Holiday Stress

My mother loved a decorated tree but hated the actual time it took to decorate. And let’s be honest - she didn’t like the mess of a live tree. My dad was a grumpy and reluctant participant. I decided that when I was a parent, the tree decorating would be an EVENT and all adults would be merry and bright about the task without requiring the children to be neat and have an eye for perfect ornament placement. My children had other thoughts. They reached an age when they weren’t all that merry and bright about the tree trimming. It wasn’t their thing. It was boooooring.

This was a disappointment to me.

I confess, I still love the tree thing and I am already excited about this next generation of children. I am plotting the Christmas that both Norah and Christian will join Meme and Pops for a sleepover and a tree decorating extravaganza. It will include hot chocolate and homemade cookies and gingerbread house making. Their parental units can have the night off.

This does not mean that the intervening Christmases were unhappy. They were just different than I had imagined. Imagination is a wonderful thing until it bites you in the tushy. Imagination without decent checks and balances can turn into fantasy living. Real life cannot measure up.

When I was faced with reality versus fantasy, I made a decision to not be foolish. I refused to play reindeer games. I did not ruminate over what I wished for, I took action and created what was workable and gave me a reasonably happy Christmas. I stopped asking the kids to be all-in on the decorating, but I continued to buy them specialty ornaments - that brought me pleasure. I did not ask them to have my feelings.

This holiday season, I would encourage us all to own our experience. Make it reasonably happy, without demanding that others share our preferences. Free people to do their holiday the way that suits them. This will require some creativity, adjustment of expectations, and even downright discipline to not ruminate over what might have been. But it is also wise.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1 NIV