Oh, hey there!
How is life for you on this day, exactly two weeks before Christmas?
Anyone else feeling particularly nostalgic, introspective, and reflective? Or all three (like yours truly)? It's that time of year, I think. When you consider where you are and where you want to be. What kind of Christmas you want to celebrate and how you want to spend your pennies.
Last year we buckled down and stuck to a budget. We informed family and friends that we wanted to keep it simple. We worked to eliminate the meaningless stuff that serves to complicate our lives and crowd our home. And while not everyone respected our wants and wishes, most did. That year will always stand out as decidedly peaceful.
This year we lost our footing. I chalk it up to two things:
1// We had a big year and I didn't have the mental fortitude to fight the good fight. Although I still believe in the cause, living with less and simplifying, I decided to pick my battles. As a result, I have noticed that the unnecessary holiday stress I sought to avoid by simplifying has crept back into my life. Which suggests that taking a stance, albeit a big energy-expending one, prevented all the little stresses that trickle downstream. When you simplify, the money worries, resentments, and gift equality hangups go away. It seems I traded a big issue for many smaller ones. Lesson learned.
2// We are having an out-of-town Christmas. This year we are taking a trek up to Montana to spend the holiday week with Mario's family. This is the first time we've spent Christmas Day with others in 10 years, so we were ill-prepared when it came to approaching gift giving. I feel pressure to put a present under the tree for everyone (in addition to buying said tree), and any sort of balance was lost in the process. Add to that a last minute plan to organize gifting that was poorly communicated, and I have total confusion on my hands. When you live halfway across the country, sending a small family gift feels like enough... so why doesn't it when presented in person?
Mario and I are fundamentally different when it comes to Christmas. He cares little for budgets and worries not about an overabundance of gifts. The more the merrier. I love that about him, his spirit of giving, but I often feel alone in my fight for less. We have yet to find the perfect middle ground, and this was simply not the year to try and find it.
I'm also finding myself a tad anxious about celebrating with others. Kiddo is getting older, and our Christmases as a family of three are feeling numbered. I have a confession to make: I'm not sure I want to share it with other people. That introverted, fiercely nostalgic part of me wants Christmas morning all to myself. Just the boys and me, hot drink in hand, Christmas tunes in the background, watching each other open our stockings and gifts. To me, those precious hours are sacred and private and meant for just the three of us. Oh, the selfishness I feel!
In the end, putting myself out there, although uncomfortable, is good. It's about compromise and embracing change. Acknowledging these feelings is an important part of the process. The process of how we approach Christmas (socially and financially), and how I choose to view my situation. Because attitude is a choice.
Instead of focusing on what overwhelms me, I'm finding ways to lessen the stress of the holidays. It's not too late to regain my composure! Kiddo and I made the bold choice to forgo our Christmas tree this year. There have been pangs of uncertainty, sure, but it is mostly a relief. With Mario in SoCal working, and the holiday spent elsewhere, the thought of putting it up this weekend, just to take it down after we get back was too much. Instead, we've chosen to decorate the outside of the house and create a festive mantle. It's good to let yourself off the hook now and again, a realization that comes more often with age and life experience (thank goodness!).
Tomorrow Mario returns from his business trip. He's been gone since last Saturday, and whenever these things involve weekends they feel especially long. I've been fighting a cold bug, and feeling off, and Kiddo seems ready for the holiday break. He's weary in the subtle way a mother can tell.
And while it's easy to stay in all day, wrapping presents and binge-watching shows on Netflix, the real world calls to me. It is telling me to get out of my head and my funk. To shake the stink off and enjoy the magic that comes with the holidays. There are window displays, cozy sweaters and hot drinks to be enjoyed! Wallowing is quite unattractive and leads to forehead wrinkles, I remind myself.
So goes the story of how I let the noise in. Again. Don't do it. Learn from me.
Also, here are some wise words on simplifying Christmas. I can't tell you how many times she has written a post on the very day I needed to read it most.