The Most Stressful Time of the Year!



I realize this will sound flippant, but people who wrap up all their Christmas planning weeks before December 25 really must not have a whole lot of stress in their lives.  Christmas is a disruption in my life.  It just adds chaos to my already chaotic existence.  I walk around dreading it, and at the same time I become wistful when I realize it’s over before I had a chance to enjoy it.

We stopped doing gifts for the adults on my side of the family, thank the lord.  I am such a bad gift-giver except when I feel especially inspired.  As for myself, the best gifts I have ever received have been the ones I picked out on my own.  I don’t like the stress of opening something and pretending to love it, honestly.

I like giving to others, but I prefer to give my time or money, or both.  I like to create things, but I can’t think of anything I’ve made that is especially gift-worthy.  I want to teach my kids to adopt this spirit of giving as well – but it’s really hard to do when we celebrate secular Christmas and the kids get showered with toys by both sides of the family every year.

I have been so overwhelmed with stuff at work lately.  One minute I’m on top of my list of projects, and then I get hit with another complication.  And it’s always a complication, not just a quick task.  I can accept that this is the way my life is now – no semblance of the mythical “work-life balance” – but throw Christmas planning in the mix and life becomes even more treacherous to navigate.

I’ve been getting emails and texts about what the kids wants for Christmas.  Here’s the thing:  they don’t “want” anything, nor do I want them to have anything in the way of seasonally obligated donations.  My children want for nothing, because they have everything they need.  Sure, if you make suggestions about toys and games, or if they happen upon a Hatchimal commercial or see a Trolls movie themed hair styling kit at the store, they will indicate that they “want” these things.  But they want these items they same way I want every new handbag that pops into my email inbox by way of flash sale or one-day only event:  the want I feel is fleeting and visceral, and easily replaced with a more compelling thought or sensation.  I want all of these things, and the want is hollow, bestowing a feeling more like a burden than a prize if the object of desire is actually obtained.  In short, my kids think they know what they really want, but they don’t.  It’s up to me and their father to teach them to discern true need from the meaningless longing of “want.”

Soon the dust will settle, and one way or another, Christmas will happen, with or without the stress and despair I usually feel at the prospect of this supposedly merriest of gifting obligations.  So I guess I writing this was a bit cathartic.  If I can somehow learn to enjoy the journey to Christmas morning as much as I enjoy the relief I feel upon arriving, that will truly be the best gift of all.


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