I don’t know about you but I’m struggling to keep my eyes open this week – Christmas is less than a week away and I can’t wait to have a 4-day weekend – but soooo much to do in the meantime! My family always seems to literally stumble into winter break – like someone who has run further and harder than ever before, with barely enough energy to lift one foot, let alone reach the finish line. We look at the number of hours remaining, and the buying, wrapping and celebrating yet to take place. Will there be a night of more than five hours of sleep?
This is when you are forced prioritize because you know it won’t all get done.
You are not a failure – you just don’t have the time. It’s ok. Let it go.
I have conceded to the fact that once again, I won’t get holiday cards mailed. I remember when I used to make them by hand, using things like Xacto Knives and individually placing decorative sequence on specially purchased paper. My oldest is asking when we’ll make cookies. We haven’t yet. Well, with my kids’ finals, tests and presentations all this week, plans to be downtown this weekend, and I teach on Friday night, that leaves us with Sunday afternoon and early Christmas Eve morning. Nope scratch that – we have an ortho appointment the morning of the 24th. Maybe we can just make New Year’s gingerbread cookies – donning their finest attire! Yes – that will be my proposal – the cookies will have sparkles instead of holiday sweaters. How do you make a champagne bottle out of frosting???
Fitting it all in hasn’t gotten easier as kids get older. Gifts for teachers and classroom parties are simply replaced with other things. As I remembered that I was supposed to have work gifts finished yesterday, I read a quote the that caught me a little off guard. It said:
Thoughtful presents cannot substitute conscious presence.
As if actually feeling present is attainable right now, right! But it is – and it’s important. As time passes, it becomes difficult to remember what the kids looked like when they were little, the amazing parties you attended and who you met there, what years it snowed on Christmas morning. So I will tell you exactly what I tell a bride right before her wedding day: make sure you pause, take a breath, and notice what is happening around you. Feel some joy in what is going on around you and pay attention – in this case to the glow of the lights, that favorite song, someone in need, someone depressed, and those around you who mean something. So they can continue to be part of your life – take a little extra Vitamin C, try to sneak in 20 minutes more of rest, and tell others they are special to you. Most of all, don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t get done, or done to the level of perfection you hoped for.
I learned long ago when my dad died that the “stuff” really isn’t that important. It’s nice to have, but you remember time together (or the lack of time together), what they said, and other memories like that. Little kiddos remind us of the same, when they are just as pleased to play with the wrapping paper and box as they are with the gift inside. It’s a good lesson we can all be reminded of – it’s our presence that matters. Not our presents. So this holiday season, in all your tiredness, place the priority on the time and moments; instead of the stuff. The kids won’t notice if they got 5 gifts instead of 8. And if they do, it’s time to focus on other things maybe :-)
We’ll still get our gingerbread cookies made – even if it’s on January 5th. That’s not because we have to, but because the four of us have so much fun decorating and spending time together.
Wishing you and yours presence over the next week. I wish you sleep, peace and bits of joy that warm your heart.