For many years, December has been the most stressful month of the year for me. Even this year, when I lead a virtually stress-free life, I found myself filled with anxiety when I thought about all the things I "had" to do before December 25th. All the shopping, all the mailing of packages and Xmas cards, all the baking, all the decorating, all the gift-wrapping, all had to be done, by me, to the most exacting standards - mine. However, since I actually have time this year to just sit and think, that is exactly what I did: sit and think about it.
First of all, a little history might help. When we were kids, my mother always got "sick" on Christmas Day. To this day, I don't know what that was all about. I have a couple of guesses, but that's all they are, guesses, and I'll not share them here. In the event, what that meant for us was that she laid down on the couch in the living room, covered by a blanket, and told us all to be quiet so that she could rest. Now, the living room was where our Christmas tree was and where all our presents were, and was the only place we could play with them on Christmas Day. To say that she ruined the day for her children would simply be a statement of fact. Fortunately, from the time we could read, we always received books among our presents, so at least we could quietly read. Definitely not a model for how I wanted my own kids to spend their holidays.
When Tom and Julie were little, I was, by choice, a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to make their Christmases special in every way, and because I was the one at home with them, a great deal of the work that went into a big production fell on my shoulders. And that was fine. But, as things do, the celebrations got bigger and more elaborate as the years passed, and I began to feel that it was all just more than I could handle. I just kept feeling that way, year after year, even as Ben and the kids quietly took over more and more of the tasks that I found so overwhelming. I haven't baked a sugar cookie in years, for example, and yet, every year we have them with the thumbprints and the nutballs and the Constant Comment tea that make up our holiday desserts.
That's just one example. I'm sure if I thought about it, I could come up with a dozen more. My family has, in fact, taken over most of the tasks that threatened to paralyze me with anxiety over the years. I just never realized it before now. All I really have to do is acknowledge their help and sit back and enjoy the season. That's actually what they want me to do. Aren't I lucky?