By: Jessica Aldred
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring……….Oh come on, who am I kidding. As the days of Hanukkah start to pass and Christmas nears, the to-do list gets longer, the days get shorter and my children, who are now confined to demolish my house, are more than stirring. They’re climbing the walls actually. As I hide in the shadows to wrap gifts when they’re not looking, covered in flower and smelling like the coffee that is now fueling my every day existence, I struggle to get through these final days before Christmas without totally losing the spirit of the season.
As a working mother of three, my daily life is a juggling act of shifting children from school, to their respective activities, and back again. While I often wonder how I haven’t forgotten someone, somewhere, or sent someone to soccer in a karate uniform, there are those rare times when I sit back and realize that I’m pretty stinking good at this household management business. I’m a mother, nurse, human calendar, cook, driver, shopper, accountant and all around housekeeping service. While I’ve come to juggle my daily tasks quite well, the addition of holiday stress brings a whole new dimension to the game.
Come the second week in December I’m expected to provide a detailed list of what each of my children would like for Christmas and their current clothing/shoe sizes. Conversely, getting that information out of others is like pulling teeth. Day after day I debate what to get those hard to shop for family members with little to no input from those same people who requested a detailed list of me. I bake endless of amounts of cookies to share with coworkers and peers, which while I enjoy on some level, also becomes just another item to scratch off the to-do list and rush out the door. I wrap gifts into the night and organize them meticulously to ensure there is equality for all. I fight excess traffic everywhere I go as others rush to get the best deals on the hottest holiday gifts. I attend fundraisers and volunteer where I can, while shelling out donations at every turn. I organize teacher gifts and deck our halls with our standard holiday décor. Did I mention the elf? I wake in the wee hours of the morning to move the elf who, to be honest, is only remembered because the baby still wakes to feed at night. As I count down the days until Christmas, unfortunately as an adult, the eager anticipation of Christmas morning has past and the seeming calm that follows the holiday stress becomes my goal.
A time that should be about creating memories with friends and family, filling our bellies with delicious treats and fostering the wonder that the season holds for our children, has become a source of dreaded stress for many of us. I suppose those whose daily lives afford some extra time for the holidays are able to truly enjoy the season, however when your life is already overflowing with things to do, the holiday stress causes seemingly more suffering than it’s worth. That’s not to say I don’t love seeing my children open that one special gift that they only asked Santa for, or the squeals of delight each morning when they find what that meddlesome elf has been up to. It’s just an honest admittance that there is too much to do, too little time, and too many fire drills that pop up along the way.
I’m thankful for a happy, healthy family this holiday season and countless amazing friends who make getting through each day possible. As I take a deep breath and wait for Santa to arrive this Christmas Eve, I wish all those friends and family peace as the stress of the holiday season passes and makes way for an amazing 2015!