Regardless of your stance on whether Lowe’s jumps the gun by having Christmas decorations out before Halloween or whether Christmas music should or should not be played before Thanksgiving, I’d venture to say that just a few of us may be fibbing if we say that the holiday season does not create just a bit of stress (or even melancholy) in us for one reason or another.
I mean, we’ve all seen the “Too Blessed To Be Stressed” sentiments here and there, but truth be told flipping the phrase to “So Blessed That I’m Stressed” seems to be the order of the day, at least for me. It’s kind of a modern-day take that old phrase “More than I can say grace over, ” because right or wrong in today’s world it seems the more we have to be grateful for the more stressed we become. We are grateful for friends and gatherings and baking and decorating but when it all comes at once with a heaping helping of high expectations it can be more emotional overload than most of us can take. Let’s dive right in and explore six holiday hot buttons that can turn your Ho Ho Ho into No No No:
- Your Elf is a Slacker: How come Santa sends slacker elves to over-achieving families? Your kids come home from school regaling you with tales of how their friends’ elves have built replicas of outer space with legos and have turned the coffee maker into a space ship and yours simply moves around (sometimes) to the same six places he has moved for the last four years. Is your elf elderly and in need of retirement or is he just a complete dud? My guess is that your elf is just very tired and maybe has bad eyesight. That is why he is not reading your kids’ notes – he just didn’t see that they were addressed to him. Sorry kids, just like you can’t choose your siblings you also cannot choose your elf. Love him for who he is and be grateful that he remembered to come and visit.
- Your Holiday Card Is Not Done: The pressure! I always tell myself I’m not going to do them and then cave once the first one hits my mailbox. Not only do you have to find a photo (that has not already appeared on social media) you must also pay a mint (fancy corners and pre-addressed envelopes are extra) to order these little tokens of holiday cheer waaay before the turkey leftovers are gone to get the 50 percent off with free shipping. This year we were lucky that my mother-in-law had family pictures taken at the beach over the summer and we had a photo of us actually standing together with normalish facial expressions in clothes without food stains. This is not always the case. We all love getting them, right? Just remember – you are putting way more pressure on yourself with this than necessary, and you are judging your own card-making ability way more harshly than anyone else is judging yours. What if we all just took the last photo on our camera roll and used that in the card? A selfie your kid took while annoyed in the back seat? Here you go. Merry Christmas.
- Your OCD Is Showing: Up until a certain age, kids decorate a Christmas tree in the same way they clump together while chasing the ball on the soccer field. All of the ornaments are centralized in one general vicinity. If you have a hard time relinquishing control, you repeat to yourself, “They are having fun. Christmas is about children. Christmas is about togetherness. Christmas is about letting them hang their ornaments on the tree.” Then they go to bed and you might just do a little rearranging. Same with the gift wrapping. Kids like wrapping presents almost more than unrwapping them. You might come home, like I did today, to find them cutting up the $12 rolls of previously unopened wrapping paper ordered from the school fundraiser to wrap up empty boxes. Deep breaths. “They are having fun. Christmas is about them. Christmas is about togetherness. Christmas is about…” Aw, heck! Can you at least use the 1,000 foot roll of ugly paper I got from Dollar Tree six years ago that still is not gone?
- The Southern Living Christmas Cake is a Pipe Dream: You know the one. It’s white and has that scalloped frosting and edible cake pop ornaments on top. Amazing. In my Christmas dreams I am making that cake to take to the company holiday party dessert competition. In reality I forget about the dessert compeition until the day of and run to Walgreens on my lunch break to buy the red and green stuffed Oreos. #NotWinning
- Your Christmas Shorts Are Dirty: That is because you wore them yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. That is because it is 67 degrees outside. Perhaps it is difficult for you to get into the Christmas spirit when it feels like spring break. Take heart. Have you seen White Christmas? Spoiler alert (if the title doesn’t give it away enough): it snows at the end. The moral of the story is don’t give up. Think snow. Till then, Mele Kalikimaka.
- You’re Having a Blue Christmas: Maybe someone or something is missing from the celebration. Maybe there has been a health scare or major life change, or a little less money to spend on your loved ones or your favorite charitable organizations than in years past. Maybe you just can’t seem to find the jolly spirit of the season you seem to witness all around you but can’t even pinpoint why. Heck, the Publix commercials are making you weepy. Rightly so, Christmas is a time to feel things more deeply than other times of the year. Still, it’s haarrd.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mom but I find myself thinking about Mary a good bit at Christmas. And as I can only imagine may have been the case with her, the things that can seem the most stressful can end up being the greatest gifts. You are probably not going to be able to eliminate stress from your holiday, but sometimes glimpses of sweetness seem to melt out of the most stressful moments. Maybe it will even come in the form of a jubilant, messy-haired child proudly presenting you with an empty box covered in reams of $12 wrapping paper and an entire roll of tape on Christmas morning.
Kelly Barbrey actually saves the holiday cards she receives year after year in giant Ziploc bags. She loves looking through them while unpacking the decorations. She does not care whether you upgraded to the fancy corners or not, and is just glad to be on your list.