How I saved Christmas by ruining it

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Let me preface my holiday tale by reminding you that planning and execution, in general, are not my superpowers. However, when it comes to the average Christmas season, this holiday kryptonite results in the following:

  • frantic shopping, characterized by fruitless searches for something my family and friends would actually like and resulting in an assortment of gift cards and completely random items;
  • frantic wrapping, with an added twist of perfectionistic dawdling;
  • anxiety and panic attacks; and
  • frequent pleas to David and Quinland for just a little bit of help, if they did not mind chipping in, thankyouverymuch.

If you read “pleas for help” as “guilt trips” and/or “unprovoked shrieks of madness,” I forgive you and am happy to give your bugging devices back if you tell me where you have them hidden.

It has been a very different Christmas for me this year. Thanks to the twin terrors of procrastination and prednisone, I left every possible thing to the last possible minute. It came to me with shocking clarity on December 22nd – when I suddenly felt like I could get started on the whole gift-shopping-and-wrapping thing – that I did not have enough time to get everything done in the efficient manner I usually do. The difference? I decided that I simply couldn’t stress about it. I needed to keep myself healthy, keep myself same, and keep the peace.

I did some things I have never done before:

  • asked one friend for a favor for my oldest nephew’s gift and asked another friend for help when I had to entertain – and they both helped out, graciously and beyond my wildest expectations;
  • abdicated responsibility for filling the stockings;
  • didn’t finish a gift I was hand-making (and offered no apologies for it);
  • gave cash to most of  Q’s cousins; and
  • didn’t micro-manage the whole gift-opening process, and thus did not stress about the whole did-everyone-receive-the-same-number-and/or-value-of-gifts thing.

I’d like to say that none of it mattered and that the entire holiday was pleasant and completely stress-free. This wasn’t true, of course. First and foremost, it was hard. It took deep breaths and constant refocusing and frequent reminders of what I was doing and why I was doing it. It was uncomfortable and unrewarding. Second, others were baffled, if not downright disappointed. I’m sure just about everyone wondered why they were told, “Oh, hey – I have a present for you, and I’ll get it to you as soon as I get a chance to wrap it…” and how that chance still hasn’t come by 11 pm on the 25th of December.

Finally, it ruined some cherished family traditions. Q said to me this morning, “You’re sure falling down on the job this Christmas!” I knew she was joking, but I also knew that it must be hard to not open presents before church, to not have our regular stocking-stuffing excursion together, to be told that I didn’t get around to ordering a couple of things I planned to get her and that she’d have to wait until later to get them. But I explained to her why I had done what I had done, and that I wanted to enjoy Christmas this year by enjoying the people I was spending it with, instead of hating Christmas by spreading myself too thin, wearing myself out, and treating the people I love most the very worst. (Her response – “Oooh. Thanks for that.”)

So, how did I succeed? Very well, thank you! I’m still pretty tired, but I didn’t have any major health issues, which is key. I really did keep my stress level down, and I had the most peace-filled Christmas I have ever experienced. Best of all, I have had an incredibly good time. My family has had so much fun together, and I haven’t ruined that by being frazzled and shrill.

(I managed to keep a few holiday traditions alive and well, to boot. I still have a heap of undelivered presents under my tree, I haven’t mailed anything to my out-of-town relatives, and I haven’t sent out my Christmas cards yet. So I’ve got that going for me.)

So, how were your holiday celebrations? Did you stick to the old ways or try something new? Was all calm and bright, or hectic and harried?

xo – Lori

4 thoughts on “How I saved Christmas by ruining it

  1. Merry belated Christmas! Seriously, good for you for taking care of yourself and just trying to enjoy the holiday more. This post really resonated with me. Why can’t the holidays just be about “being”, you know? Loved this!!

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    1. Oh, thank you! Isn’t is crazy how we can let things get so crazy? I think what surprised me the most was that it was hard. I thought that taking it easy, for once, would be easy! But you’re right – just “being” was so rewarding.

      I’m glad you are here! Come read and reply anytime.

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  2. (Okay, I am highly disappointed my comment did not appear when I first did it the day after Christmas! So I shall repeat again:)

    What wild imaginations one forms where one’s dear self is concerned! How sure to be mistaken! My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. And, dear sister, good company was had by all!!!

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    1. I daresay the company was all that could be wanted: lively, good humored, and diverting. Indeed, some might say that the members of our family are – how was it put? – “mental.” 😉

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