Every year I spend about two weeks before Christmas ready to pull my hair out. I spend the week before Christmas a jittery, irritable, ready-to-snap shell of my real self. I spend the last two days before Christmas in full-on panic mode. I always make myself enjoy Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but just barely, because I'm in a constant state of everything-has-to-be-perfect-everyone-has-to-be-happy-a-schedule-has-to-be-kept-up-with.
Every year I spend about three months prior to Christmas reminding the kids in every other breath that Christmas is not about "ME ME ME AND WHAT AM I GETTING FOR CHRISTMAS???" That's even more frustrating and more stressful than all the other stuff.
After Christmas last year, I said, "No more." At least to myself. And then the months started to pass, life got back to normal (that is, the normal level of crazy instead of the holiday level of crazy), I started my mid-year holiday planning, and I started to think, "It's once a year. It's not so bad. It's worth it to make sure everyone has a good Christmas. This year I will be able to help the kids understand the real meaning of Christmas. Etc. Etc. Etc." Just like every year.
And then I caught myself.
It wasn't just about the stress of making everything come off without a hitch. It was about the fact that all the TALK about the real meaning of Christmas wasn't getting into the kids' heads, because that's all it was: TALK. How can I expect them to believe that Christmas isn't about getting presents, if we keep giving them presents for Christmas? How can I expect them to believe that Christmas is about Christ and others, if we never do things for Christ and others?
So, as I mentioned in a previous post, Randy and I started talking about it this past summer, and decided to change up how we do Christmas.
It was so different. It was different to not have presents, to think about others instead of ourselves. It was different to just have a nice, quiet, relaxed day; it was different to not be rushing around like a crazy, stressed-out headless chicken. It was different to not have to worry about whether this was going to go right or that was going to be done in time for the next thing to happen. It was different, but in a GREAT way. I cannot express how much better it was to experience Christmas this way, as a family. For the first time in my life, I did not experience the Day-After-Christmas Blues, or the need-to-sleep-for-a-week-to-recover feeling. Friday, we are doing New Year's presents, and last night I got to sit down and wrap, with no stress, no panicky feelings, no worrying about a million other things I have to get done by "the deadline."
I am already looking forward to next Christmas :-).