2013-12-4 Exhaustion of Christmas Remember when Christmas used to be fun?  First, as a kid, when all you had to do was excitedly fall asleep Christmas Eve while lights twinkled outside your window, then wake up at the crack of dawn to run downstairs to the BEST DAY EVER?

Then remember when it was fun when you were first married?  The two of you would snuggle in for the holiday season, away from work.  You would splurge on big gifts for each other, then eat and drink too much for a few days (weeks?).

Then came the time when you had just one kid and it was fun then, too.  For the first time you were sharing the joy of Christmas with your offspring.  You got to see the magic through innocent eyes all over again.  It was beautiful, everything you dreamed.

Then you had to go and mess it all up by having another kid.  And perhaps even another.

Oh, and double forehead-smack to you if one of your babies was born in December.  What were you thinking?!  (The Bug turns 2 on the 16th, poor kid.  Luckily he doesn’t care yet that his birthday is also wrapped up with a Santa event.  Two-fer!)

In fact, there seems to be a universal holiday law: take the number of kids you have and multiply your pre-existing holiday stress by that number.

I have been denying these feelings for awhile.  I have always loved Christmas.  I used to get tingly in my toes the first time I saw an ad on television for Christmas stuff.  I didn’t care how early it was.

But if you are like me, this holiday season you find yourself dazed and stressed.  I find that the magic of Christmas has been replaced by one giant, whopping, stroke-inducing, TO DO list.  Like…

- I am trolling Amazon.com trying to make sure that my kids have equal gifts, gifts that they both love.  I am also desperately trying to figure out what the heck my 4yo was talking about when he asked Santa for the Disney Planes LEGO set today (HELP!?).  I have big demands to deliver up some magic for 2 little boys who mean everything to me.

- Then I am bludgeoned with school parties and gifts (you all know about my preschool), Christmas pageants, and more.

- We are very, very fortunate to host our family nearly every Christmas.  This is nice and we love it because we don’t have to travel.  But that also comes with the task of creating a menu, making it to Sam’s in time to load up on meats-in-bulk (ew), and making sure our wine cabinet is stocked.  I love having family here but let’s be honest, it’s work.

- Then we are like all good American families.  We have bombed the nuclear family to smithereens.  Brothers, sisters, steps, in-laws, cousins, and so on.  I don’t even know who I have bought what for at this point.  Just know that if you are family and you got a huge shipment of Pampers wipes it means I probably mis-shipped your gift.  But know that I am enjoying a lovely cashmere bathrobe.  We can switch next time I see you. Maybe.

- This is the first year where I put up a minimal amount of Christmas decorations because all I could think was how in about 3 weeks I am going to have to spend another 2+ hours to get them all down, packed back up, and hurled in to the attic again.  How Bah-Humbug am I?

It goes on, doesn’t it?

So how do you slow it down?  How do you recapture the essence of Christmas?

I am not talking about the religious part, the whole “Jesus is the Reason” stuff.  I get that, I know that, we practice that.  Remembering why we do this doesn’t change the fact that it still needs to get done.

I am talking about the part where you get to actually breath, feel the magic, and have some holiday stillness.  I want some streamlining tips folks.

For it seems like, as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, etc., I am so conscious of wanting to show everyone that I love them and appreciate them that I run myself ragged.

My hubsand and I host, we get together with friends, we laugh, we sing, we share, but every night I sit down with my 2 page (not kidding) to do list and cringe.  I can’t see past it to the twinkling Christmas tree and I am wolfing down my eggnog drink quickly so I can get up and get stuff done.  Not even tasting those 300+ calories.  Shame.

Rest assured that I am not trying to be Pinterest mama.  We haven’t crafted, I haven’t sewn, there is nothing handmade. I don’t think I am placing crazy standards on myself (this year).  I am just trying to make sure we show up on time with what we are supposed to have.  Oh, and make sure I have time to get the groceries.

Because let’s be honest, parents, this stuff is ON TOP OF all the other CRAP that we have to do every day all the time.  It isn’t like my laundry is cleaning itself or my Swiffer became the magical mop in the spirit of Christmas.  Someone has to get the Christmas cards licked and addressed then clean up dinner and put the kids to bed and then figure out which New Years parties we can make it to and if we can get a sitter and RSVP and let people down.

Again, how do you do it?  How do you slow it down?  How do you embrace the magic?  And how do you get all your crap done?

I can’t figure it out.  But I am really hoping that on Christmas morning, when 2 little sets of feet patter through the hallway at 6 am, giggling, eyes aglow, it will all be worth it.  I believe that in years to come, when my boys remember our traditions and as we pull out old Christmas decorations that they remember, that take them back, it will all be worth it.

In the meantime, though, give me your tips, please. Hurry! Or I might be passed out from chugging too many eggnogs.

PS- If you want to read the Christmas letter I wrote to Santa last year, please do.  I still love it.

PPS- If you are looking for a good Christmas gift idea, buy “my” book!

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10 Thoughts on “Christmas Exhaustion, Multiplied

  1. I’m trying to enjoy it but I have spent two days feeling almost short of breath for all I have to do, and my husband is all for positive reinforcement so I really can’t even threaten them by telling them Santa will give them coal! Boo.

    You are not alone. Keep reading the link-ups at LOBS! And of course link this up if you haven’t.
    Tamara recently posted…Those Crazy, Stressful Holiday Times.My Profile

  2. Oh I know every last bit of what you’re saying and I wish I knew how to fix it or change it in some way. The only real change I was able to make was just not trying to make everything perfect. You did yourself a favor by not putting up ALL the decorations so continue down that path!! We also only buy for the kids on both sides of my family now which is a HUGE relief. Of course, you still have to buy 1,000 kid gifts but somehow it’s easier. As for the Disney Planes LEGO set – I bought my boys the Duplo one!? Not sure if that’s the one they want but, get ready to spend upwards of 50 bucks. Disney is a greedy monster.
    Allie recently posted…How To Survive the Elements & 20% Off…My Profile

    • Hi Allie! I did buy the Duplo set! I mean, er, Santa got the Duplo set. Trying to make sure that was going to be OK with my 4yo without violating his Santa-trust was tough but I think we worked it out. Thank you!

      And AMEN on holding back on the decorations. I want to be festive, I feel like decking the halls to the brim would help that, but then the Christmas season is so short this year. We have a tree! I win!
      Allison recently posted…6 Weeks of Cookies Challenge: Chai Tea Cookies with Eggnog GlazeMy Profile

  3. I am minimalist over Christmas. I’m not even doing cards this year. I give gifts to their teachers but I don’t give gifts to everyone in the world. I will give a little something to my neighbors. My family does not exchange at all. We just give to our kids. I am also lucky that I live someplace new so the expectations down here are non existent on me. When I go to NJ in a few weeks, there will be some breathless days here and there, trying to get to all of the places I need to go, but then I get to drive back down to NC and hide away for another year.
    Ilene recently posted…The BridgeMy Profile

  4. I really relate to this. I love Christmas but my family (read: mom) has a tendency to make it extremely stressful every year. By the end of October the wish lists are flying around and I’m all — you’ve known me for almost 39 years, can’t you just guess at something I might like?

    My husband and I are determined to create our own, saner holiday tradition. His family always does a really relaxed day — lots of small, random gifts and everyone just sits around all day eating and drinking (esp. drinking) and taking turns opening presents. You can get someone a pair of socks that are funny and that’s cool.

    As for December birthdays, Henry turns 2 on Thursday (12/12). I’ve decided that I’m never going to put up the tree or decorations before his birthday party. Just to create a little bit of a separation. My sister-in-law and nephew were born on 12/28 and 12/30, respectively, and it really does kind of stink.

    Glad you enjoyed the debate on Maxed Out. And glad to be sharing the HerStories Project with you!
    Deb @ Urban Moo Cow recently posted…Everyone Has Limits, Not Everyone Has ChoicesMy Profile

  5. Ok, so now I will have to declare my love for you right back (referring to your comment on my blog!lol) because you wrote this way better than I did, but it’s the same exact message!! My current post (& feelings!) are the same…
    And ps I spent 2 weeks scouring not only the internet, but 3 local stores in search of my 2 boys’ “special” gift (teenage mutant ninja turtle castle) and when I finally gave up, it threw my whole shopping off, bc now they weren’t “even” anymore!!! I can sooo relate! Hope you found your mystery Lego toy! :)

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