Growing up I always loved Christmas. It was my favorite holiday. The magic of traditions, the beautiful church service, the gifts, the lovely meal, relatives filling the house. I know exactly what I loved about it and while I want to give my children equally wonderful memories, it’s now become a lot of work. By Christmas Eve I’m usually so done with the whole thing that I’m counting down to the New Year so it’s all over.
I try not to get lost in the commercialism of Christmas. I see the Christmas ads starting in September and I roll my eyes. Christmas before Halloween? No thanks. But then Halloween hits and we’re in full out panic mode. I make my list of gifts to buy and it tops 20 people. Then I start putting together my own children’s lists. Except well-meaning relatives start asking what to get them and one by one the gift ideas disappear. Even after I manage to put it back together, I realize I forgot about the stockings. MORE STUFF. I get to know my UPS driver on a first name basis. Then the last minute add ons to my list- the garbage man, the mailman.
I work on travel plans. Who is going where and when. Will we see both sides of the family? Will we get to be home for Santa Claus?
And the shows…. my daughter’s Nutcracker performances with the dress rehearsals, the sing-along at school, the advent party at church. The list of events continues… the ladies cookie exchange, the friend’s holiday party, work parties. Every single minute of every single weekend is booked. Sometimes double booked. Which means babysitters. And oh, do I have gifts for the babysitters?
I start to feel the pressure and I wonder how my mom handled it. I think back to all those magical Christmases we had growing up and I never felt her stress or saw her cracking. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m drowning. Will my kids look back at me and remember me cooking Christmas dinner with a smile on my face? Or will they remember me curled up on the sofa with a huge goblet of wine crying because I forgot the teacher’s presents and I have NO TIME LEFT FOR AMAZON AND I HAVE TO GO TO THE MALL.
Last year we threw out our Christmas tree the day after Christmas. Part of it was that it was dead because we got it the day after Thanksgiving while I was still feeling the holiday, but part of it was I just wanted to put the insanity behind me. How do you enjoy the holidays when it increases your workload a thousandfold? I am so burned out by the time January hits it takes a full year to recover.
Which is why I’ve decided this year it’s going to be different. I’m making resolutions. I refuse to feel overburdened and overwhelmed. This year it is all about organization. I see this holiday coming in October and instead of scoffing it off, I heed the warning. There is a reason the commercials start so early. It’s for moms like me who don’t enjoy the last minute thrown together mess. So I book travel. I make lists. I organize Christmas card addresses. It is never too early to label envelopes. I put things on the calendar, I refuse to double book.
The feeling of drowning comes by not being able to keep your head above water. This year I will be freestyling to the finish line. Hyper-organization won’t take the fun out of the holidays…. it will put it back in it. I promise that I’ll say no to things. I’ll cut back on gifts. And the gifts I do buy will be neatly wrapped before Halloween. I’ll give my kids the Christmas of their dreams and one day they’ll wonder how I did it.
These are my resolutions.
Said one mom in October.
This post originally appeared at the-othermom.com, published with permission.