Friends who always have family professional looking photo cards made or do holiday letters just didn't get it together. Those that did seemed to squeak in last minute.
Family members who normally finish their gift shopping by October 31st are calling me three days before Christmas to ask what my kids would like.
And I really knew something was up when even kids (who are most likely about to be bombarded with more gifts than a third world village will see in 3 years, and are probably well aware of this fact) are lamenting throughFacebook about their inability to find the Christmas Spirit. It's a sad, sad situation.
I don't know exactly what's up with the world at large this holiday season, but I know that for me, it's a different one. It's the first time I'll juggle post divorce logistics with kids. It's the first Christmas without my sweet Grandma, who really was the glue that held together a whole section of my family. And just to keep me on my toes, there's a massive pile of BIG LIFE STUFF that all needs to be negotiated and dealt with right friggen now.
These things are cumulatively not very conducive to a Happy Holiday Spirit. My tendencies first lean towards the urge to punch someone in the throat, but when the extreme fatigue sets in, I'd rather curl up in a ball and cry. Notice that I said urge. I know, I know...Actually punching people is wrong. And since it's Christmas Eve tonight, there's just too much to be done and no time for crying about it.
Here's what helps me stay semi sane during the holiday season (and keeps me from any punching of throats or other body parts)
It only takes a minute, and in all honesty, many of us spend more time frantically complaining about how hectic life is than it would take to just calm ourselves down and make a game plan. So stop. For just a minute. And breathe. Shut your pie hole, close your eyes and breathe. (I tell myself this all the time. I'm not just being rude to you all..)
Seriously, a wee bit of time invested in getting centered pays off in huge dividends with the prevention of angry eyebrow wrinkles.
I can't even tell you how much the gift of laughter means to me. Seriously, there are a lotta times when you have to either laugh or cry, and if you followed step 1 above and took a minute to breathe, you might just realize that some situations are pretty darn funny.
For example, many people are stressing right about now over the upcoming holiday gatherings, and they do it every year~ not about the food or decorations or gifts~ but because they know they will have to deal with relatives that they feel are crazy, weird or just plain unpleasant.
I could tell you that your relatives really aren't that really bad, or I could tell you the alternative truth. We all have crazy relatives. There is no perfect family.
Whenever possible, I just try to laugh about it. I mean, think about the Griswold's or the Costanza's. If your holiday festivities don't include a metal pole, an official airing of grievances or wrestling feats of strength, well, then...your laughter may evolve into gratitude, which is really kind of deep stuff, don't you think?
It's not gonna be perfect. That's just the way it is. But, it probably can be pretty darn nice. If you let go that is.
I'm super guilty of NOT following my own advice on this one, and doing a mental freak out about all the things that aren't the way they used to be, should be, or could be. *** But when I'm giving myself (and other people) all sorts of grief about what isn't perfect, I'm missing out on all of the ways things are awesome.
It's ridiculous really, and it never ever helps. What does help is figuring out what really matters and putting the energy I have into making those things happen in the best way I can.
My kids probably won't remember if every gift wasn't right or we forgot rolls, or have to skip crafts because I have to work. But they will remember if we were happy or not.
So, what matters to me this year is loving up the people around me, including myself. I'm still going to hustle and do what I can to pull off some holiday magic, because that's just what I do. But, I'm also going to give myself and everyone else a break, and know that whatever it is, is good enough, imperfections and all.
In the words of the ever wise Dr. Suess:
"And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.
'Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!
Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!!!!!! Breathe, Laugh, Let Go and Enjoy!!!