This week the Moms hot wash their holidays. One of us got sick and started thinking. And the other one hit the wall contemplating baked goods. Read on for their after-action report.
Looking back at my list of strategies, I should feel pretty good about this past holiday season. I successfully avoided shopping at the mall. We had fun at the neighborhood party. I even got a reprieve on the caroling, which was cancelled, woohoo! I mean, bummer.
My overall cookie count was a little low, mostly because I came down with strep throat the weekend before Christmas. Not recommended. But I recovered in time for us to spend the holiday with my family, and the rest of our break included a visit with iDad’s parents, Legos, reading time, and our New Year’s movie night (well, afternoon). We decorated our gingerbread house on January 4, but it was still winter break so that totally counts as a holiday activity. Right?
I successfully engineered the switch to a chocolate advent calendar, but I found myself struggling with other traditions I’ve loved in the past. Our tree didn’t get decorated until the 23rd, partly because I got sick but partly because I just couldn’t motivate myself to start the process. Our cards were late, and again I can only partly blame the strep. Mostly it was because I kept putting them off.
Is that a sign that I should pull back on these traditions, too? I don’t see these things as especially draining – it’s not like we invite twenty people over for a tree-decorating party, we just turn on some holiday music and go for it. And sure, writing notes and addressing cards takes time, but I can do that by myself, with a mug of hot chocolate by my side. These things should be antidotes to the holiday madness of the outside world, but this year they felt like chores.
Still, I can’t imagine Christmas without a tree – I know Doodlebug enjoys decorating it, and that’s definitely a tradition I want her to grow up with. She couldn’t care less about whether we send cards, and truthfully iDad would be fine with dropping them too, but again, sending and receiving cards is a big part of Christmas for me.
So maybe the answer isn’t cutting back on these traditions, but being even more careful about how we spend the rest of our time during the holidays? I did notice that Doodlebug didn’t seem to care about seeing other kids as much as I thought she would – she really seemed to crave time to do her own thing. I think we struck the right balance for her. I’ll keep trying to find it for myself.
The holiday break started off inauspiciously: a busy Friday at work compounded by a soul-sucking two-and-a-half hour commute home. Saturday was booked with errands and a Brownie event for Princess Slim. Sunday was a cookie exchange for which I had absolutely nothing prepared. So by early Saturday afternoon I was an exhausted and sobbing mess. Merry Christmas, dammit.
Fortunately Dreamy stepped in and took Slim to Brownies. Lunchbox napped and I recovered enough to get a few things done around the house.
On Christmas Eve I baked and puttered and did holiday stuff. Around 3 p.m. Princess Slim went to church with Dreamy and Lunchbox went down for his nap. “Nuts,” I thought, “I need to start that cinnamon roll dough because having homemade rolls on Christmas morning will be the best thing EVER.” Mixletrisetwohoursrolloutslicerisebakefrost.
But I was tired. And sitting on the couch in a quiet house with a cup of tea felt lovely. Thus launched the following rather schizophrenic internal dialogue:
I really want to bake these rolls.
Are they mission-critical to a good Christmas?
No, they aren’t, but they are so delicious and they will be the best thing EVER. Maybe I could make them tomorrow morning.
So you are going to voluntarily wake up at 5 a.m. to allow enough time for the double-rising and baking? Right. Who’s going to eat these things anyway?
Well, I would. And Dreamy.
Relax then. And your thighs have enough rolls already, k?
But homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning will be the best thing EVER.
The Great Cinnamon Roll debate perfectly encapsulates what this Christmas was about for me: listening to that internal voice that asked “Really? Do you absolutely need to do Thing X and exhaust yourself? Why are you doing Thing X? For the kids? For yourself? To conform to someone else’s idea of a perfect holiday?”
This year I made a conscious choice to listen to that voice. There were hot baths. There were naps. There was even a little exercise, for God’s sake! Of course there was stress but the overall pace and vibe of the holidays was saner and more civilized than in years past. The kids seemed to sense this too. They played well together, for the most part, and like Doodlebug were fine doing their own things.
While I still returned to work tired and worn out the feeling this year wasn’t nearly as demoralizing and devastating as usual. When people asked how my break was, I replied “Good!” — and actually meant it.
Did I make the rolls? Nope. I snuggled with Lunchbox and slept for two hours. Merry Christmas to ME.