I love the holidays. I love the sounds, the scents, the events … everything.
This year though, Christmas was far more stressful than enjoyable for me.
I need to figure out why.
The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is always chock-full of events planned at our house. Starting with turkey day and the cooking, we always follow that with Piper’s birthday (and accompanying parties). This year, that meant both a kids’ party at a gymnastics center and then a friends and family party at the house, following.
I always like to bake for the parties because store-bought cakes? Ew. So, there’s that.
Then comes my dad’s birthday, and the full-day process of baking his “Dream Cake” – a chiffon cake layered with egg custard and a whipped chocolate frosting. All from scratch, of course.
And that precedes the biggest night of December for us – our huge holiday party that we host every year. I cook all day, we buy every type of alcoholic beverage you can imagine, and we celebrate the year’s end with 50ish of our closest friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances. It’s a blast, but it’s a lot of work.
Then there’s my office party, which of course I plan and host. This year, we catered in which meant planning the drinks, appetizers, set up and clean up. More work than usual.
We also added my grandfather’s 90th birthday to the mix – and two parties there, plus a holiday recital at Piper’s school. Family photos. Hair and dentist appointments. Jingle Bell runs. Holiday “mixers” for my business associations. Shopping? Forget it.
We always have a big Christmas Eve dinner at my parents’ place, then host Christmas brunch and day at our house. Then, the following night, we hosted a potluck get together for all of our friends visiting from out of town.
It’s been hectic. Stressful. Crazy.
I did all but a very tiny amount of our shopping online – and even that felt crazy. Finding the right gifts, keeping track of what I bought so I knew that everyone was covered (nope). Then wrapping everything.
The absolute best thing I spent money on this December was having our house professionally deep-cleaned. Top to bottom. Sparkling, and I didn’t have to lift a finger – which meant I could cook and prep for our house parties without any cleanup-freakouts. I’ll be doing that again.
Adam has been awesome – cleaning up after every gathering. Taking out the recycling, wrapping up the leftovers, wiping down the tables. We’re a good team: I do the prep – the cooking, shopping, decorating – and he does the clean-up.
That doesn’t make it any less work though – especially not when we’re doing it 2-3 nights each week, with hardly time for a deep breath in between.
We need to eliminate some of the stress or figure out another way. Maybe I need to stop offering to do everything myself, or feeling like I have to be super-mom and get all of the holiday activities packed in. The baking of 4-5 different types of cookies. The making homemade everything. I generally enjoy that stuff – but only when there’s time to enjoy it.
My saving grace is this: Adam and I leave for Vermont for 5 glorious kid-free days next week. We’re going to ski, drink hot cocoa with Bailey’s, sit by the fireplace and enjoy peace and quiet. Not answer the phone, probably not check email. We’re going to recover from the holidays.
Next year, I’m going to work harder to make sure I’m not overcommitting and overextending myself. I’m going to say no and not try to fit so much in – or maybe take a day off to do some of the things I enjoy doing so I don’t have to pack it around cooking dinner and daily life.
(And no, I haven’t been running. At all. I’m okay with that, I think.)
I’m going to take a deep breath and relax now, and anxiously countdown the minutes until our departure on New Year’s Day.
Happy Holidays, y’all. I hope you’ve made them as joy-filled and wonderful as ours were – despite the stress and craziness.