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Monday, December 14, 2015

holidays and stress and letting go

Last week at some point I hit a wall. Not actually a wall. I mean, metaphorically speaking. Just to clarify.

In any case.


Christmas lists swirling in my head.

Family to buy for and this year, shipping time and costs have to be factored in to the stress.

The middle of December and ZERO shopping done. ZERO expendable dollars. ZERO time for shopping.

How? WHEN? HOW? WHEN???? HOW??????

And the busy of our current life meant that our traditions (advent readings, stories of festivals around the world, Christmas crafts, going to all the community events, present making, Christmas baking, etc) were all going out the window.

I shut myself up in the bathroom and outright sobbed.


And sobbed.

I don't know why the holidays do this to me. The expectations? The wanting to have it all work out? Wanting to please everyone? Not leaving any space in life to breathe and just be?

I don't know.

But I know other people out there struggle too. A dear friend confessed on the phone the same. We don't even have a tree and I don't know when we will have time to get one. I want our family to have all the memories of holidays that I grew up with, but how?

Its different when its YOU making it happen for your little ones. Oh my gosh is it ever.

So after sobbing. And sleeping. I get up the next day and realize I need to follow the advice I give other moms in rough patches of life.

Lower your expectations.

Not in a bad sort of way. Not in a giving up sort of way. But, in a graceful way. Graceful to yourself. Because you are worth it. YOU ARE MAMAS! YOU ARE SARA!

Sending off a few thoughtful items that arrive last minute to family on the mainland...that's okay.

Not celebrating Santa Lucia Day with homemade saffron rolls and wreaths of candles.

That's okay too.

Not making it to all the holiday events scattered around the island.

It isn't going to mean the world ends.

All the damn handmade pinterest Christmas pins I torture myself with every year.

That's for another Christmas. Not the one where I am (painfully) pregnant and dada is working crazy hours and we live in a totally new place without closets of crafting supplies.

Another year.

Like, when the girls can get up and make me coffee and the Santa Lucia rolls themselves. HA.

And I work hard to push away the stress of the unknown (HOW IS THIS GOING TO WORK OUT?)

But still, its hard. Stress that eats you at night.

Side story: When I worked in Iraq (2005, pre-kids) we were warned about the two most dangerous parts of entering into the country. The descent in the airplane down to the landing strip (the plane was an easy target for surface to air missiles) and the trip down the main highway from the airport to the protected international zone (where cars often targeted armoured convoys like ours). My first time in I made a decision. I closed my eyes and imagined a wall going down around the thoughts of disaster, of bad things happening. And shut it out. Just not even a possibility. Just not going to go there.

It worked. It was still nervewracking, sure, but any thought of any big bad things happening, I refused to entertain them.

This technique is a sanity saver for people like me who tend to the worry/overthinking side. I did the same in each labor. With each pregnancy. Which were all hard (as my readers know) in their different ways.

Where am I going with this?

I found myself doing the same thing with my worry and stress, that next morning.

I am not going to think about all that. I don't know how and when it will all get done, or, beyond Christmas, how the rest of it will fall into place. We need a new car big enough for baby. Life is crazy now...BABY??? ACK?? etc. etc. etc.

Because if you don't reel in the worry, it consumes you. It becomes your master. It owns you. And it robs you of your joy, and joy aside, it can rob you of your ability to simply function!

So, I laughed at my kids at the Christmas parade, as they delighted in scads of candy thrown their way, and the hula dancers dancing to Christmas carols, and the unreal scene of the sun setting over the ocean in the background. And today we are making gingerbread houses (using up scads of leftover candy, YES.) and we will read some Christmas stories and just be this week.

I'm going to have my moments. I still do.

We all do. But it doesn't make us horrible. It makes us human. Susceptible to the pressures of life.

It just means we need to work at dropping that curtain, letting the big picture worry not take us away from the Season of Love. The Season of Family. Joy. Miracles.

And it means we need to give ourselves the gift of grace. No one is expecting us to be all and do all. Just to be.

But now. Now, I must gather all my strength and patience and Christmas goodwill. I have been informed the frosting on our graham cracker houses are dry and ready for candy and decorating madness.

God bless us, everyone. 

Holy sticky candy Batman. Not sure if there's more candy on the houses, the floors, or in the children. Did I mention we have ants lately? Bad? This is going to be interesting. 


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