The Seventh Day of Griefmas: Keeping the Christmas Train on the Rails

If you know me, you know that Christmas at my house is a bloody mess: the floor has usually not been washed since Thanksgiving, the tree is barricaded behind the coffee table to discourage the adventurous two-year-old from  climbing it like a cat; the decorations are few, and are perched precariously on top of the junk piles that anchor my “hoarder-chic” theme, and bits of my hair have fallen like a salt-and-pepper snow of anxiety over everything.

Although I can generally keep my housekeeping shame to myself (except when I’m blurting about it), the part of my Christmas shame that becomes obvious is my failure to gather and give presents.

Part of the problem is financial, but most of it is attentional. I start my lists nice and early in November, with huge amounts of anxiety over my budget and doubt in my ability to choose attractive gifts… and then forget to plan time for shopping. With the presents that I manage to buy, I often forget to bring them along when I visit the giftee. I get so overwhelmed attempting to wrangle all the factors that I waste money, forget people, and generally come off like I don’t care.

I know that the year I finally make peace with Christmas, everything will fall into place. In the meantime, I’m sad, ridiculous and struggling.

If you are in this boat, here’s a commiserating hug. Let’s promise ourselves that no matter how far we stray from the perfect-looking Christmas, we will drill down to the core of what matters to us most, and make sure that we do what really needs to be done.

For me, that’s making sure my kids have something to open on Christmas morning, and that we spend time with all of their grandparents.

This year, as my writing business picks up steam and demands more of my limited energy, I also need to discipline myself to put my laptop away and spend time with my husband and our girls. In past years, this has meant skating at our community park, and after-dinner walks to look at all the lights in our neighbourhood. This year, it might just mean curling up together in the living room to watch the Grinch as many times as possible before Boxing Day. The important part is just being together.

Tonight, as you think about what your bottom line priorities are, I will leave you with some pieces from other wonderful writers about their attempts to celebrate.

The Bloggess – I’m Not Ready

The Wing of Madness – Depression and the Holidays

I hope you give yourself tons of credit for the important things you achieve, lots of support for the things that kick your ass, and lots of grace for the things you need to let go.

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4 thoughts on “The Seventh Day of Griefmas: Keeping the Christmas Train on the Rails”

  1. Wait, your floors were washed at Thanksgiving?! Now I’m ashamed of my floors, which are generally spot-cleaned. (Seriously, I don’t want to admit the last time I actually mopped.)

    I hear you on the stressed/wasting money on presents & work/life balance thing. I’ve been trying to do a simple thing for the kids each day (note, this does NOT mean I’m necessarily “doing” with them). A few nights I’ve just let them have hot cocoa and watch an xmas movie. (The full HD version of “The Snowman” is on Youtube, and is super cute, as long as your girls can handle the sort of sad ending – the snowman melts at the end. 🙁 Maybe follow it up with the Frosty/Santa explanation of he comes back every year with the xmas snow?) One night we just drove around looking at lights. I wrapped gifts with Munchkin (his gifts to others) the other night. Seriously small and simple things, and they’re happy. (I’m finding anything involving sugar seems to be a hit, predictably. *laugh*)

    Hugs to you, and if you really start feeling terrible about your floors, ping me… and I’ll tell you how long it’s really been since I mopped!

    1. Dakota – I totally took your advice about making last night special by adding sugar. Worked like a charm. 😉 Maybe that’s the real meaning of Christmas… coming together around the cookie tray at a time when we are all worn down and starving for light.

  2. Floors- mine will get mopped before a herd of people arrive on the 24th. I have small dogs that track in wetness so I simply blame them. Trust me- no one cares about floors- or perhaps the right people don’t care about floors? Your presence is the real gift- let’s all remember that. Hugs

    1. Thanks, Sue! It’s honestly hard to remember the point of having people over right now, but I’m sure you’re right – if I can shove aside my self-criticism, maybe I can be welcoming. That’s what I’m going to aim for.

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