I know that I am not alone in feeling completely crushed by stress of the holiday season, and this year my personal Stress-O-Meter was reading off the chart. But the really funny thing is, I wasn't exactly sure why.
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the cookies, and wrapping gifts. It's fun to take my boys shopping for their Dad and Grandmother, complete with a visit to Santa for a picture. I love all of that. I usually look forward to it all year. I spend hours sewing and knitting and crafting gifts for my family and friends. But not this year. I couldn't manage to muster my typical level of Christmas cheer, let alone maintain it on a consistent basis.
Not all of the gifts I had intended to make got done. The house is only about half decorated. I discovered that my mild allergy to pine trees is now something I have to pay attention to, so I didn't help decorate the tree this year. I had to beg a good friend of mine to use her house for the New Year's Eve party I wanted to host because there's a chance I may need another knee surgery, which would be scheduled to happen on Dec. 30. I just can't deal with the stress of having people come to my house and being hostess the day after surgery.
This is not to say that I no longer enjoy the holiday or that I spent the entire season unhappy or miserable, because there were some really, really great times. I did manage to find or make what turned out to be the perfect thing for my children and a few of my friends, and seeing their faces when they opened the gifts was absolute bliss for me. The party for adult students where I take TaeKwonDo class was a blast and a half. We went to hear my friend sing in her church choir, and were amazed to hear just how beautiful her voice is. We had snow, and we all enjoyed it to it's fullest. Even though my husband didn't understand the emotional emptiness I was experiencing, he came to the rescue and did a lot of the things that I couldn't seem to get done, and I am extraordinarily grateful for this.
And then it hit me when I was putting my oldest son to bed last night. He said that while this year's Christmas was pretty good, it wasn't as fun or exciting as it has been over the past few years, and that he was a little disappointed because of it. He compared this year's quiet, family-only celebration to the past few years when we had large gatherings for Christmas dinner and a party afterwards that seemed to last most of the day and evening. I told him that Christmas, even though it's a very special day, is still a lot like other days. Some days are better than others, and it's the same with holidays. Maybe this year wasn't all that Charlie and I were hoping it would be and at times it was a bit of a struggle to get through. Maybe our expectations were too high. But that's okay, because it was still good and we have a lot to be thankful for. Next year, things will be better, but for now, I'm glad it's over.