December 6, 2013

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year? Well, not if I have anything to do with it!

I am a gigantic ball of stress.

My shoulders are up by my ears. I have a tension headache radiating up from the knots in my neck. I will likely develop TMJ from my tightly clenched jaw. I am in an almost constant state of shockingly frenzied to-do-list panic. I yell way more than I find acceptable.

"Help." I call quietly from the center of my being. "Help me, please."

Somebody pull me out of this crazed state of overwhelmingness. Somebody take away my computer and my phone. Somebody take away the iPad and the TV from the kids. Somebody hide my planner and my to-do lists. Somebody grab me by the shoulders and look me in the eye and tell me sternly to just stop.

Stop shopping online at all hours. Stop with the Christmas cards and the Christmas calendar. Stop yelling at the kids for being crazy kids and driving me nuts. Stop being driven nuts by my children only because I'm already overwhelmed. Stop with the decorating. Stop with the errand running and the marathon Target shopping sessions with a 2 year old. Stop with the trying to find the perfect gift for everyone. Stop with trying to help other people find the perfect gift. Stop feeling guilty because I forgot to rsvp to breakfast with Santa and there are no longer any spots open. Stop with the birthday party planning and gift buying and party favor getting and craft planning. Stop with the…

Just stop.

Then tell me to go play with my kids. Tell me to curl up on the couch and watch a show with my husband. Tell me to have a cup of coffee...sitting down…but not driving the car. Tell me to have a glass of wine. Tell me to go ahead snack without feeling guilty…we'll get that in a few weeks, now is not the time. Remind me that the kids don't need all of that stuff. Remind me that none of my favorite memories of Christmas as a kid were of breakfasts with Santa or cute Christmas cards from Shutterfly or running errands with a frenzied Mom (I don't even remember my mom being frenzied).

I remember lots of Christmas music and silly singing and dancing. I remember selecting and decorating the tree. I remember yummy food. I remember being with my family. I remember shopping for gifts for the ones I love. I remember Christmas Eve and Christmas Day traditions. I remember my dad's immense love for the season despite working in retail. I remember all of my mom's wonderful Christmas decorations.

And as an adult, before having kids, I remember all of that being so enjoyable to do…decorating and shopping were things I looked forward to, not things I was just trying to cross of my list so that I could move on to the next task. I remember being so much like my dad at Christmas time.

But not this year. Not last year either, if memory serves.

So remind me that I want that feeling back. I want this to be the most wonderful time of the year, like it was for my first 35 years. I don't want to be the Grinch or Scrooge or what the new Christmas classic should be--a story in which the main character kills the Christmas spirit by trying to "do it all". We'll call her Amy. The Amy Who Stole Christmas.

Don't let yourself be an Amy this holiday season.

Reconnect with the spirit of the holidays. Reconnect with what you've always loved most about the holidays, with what the holidays really mean to you. Focus on those things and let all the rest of it go.

Sing songs. Dance silly. Eat cookies (make them if that will bring you joy…otherwise just buy some). Watch movies. Sip hot cocoa. Cuddle with your sweethearts. Look at the pretty lights. Revitalize your favorite traditions. Start some new ones…like sending New Years cards instead of Christmas cards. Or make Valentine's Day your big gift giving holiday with your spouse and make Christmas just about the kids. (Both things I'm considering for next year.)

And for God's sake, put down that damn iPhone and re-engage with the world around you.

And if you see me, please grab me by the shoulders and shake some sense into me. "Snap out of it, Amy!" Say it right to my face. "Don't be the Amy who stole Christmas!"

And then get me a hot beverage, take me by the arm and take a stroll with me to look at Christmas decorations.

We'll find the kids again once we're done. I'm sure they'll be fine. They're pretty durable.

Until next time, go enjoy the most wonderful time of the year…and don't be an Amy!

Happy Holidays!

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