Ah, Christmas stress. This was the scene yesterday, around dinnertime: Rich working late, kids hungry and losing patience, having abandoned the televised rendition of Angelina Ballerina in the Nutcracker. Making dinner for them (chicken and roast yams), but also preparing a three-course fancy dinner for my girlfriends who were set to arrive in about an hour. Still to do: get dressed, tidy up, put away round one dinner dishes, bathe kids, get them into jammies, teeth brushed, stories read, wine opened, start a fire in the fireplace and put on makeup. Things did not feel merry and bright, nor silent or peaceful.
Then, I remembered this time last year, and the year before. That overwhelming feeling of late December. The one that comes with being the mama of young kids, of being the one who 'does' most of the Christmas doing. It is sometimes stressful. It is sometimes busy. I am sometimes doing it all on my own (or so it can feel). It comes, and it goes. I haven't found a way to avoid it. So, like going on a bear hunt, if you can't go around it, can't go under it, then I better go through it.
Framed as something that will pass, (and with it, all the fun memories of Christmas), I find it much easier to go easy. On myself and others. Just wade in and get through it, with a smile and with kindness. With crankiness out of the way, it becomes a lot easier to soak it in, get through the busy stuff and nitty-gritty. Then, if I'm present, I might arrive in the nice, beautiful moments with enough awareness to savour it.
Like when most of my best friends congregate in my house, the food turns out, the kids have (finally!) fallen asleep, and we can all take a moment to bask in the glory of a new little life about to join us. That's golden.
When my internal clock slows down and the to-do list is out the door and it's all about the moment, the table, the roaring fire, the laughter, the confessions, the chocolate, the wine, the friends. Christmas tradition of girls dinner? Check. Done for another year. But oh, it was so good while it lasted.
Today is back to baking, cards, end-of-the-year this and thats, parties, shopping, and Christmas everything, I know the stress can get me down. It's really not going anywhere. It might even hit me with more added to my plate. But now that I know this, I can choose to do better. Get through the not-fun busy stuff and stay a little longer in the warm, beautiful moments.