This is the week of the holiday season that I don't love. My stress level is climbing, my sleep level is almost non-existent and I'm looking at every day thinking if I can just make it through it without being a major shrew, then it's a win.
The kids have the pre-Christmas crazies and my dog is on bed rest. When I look in the mirror I see myself the way I think others are seeing me, pudgy, half-gray, getting wrinkles and dark circled eyes. I feel shocked by the realization that whole groups of people I thought were my age are really a decade younger than I am. Strange indeed.
It is the week of guilt for me. My list of things I wanted to do far out weighs the amount of things I'll actually be able to get done. The necessary and obvious things will be accomplished, but there will be in the back of my mind the long list of wish I could have's.
It seems part of my energy this week gets spent on looking back over the year. I'm filled up with the what if's and why didn't I's. You know them I bet. What if I'd started my holiday shopping in fall or even in November? What if I'd thought about Christmas cards before, oh, say, yesterday? That letter to go with the kids picture cards that should have been written months ago and now will most likely never be written. The blankets for the boys I meant to finish up months ago. The great gift ideas I've just thought of that will take great effort to pull off, and the dread that they won't be worth it. The programs I wanted to go to but couldn't pull off all the arrangements for. The phone calls I meant to return and the cozy coffee meetings and the girlfriend dinners I missed. The house projects left undone.
I think of all the people I've lost touch with or the relationships I've messed up and the people who have me on the not so welcome list. I think of all the craft projects that the kids could have made for great gifts. There are all the great holiday kids/family Christian things we could have done, like Jesse Trees or Jotham's Journey. My reflections of the year gone by are clouded in dark words like evaluation instead of grace words like acceptance.
There is the holiday hosting to plan and prep for. The holiday get togethers that require me to get it together and get us there together. There is the impending snow that will lend us a beautiful backdrop for our Christmas, but will exhaust us in the traveling and shoveling. Just getting the 4 kids into their snow gear, into and out of where ever we're going and back home again is depleting. Don't even ask me about the actual activity whether it's the store or a doctor appointment or a lesson, it's taxing. The guilt of not being a big holiday decorator, even though I explain, defend and believe in my 2 year old in the house over the holiday policy, I still feel like I should have pulled out all the stuff and put it up.
Don't worry, it's never a lingering thing with me. I just have a few days every year of this sensation that the holiday season is too much for me. In the end, I crank up the tunes, sip my seasonal cocoas, teas, coffees and ciders. I enjoy my fire place family time. I watch It's A Wonderful Life. I linger in front of the tree late at night seeing all it's beauty instead of everything else. I revel in every one's cards and letters. I read and reread The Christmas Story. I find the quiet time to marvel at The Miracle. I will enjoy, love and treasure every moment of all the parties and festivities. I'll cherish the looks on the faces of all those who receive. I get teary over my little ones while they're fast asleep. I see each and every blessing in my life for it's utter extravagance, knowing that I am indeed covered by God's grace, and it's enough.
It is more than enough.