping trappings out once instead of dragging it out multiple times. Or shopping effective, which is made SO much more fun when the kids' wish list changes daily/hourly. Yeah, I can hear you now thinking "Good Luck with THAT". I think you can figure out, or at least understand why I'm a bit stressed.
Now, add to that, my two teenage girls who run with gangs of girls. The LOUD variety. Each has about 6 friends in their "gang". Now, the younger of the two girls, her gang decided on doing a secret Santa, which I applauded. Once the secret Santa drawing occurred, they all...wait for it...went and bought gifts for everyone. I'll give you a moment to scratch your head on that one. Of course, she had basketball on almost every Saturday/Sunday this month and this past Sunday, the Vikings Game followed by Holidazzle. Evenings are spent driving kids to various activities (church, basketball, dance) so that wasn't an option. The procurement of said gifts fell squarely on my lap. She did come up with a nice idea for her "bff" and ever the helpful mother I offered to help her make a fleece blanket. So yesterday, while on the floor with 4 yards of fleece, box of long pins, a rotary cutter, a rubber mat and a measured straight edge, I asked my son to please stuff a dirty sock in my mouth if I should ever open it to volunteer in such a manner. It's done, it just needs to be tied, which she will do tomorrow (can you say Mother's not the only one who cuts things close? I knew you could.) The rest of the gifts were great finds (on my part).
My older daughter went the simple route by buying (or having ME buy) frames and she filled them (or I sent the pictures in for printing, paid and picked them up) with cute pics of her and the recipient. OH, but of course she has two girls in her gaggle for whom she is CLOSER so she had to do something EXTRA for them. Extra for one meant her making a homemade hot chocolate mix (thinking of course that it would be inexpensive...we could have flown to San Francisco and had hot chocolate on Pier 39 for the actual cost*).
Please, don't' get me wrong. I am not against these girls giving gifts. Nor do I mind doing or helping with the shopping. What I have problems with is the lack of appreciation for the effort I go through for them and the fact that it never seems to be enough (for them). I really do think they are at an age where they should realize that I have made an effort on their behalf and behave accordingly. They don't. And this makes me sad (which adds to my stress because I don't WANT to be sad).
My son isn't a whole lot better, although I give him credit for doing at least his girlfriend shopping on his own, as he threw a gift bag, a baby shower one, at me because I happened to comment, "What are you putting in that baby shower bag?" Apparently boys being boys don't recognize pastel color bags without the words "Congratulations on your New Baby" as being inappropriate wrapping for one's girlfriend at Christmas. And of course they were exchanging gifts later that day so the opportunity to purchase a large enough bag was gone. (YES...I see the similarities here too).
My youngest has remained a bit above the gift giving fray but we've had our own struggles with her completing her homework on time and as a result suffering the consequences. In case you haven't read somewhere in my blog, I AM NOT A HOVER PARENT. She, however, is making me play one in her life.
My whine wouldn't be complete unless I referenced the husband, who has been very good at decreasing my stress level by calmly rubbing my back while stating "Gee, you sure seem to have put everything off til the last minute this year. You're just going to have to find the time to get it** all done." Brings a smile to your face doesn't it, to have that kind of emotional support?
And finally, there is my family. We are pretty spread out and I don't get to see them much. It used to be my dad came here for Christmas because it was easiest for him to do so but his health has been tenuous the past few years and the trip would be difficult at best. This year he is dealing with his step-daughters who are all dealing with a variety of health issues, from auto-immune disease to cancer so my step mom has her hands full, bless her heart. My only sister was hospitalized last week with an infection and they found out late last week that the infection had entered her prosthesis hip. She is in KY but had her hip replaced by a surgeon in WA and would prefer to be under his care (her boyfriend is in WA) but the hospital in KY has given her such a runaround that she finally released herself this morning, after 9 days, AMA and is (hopefully by now) winging her way to WA where, when she lands, she will go straight to the ER. Her words..."do not pass go, do not collect $200". One of the options that were bandied about was that I would fly to KY and assist in getting her to WA, but apparently her boyfriend did the honors (THANK-YOU BRUCE!!! But I WOULD have done it. In a heartbeat.) I bring this up only to show it's not just the normal every day stress of the season. I DO have a few other things on my plate.
My purpose in writing? I think a little catharsis. I sometimes find that if I can just release what's bothering me, I can get myself in a better frame of mind. Most people don't want to hear about the downers of the season, as if you don't say anything about it, it magically goes away. And guess what? Yeah. It helped. So now I'm going to put on a happy face, finish my gift shopping, do my grocery shopping, do a little more baking (sadly, I have realized I will NOT be completing 12 cookies of Christmas, BUT...I will give you links to additional cookies I have done that will work in a pinch). I'll call my sister to see if she's made it safely to WA and is all ensconced in a nice comfy hospital bed.
I'm almost there. Actually, when I think about not having bought into (mostly because my kids are too old, Praise the Lord) the Elf on a Shelf bull$hit, that would not only add to my stress but probably put me in a straight jacket, I am TRULY able to see how thankful and blessed I really am.
I have 4 days left. I'll make the best of them.
But for now, I'll send you back to your regularly scheduled Christmas merry making.
*that was a hyperbole. Sorta.
**it=all Christmas shopping for my family and his, all the wrapping for my family(which needs to be mailed) and his, the Christmas card pictures taken, sent in, ordered (he DID pick them up), the newsletter written, printed up, stuffed in with the Christmas card, the baking done, the groceries shopped for, the appetizers made for Christmas Eve with his family, the Christmas dinner he waits all year for planned and everything needed for that purchased
6 hours ago