Every year, about this time, we have a very special holiday tradition. It’s the mommy meltdown and while it builds slowly, the explosives are colorful and impressive. I have worked for years to get others around me to change their behavior so we could avoid the mess. You know, get them to do the holiday my way (some expectations spoken, some requiring mind reading) and on my schedule. Sure, we have moments of pre-holiday magic, but there is more frustration than peace, and then I feel guilty, because I am old enough to know better, and it is a repeating pattern, and really, I don’t have any reason to complain. I have great relationships with my family, and my home though smallish, is warm and welcoming, and we have a full stash of wine. I have no excuses, but still, I melt.
This year I am blaming the bloggers. Especially the one who wrote the piece about staging Christmas morning for her children, imagining every detail, including the scents! The scents. Sheesh. Now, I have also been known to stage Christmas morning. In fact, I think I was pretty good at it (cue the music, lights, and the girls still get different wrapping paper, though at 19 and 25, I skipped the super special Santa paper this year). But I have never, ever considered the scents. I consider the cinnamon-scented candles during the holiday, but not the Christmas morn-specific staging scents.
So what did I do? Did I move on with my day, like a well-adjusted adult woman who has raised two well-adjusted grown women, without the joy of custom-scented Christmas mornings? No…of course not. I felt guilty, like I had missed something critical in their upbringing. I also felt bad because this year my gift tags not only don’t match the wrap, they actually clash.
Yes, I know that’s stupid. But these Christmas meltdowns are made of stupid. They are the self-indulgent fruitcake of holiday expectations and too much media and just a way too active imagination gone bad.
Last week I could feel the meltdown coming. It took two days and it was building and I was working on suppressing it. Steve saw it and did what he could, but we all know that it’s best to keep your distance.
And then, while I was brushing my teeth, I had the answer.
Do as little as possible. Christmas will show up, whether you do this (or this, or this, or this) or not. So do as little as you can, love who you can, be here, and be at peace with the rest.
And it’s working.
Yesterday some kids around the corner had a mistletoe stand. I bought two bunches.
Today we are picking Kate up at the San Francisco airport, then spending the weekend with the girls (grown up girls!) in the city. When I proposed this idea, Steve said, “Love the idea, but isn’t that the traditional meltdown weekend?”
Yes, it is. And I think I may have finally found a way around it.
So have a merry (little) Christmas. And I will too!