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Tis the season to be jolly?

Tis the season to be jolly?

Tis the Season to be Jolly?

Tis’ the season to be jolly….yeah right…you can tell that little ‘tune’ was written about a hundred years ago, or before the advent of giant adrenal gland wrecking coffees, Blackberries, and computers that keep us plugged in 24/7. Perhaps when Christmas only lasted for two weeks it really was wonderful and jolly but now those lyrics seem false when one day we’re carving pumpkins, and the next day ‘BAM!’ the Christmas season in all its stressful glory has begun. But this year I decided to conquer Christmas by avoiding the crowds of cranky, harried, adrenaline filled shoppers and finishing early…or so I thought.

The first week in November

I see the best gifts and I am in a good mood! I feel proud of myself every time I buy an item and think ha! I won’t be amongst the shoppers running around maniacally in December thank you very much. I hide my purchases in the top of my closet. Yes! Progress!

The end of November

I am done. Just have to wrap. And make cookies. And decorate. Oh and buy new lights for outside. Oh and buy hostess gifts for the next three parties we’re invited to. Oh and damn, I forgot about stocking stuffers…okay that won’t take long. Breathe. It will be fine. There are still three and a half weeks to go.

The first week of December

The decorating is done! I am out enjoying the Christmas decorations in the mall, or at least I’m trying to as my two year old excitedly points out Santa’s village to me. I am a little distracted as I drag him away from the reindeer into a department store. I still need to find those hostess gifts, and stocking stuffers and then I will be done. Done! What’s this? The same thing I bought for my husband is now half off! Why is it that every year, the same item I bought early decides to go on sale two weeks before Christmas? Oh and he would love that wallet and scarf combo…where was this stuff in November? I sigh as I buy the newly discounted item and make a mental note to return the original. Then I buy stocking stuffers while trying to keep my toddler out of mischief. I am armed with bags of snacks, favourite trucks, and books; I have more gear then a soldier going into battle.

Yay! I did it. I’m finished! I feel lighter on the way home happily humming Christmas carols as we pass my daughter’s school…my heart sinks. I didn’t buy anything for her teachers, and I still need to buy the unwrapped donation gift for her classroom and my son’s pre-school. I return home to my beacon of welcome solitude where no one is angrily honking a horn at me to hurry up as I slow down for an elderly woman walking in front of me. Okay a couple more gifts…at least I’m almost done.

Two weeks to go!

The presents are wrapped! Haven’t started baking yet, but that’s okay, it’s safer for my pre-Christmas waistline. I am smiling as my daughter comes home from school, and produces a new book from the library. “I love these!” she says.

“Are they as good as the fairy books?” I can’t resist hinting about the series I bought her for Christmas.

She ponders for a moment. “The what?” she asks.

A tendril of panic starts to wrap itself around my insides. Breathe. “The fairy books, you know the ones you’ve been asking for, for the past two months!” I laugh a little too brightly.

“Oh those,” she shrugs. “Dunno. They’re still okay I guess, but these are way better.”

ARGH! I clench my coffee mug so hard that my nails dig into my palms around it.

“What’s the matter mom?” she asks.

“Uh nothing,” I run upstairs to find the receipts so that I can return her books and remove them from under the tree. No big deal. I can do this. Two weeks is a long time. Oh yeah have to finish that writing project I haven’t started still, continue toilet training my two and half year old, call the cable guy about our TV and…the phone rings.

“Hey honey it’s me,” my husband says.

“Yes?”

He laughs. “Okay…just wanted to let you know my side of the family has decided to do a draw this year! You’re buying for my sister and I have Carrie.”

“In other words I have Carrie and your sister to buy for now too.”

“Thanks! That’d be great. Did you get Mason’s gift yet? They’re coming in a couple of days so they could pick up everything then.”

“What? Oh crap forgot about him.” He is the latest addition to the clan, at five months old I apparently erased him from my memory.

“Okay gotta run and I’m going to be late tonight. We’re really busy.”

I hang up and try not to swear. My kids run upstairs chasing each other and toss a car down the stairs to see which one will win. “SANTA IS WATCHING YOU!” I yell. (Tis the season to be jolly, my q!#.) “Do you guys want Santa to come? When I was your age I would behave this time of year because I was scared that Santa might not come and here you are sent to the office yesterday, throwing toys down the stairs, not listening…”

“Mom?” My daughter puts her hand on my arm gently.

“Yes?” I snap out of it.

“Even if Santa doesn’t come, I’ll still love him, and I’ll still love Christmas.” I deflate and hug her. She just proved that Christmas isn’t about the craziness. I’m sure they are just acting up because I’ve been ignoring them to get everything done.

“Let’s go look at the lights,” I say. It is a tradition I started with the kids this year. We walk around the neighbourhood admiring the Christmas lights.

“Yay!” she and my two year old say in unison. The list can wait.

As they run around the block excitedly pointing out inflatable snowmen and twinkling reindeer, their cheeks rosy and their smiles bright, I think, this is what matters. This is what makes the season ‘bright’ and ‘jolly.’ This is what the old carols are singing about. I breathe in the crisp clean air and erase my ‘to do’ list from my head. Things will get done, they always do and if they don’t it’s not what I will think of many Christmases from now. No it won’t be the rushing, the mayhem, or the ever expanding list of things that didn’t get done that I will remember; but the moments of joy. Yes, I resign; tis definitely the season to be jolly.

How to make it through the Holiday season a little Merrier

Be grateful

We sometimes say that children are selfish and think only of their wants but it isn’t until they are older that they begin to focus on external wants other than love and the basic necessities. When I asked my daughter what she wanted from Santa when she was two she said, “A candy cane?” This year she is six but she still managed to write ‘love’ on her Christmas list.

I decided to follow her example and when my husband and I exchanged our lists we put the things that we felt we wanted more of (cuddling, hugs relaxing together) and the things we wanted to continue, (watching sappy movies with me on TV, continued love and support etc.) It sounds corny but it was a nice list to receive and way more exciting than my husband’s usual socks and screwdrivers list. It also helped to put the emphasis on what we already have instead of what we want. The irony is we both did it without the other person knowing it.

Slow down!

Take the time to do the things you normally to do to relax, whether it is meeting a friend for coffee, relaxing with a book or taking a yoga class. Don’t skip these things so that you can run errands. I’m speaking from experience here.  I thought I would relax more by checking things off of my ‘to do’ list. So I’ve been taking the time my son goes to pre-school two hours, twice a week to run around instead of taking my yoga class. After two weeks, I still had a very long to do list, and a higher cortisol level than ever. Now is not the time to give up your time for yourself! A hot bath, relaxing with a glass of wine to unwind while watching a sappy Christmas movie, wrapping presents in front of the fire while sipping hot chocolate and listening to Christmas music are all ways to get into the Christmas spirit and maintain your sanity.

Take a moment to wonder

Watch how young children behave. They are caught up in the moment, excited beyond belief while staring in wonderment at the myriad of lights, and decorations. Slow down to look in a shop window with moving trains and Christmas villages,  take a drive through a well decorated neighbourhood to admire the lights while drinking hot chocolate and blasting Christmas carols, and savour the extra time you are spending with family and friends, and Christmas will be a time of merriment once again.

blog by Lisa Van Meeteren

More tips on managing stress over the holidays…