Christmas has always been my favorite holiday of the year.
It seems like there are about a million different things to love about Christmas, and I want to do every last one of them!
I love all of the smells and the flavors – baking Christmas cookies and gawking at Disney’s ginormous gingerbread houses and munching on Chex Mix by an open fire.
I love all of the decorations, day and night – from garlands and wreaths to those wild, blow-up lawn ornaments to the twinkling Christmas lights that make me want to be Clark Griswold and illuminate my house with enough lights to land a small plane in the driveway.
I love indulging in all of my favorite Christmas movies and TV specials – A Muppet Family Christmas and The Claymation Christmas Special and A Garfield Christmas and Home Alone and dozens more…
I mean, pretty much everything about Christmas is wonderful, whether we’re talking about mailing out Christmas cards so that just once people can find something other than junk mail in their mailbox, or even buying presents, which can be both trying as well as exciting depending on who you happen to be buying for!
I guess the only thing that I really don’t like about Christmastime is not having enough time to do it all.
Because we still have all of the same responsibilities that we do the rest of the year – we need to go to work, and pay our bills, and feed the kids … so then to add all of this celebrating on top of it all can actually be really stressful! It’s enough to make you look around and think, “How in the world do people have time to do all of this stuff?!”
If I’m being completely honest, it’s December 20th and I still haven’t put up my Christmas lights outside yet.
We also haven’t baked any cookies, or mailed out our Christmas cards … even though they’ve been sitting on the counter for two weeks now. And the only Chex Mix I’ve had is the kind you buy in a bag at the store, which pales in comparison to the homemade stuff I make with twice as much spice and none of those pretzels or breadstick things!
It’s not that my life has been devoid of Christmas this year, though…
We just got back from a great Christmas vacation over at Disney World where we ran around the Magic Kingdom eating Christmas cookies and drinking hot chocolate all night, the boys got to make ornaments out of ostrich egg shells, and they even got a chance to meet Santa and tell him what they all want for Christmas. Plus, we’ve sung lots of Christmas songs, and watched some Christmas specials – old and new, and had a couple of great snowball fights without knocking the Christmas tree over and everything!
I think it can be particularly hard because for so many of us, Christmas is a special time of year in that it’s incredibly nostalgic, and so it’s not just a matter of loving Christmas cookies because they’re delicious! It’s also that we love all of the memories that are attached to those adorable, frosted shapes and we want to share them with our friends and family now … on top of just reliving all of those memories again for ourselves…
But you can drive yourself crazy trying to do it all, which is very much not part of the Christmas spirit.
As a parent of three kids, and a husband to a wonderful wife, and a guy who sometimes struggles to get by without the additional pressures of the best holiday celebration of the year, I’m starting to believe that one of the best presents we can give ourselves as adults is simply a break from preconceived expectations.
We don’t have to do everything in order to have a great Christmas.
Just like with anything else in our lives, there are going to be times when everything falls into place and we’re firing on all cylinders, and there are going to be times when nothing goes according to plan and we’re lucky just to get ourselves out of bed in the morning to start another dreadful day.
There’s a difference between taking some time to make sure that you get to enjoy the holidays and dedicating yourself to their celebration 24×7 at the expense of everything and everyone else around you!
It’s going to be ok if you don’t have peppermint eggnog to drink on Christmas Eve after the kids go to bed.
Or if the Christmas lights just end up staying in a box in the garage this year because one weekend it was too cold, then the next weekend you had a cold, and the weekend after that you spent nine hours trying to navigate the mall to work through all of your Christmas shopping instead.
What’s important is that you enjoy the parts of the celebration that you do get to experience, and maybe next year if you still feel bad about not putting up lights, you can always start a little earlier. Like Halloween. Or maybe Valentine’s Day, just to play it safe!
No matter your stress level or the number of gingerbread men streaming out of your oven, I hope you have a joyous and merry Christmas, and a laid-back but equally festive New Year. 😀
Seriously – take a breath, and maybe have a Christmas cookie, and just enjoy the holidays!