love the Christmas/holiday season. Scratch that. I used to love the Christmas season. When I was a kid and Christmas stress was non existent.
Christmas Eve was always my favorite day of the year…the anticipation of the evening and the next day, dinner at my grandparents’ where fun family memories were made for a lifetime (my uncles have been known to punch out car windows over games of Scrabble). I was always so sad when the season was over and usually immediately started counting the days till it began again.
Even as an adult, I relished all the days and weeks leading up to Christmas—I was that Black Friday shopper out at 4 am scouring the aisles of Target for sales. That wacko that couldn’t wait to put up the tree on Thanksgiving weekend. I was the crazy lady who had her shopping done and wrapped by the first week of December. The one you cursed when you got our Christmas card way before anyone else even thought about Christmas card. I was the one humming Christmas carols in the grocery store. It wasn’t just about gifts—the whole season brought me so much joy and happiness. I couldn’t wait for Christmas.
That Was Then
Now…that’s not me at all. In fact, I brought all of our Christmas decorations down last weekend and stared at them. And then I walked away and poured myself a glass of wine and came back and stared at them some more. Then I hung a strand or two of lights outside and poured another glass of wine and stared at the lights I had hung. Gazing at the lights, I realized, I didn’t have it in me to do it. The Christmas spirit had left me—in its place was the ghost of Christmas stress. I abandoned the task all together and left the boxes in the middle of the living room and went and poured another glass of wine.
My family looked at me in horror. “Why aren’t you putting this stuff up?” they asked. I shrugged with indifference. Why wasn’t I my usual jovial, holiday season elf self? What would happen to all the Christmas stuff? If I didn’t “do” Christmas, would Christmas be cancelled????
You Know What Happened?
Christmas became too much. Too much, too early, too much stress. It’s not even the stress of no one in the family really helping with the tasks at hand, because I used to love doing it all. That is, when “all” wasn’t that much. When “all” was simple. Back in the stone ages.
With social media nowadays, everyone is shoving their Christmases in your face. It once was a holiday for people to enjoy with their families and friends, and now it’s become a showcase of who can out-Pinterest everyone else. It’s no longer about giving gifts to people you love…instead it’s become a contest of “how generous can you be without going broke and living in a cardboard box”? It is less about the actual day of Christmas and Christmas Eve as times to get together, and more about having some “Christmas activity” every %&^*ing day leading up to Christmas Eve. It’s become the season of stress instead of the season of peace.
As I gazed at the boxes that held the Christmas decorations I once cherished, I felt like the Grinch. I wanted to stop Christmas from coming. And why? Because instead of giving me warm fuzzy feelings like it used to, Christmas has me popping Tums like they’re candy canes. Every year I’m knocking myself out to desperately recreate Christmases of the past, Christmases that made me feel good, Christmases that brought my family happiness…those tingly feelings that I’m afraid are never going to be there again if I don’t do better than I did the year before. Thus, my new love/hate relationship with Christmas.
How Many Ways Can we Drive Ourselves Crazy?
As my Christmas gift to you my dear readers, over the next 12 days, I will present the 12 ways to ensure Christmas stress this holiday season.
Day #1 of Christmas Stress
Send Christmas cards. I remember watching my mother write out boxes of shiny Christmas cards, addressing the envelopes with the fancy ink, writing a heartfelt note to each person inside the card. We would receive cards from other people which we would string across the living room with butcher’s twine in ghetto fashion. My mother probably sent cards to two dozen people and it took her several days to do it. But she still didn’t endure the Christmas card stress. Today’s Christmas card is a whole new animal.
Today’s Christmas card must be a photo of your family posed in a meadow at sunrise, (in matching outfits). Or in pajamas with Santa handing out cookies. If you don’t have kids, you have to take a picture of your cat dressed up as a reindeer or you on the beach with a Corona. You CANNOT just send out a generic boxed greeting card that says “Merry Christmas, hope you had a great year, Love, the blah blah, blah family”. Are you crazy? No one will hang that card up. We want your photo cards so we can display them prominently through out our living room. (With Pinterest designed card holders—OMG it’s soooooo cute…is that made out of recycled spray painted wire hangers????) That way everyone can see how many photogenic friends we actually have.
It’s taking us five days to arrange the pictures, choose the outfits, go to the mall (or the meadow), take the pictures, agonize over the best one, order the pictures, print the outside address labels from our list of 700 people who we send cards to on a yearly basis (and can’t even personally address the inside of the cards because we don’t know their children or husband’s names), and take them to the post office. Why are we doing this to ourselves??? Because it’s exactly what everyone else is doing. What happens if we don’t do it one year? Will we be off someone’s Christmas card list??? The horror! But then again…it’d be one less way to go crazy this Christmas. One way to less Christmas stress.
*This is our Christmas card from 3 years ago…we don’t do matching outfits.