I used to love Christmas. At least I did until it was my responsibility to make it happen. My mother was a true Christmas lover and I learned from a young age to adore the lights, packages and wonderful smells that came out of the kitchen. As I got older Christmas lost a bit of its shine but then I was getting married and creating my own traditions. My husband has always thought I was a little nuts about Christmas but was patient even in those years when our house was decorated like a gift shop.
When my children were young I both loved and hated Christmas. I was a stay at home mom for long enough that my family got used to me making Christmas a big production. Some days I enjoyed it other days I was so exhausted I could hardly see straight. Christmas took on a life of its own that consumed many hours until I returned to work full time.
I loved my job but it quickly became apparent to me (if not to my family) that something had to give. The first year I tried not to have anything change and came away from the season resentful. By the next year I had a wonderful book called Unplug the Christmas Machine and was ready to try something new. I sat the family down and told them I couldn't continue to be supermom and needed their help in deciding what Christmas traditions we were going to keep and which would go.
Of course the outcry was deafening. No a thing must change - of course they would help. I held firm and asked each person to identify one food and one tradition that absolutely defined Christmas for them. I've never been able to pare Christmas down quite that much but was able to make it more manageable. I actually started enjoying some of the holiday again.
The holidays have continued to be a struggle for me since then. I still love the Christmas tree (though I opted for a fake tree this year for the first time since none of the kids will be here).
I love Christmas music and goodies if someone else is making them. My decorations sit in closets with only the minimum put out. Of course the fact that I would have to use dynamite on my house to get it clean enough to decorate might have something to do with that.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to holiday happiness the last few years has been my job. December has become one of the busiest months of the year with many pressures and little time for holiday joy. I get caught in the pull between wanting to be home and needing to be taking care of business. Mostly I decide I just want the holidays over so I don't have to deal with extra demands on my time.
Now that I have that out of my system perhaps I can enjoy the day and take a little time for a cup of holiday tea and get the tree out of the box. At least that is a start.