With the passing of Thanksgiving it feels like a sprint into Christmas. All that thankfulness we’re supposed to feel doesn’t even last through dinner anymore as people line up to get the best deals on gifts for Christmas, all before the turkey coma threatens to take us out. Not me though. My days of bargain hunting with body armor is over. I’m too old and worn out for dueling over toys or electronics.
The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t actually like the holidays all that much. It’s supposed to be this time of pure happiness, but the truth is that the holidays are a hard time for many people. I guess it’s the assumption that you are supposed to be happy that irritates me.
The holidays stress me out to no end and if I didn’t have kids I might not bother with them at all. So I will suck it up and do it all over again for them because their smiles are the reason I go through the many pains of Christmas. Here are my top 12 Christmas pains EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR.
1. The Christmas Cry – This is how I refer to the annual wave of sadness that knocks me on my butt every year. When you experience the loss of a loved one and I have many times over, the holidays offer that one-two punch of nostalgia and grief that yet another year has passed without that person or people. While I may feel sad at other times of the year, the Christmas Cry hits abruptly usually in the few weeks leading up to Christmas and it’s a tradition I don’t look forward to.
2. Traveling – Nope, I just don’t love traveling for the holidays. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know just how much I love packing EVERY LITTLE THING my kids may or may not need while staying out of town (eyeroll). I also never sleep well in any bed but my own so a tired me is a crabby me.
3. Shopping – So I think I need to give up my “woman card” because I truly HATE shopping. Being given a deadline to shop for all the kids in my family and friends is just about as big of a nightmare as it gets. Just the thought of going to the mall at Christmas time makes me break out in hives from looking for an empty parking space, all the people crowding around me, stressing about which item to get each person to wondering if they will like it. Thank God for online shopping or I don’t know if I’d survive this part of the holidays.
4. Cooking – I’m not big on cooking on a week night so please don’t make me cook on the Super Bowl of holidays. Thank God for my husband who usually cooks for Christmas! Even if I do most of the cooking every other day of the year, I’ll happily call it an even trade.
5. Cleaning – There is nothing more futile than the stress of cleaning for gatherings that will ultimately end with cookie crumbs and wrapping paper EVERYWHERE.
6. Wrapping – As if wrestling with what to buy wasn’t enough, now I gotta spend twenty minutes wrapping some damn irregular sized toy box for two seconds of delayed excitement as my work is torn to shreds. Seriously, if it weren’t for my husband, everyone would be getting gift bags.
7. Overeating – Let’s just say that since my gallbladder surgery my body just won’t let me overindulge like it once did. If I overeat I get sick, but it’s so hard not to overdo it with all the delicious holiday treats. I’m going to have to kill it at the gym this week just to make up for Thanksgiving.
8. Comparing– We put soooooo much pressure on ourselves to provide a “good” Christmas for our kids, but it seriously seems like the stakes get higher every year. Thanks to social media we can all be voyeurs and try to live up to all the traditions of everyone else. I love to see those cute Elf on a Shelf pictures, but I just don’t have the time or patience to pose little dolls as yet another means of bribing my kids to be good. Who else remembers when the fear of the naughty list was enough?
The stakes with the presents gets higher when we know people will be posting pictures of their presents on social media the second the paper comes off. Let’s all agree to define our holidays for ourselves and know that it’s more about this time with our families than all the activities we do and all the stuff we buy. That’s probably all we’ll really remember years from now anyway.
9. Failed Expectations – There comes a tiny moment after the presents have been opened and the food has been eaten in which you look around and your house is messy once again, the anticipation of presents is now over and toys are scattered across the floor. You feel overly full and there are dirty dishes in the sink and you think, “That’s it? It’s over?” All the work and excitement is over. I know we should feel grateful and yet there is just a little twinge of sadness. Now comes the putting away of the toys and expectations until next year.
10. Ginormous Toy Catalogs – You can call it the great big book of awesome or whatever you want, but I’ll always think of these insane gimmicks as great big books of greed. The idea that I should give my kids a book and tell them to circle what they want is obnoxious. I don’t want to create greedy children for whom Christmas is all about getting instead of giving. This year, I’m working on a new “wish less” list of ways we can wish less for ourselves and give more to other people. My kids had some great ideas to add to our list.
11. The Tree – I’ll admit that I do like the smell of a fresh Christmas tree, but beyond that I really am not a big fan of this whole tradition. I don’t love going to a farm and picking it out, decorating it and spending the next few weeks vacuuming up the needles. I didn’t love putting together the fake trees we had in the past either. I’m not one who loves decorating so I honestly do the tree, some stockings and not much else. It looks pretty when it’s up, but then you get the fun job of taking it all down again.
12. Busting The Budget – We try to be good and we’ve gotten better about not putting presents on credit cards, but sticking to a budget any other time of the year is hard, but around the holidays it’s nearly impossible. Every time I think we’re done, my husband is sure to find just one more thing for the kids. I know better than to assess the damage until Christmas is over.
So while you might look at this list and think, “What a Scrooge! Why does she even bother?” I’ll tell you that I don’t love the holidays, but I love what the holidays give my children. It gives them an opportunity to honor God, believe in a little bit of magic, give to others, and find wonder in a simple string of lights. Like almost everything in my life, I recognize that it’s not about me anymore. It’s about them and I hope they read this post one day and know I go through all this stress and struggle for them and because I had amazing parents who did it for me.