At some point on Thanksgiving Day, Court said (as I think I have heard him say every Thanksgiving Day since he became an adult), “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s no stress about presents and decorations and outdoor lights. It’s just food and family.”
And as I have every year when he has said it, I silently agreed.
But when and why did Christmas become so stressful?
Oh, who am I kidding? Christmas has always been stressful, at least as long as I have lived. It’s true I didn’t find Christmas terribly stressful when I was a child, but I would bet my mother did. With four children for whom to shop, and having no sisters around to help her prepare Christmas Eve dinner or the Christmas Day turkey dinner, I’m sure she was stressed as well.
And Christmas season at the bakery was incredibly hectic, what with Christmas sugar cookies, candy, and butter braid added to the already busy mix. Now we didn’t just close up the bread bags. We added curly ribbon.
What I do know about my childhood Christmases is that the season started later, and the now-seemingly-unending marketing campaign wasn’t nearly as prevalent back then. And, of course, there wasn’t the Elf-on-the-Shelf to worry about as well. (I wrote about the Elf last year. Trouble-maker. Tattletale. All-around pain the in the behind.)
One of the main differences, I think, is that there is just so much more AVAILABLE these days. When I was little, I had a Tiny Tears doll (who was remarkable because she cried “real” tears after you fed her water in a bottle), a bride doll (who did nothing but sit on my bed as a decoration), and when I was a bit older, a doll that I called my big doll (she was maybe two feet tall) and who accompanied me to the hospital when I had surgery at age 7. I just don’t think there were that many options available.
Nowadays the number of available dolls is nearly endless. I won’t even try to name them all. However, Jen bought her granddaughter Lilly a Baby Alive doll when she was in AZ recently, and it was a complete FAIL. Two-year-old Lilly immediately shoved all of the so-called food into Baby Alive’s mouth, and Baby Alive – whose sole function, I believe, is to poop out that food – didn’t. To Walmart’s credit, they accepted Baby Alive (who by then should have been called Baby Puke because food was coming out of her mouth as opposed to, well, you know) no questions asked. Jen replaced her with a dolly with plastic hair, and Lilly seemed to like her every bit as well.
As is true with almost everything, however, we can make Christmas season as simple or as stressful as we choose. This year as Bill and I put up our Christmas lights outside, I made a decision that next year I was going to forgo the lights in favor of simply setting up angels or a Santa and reindeer that do nothing but sit on my front yard and light up. I won’t like it quite as well (I am embarrassed to tell you just how much I love to see my colored lights on my front bushes), but it will be infinitely easier.
But the real answer, I think, is that we just need to consciously make our holiday simpler. In the past few days, I have mentioned my angel tree that we keep in our living room in front of the window. For years, I also put up a Christmas tree in our family room with all the ornaments I collected over the years. A few years ago, I decided that was too much work because we take down all of our Christmas decorations on Christmas Eve so our house is neutralized before we leave for AZ on Christmas Day. But last year, I decided that I missed those lights in the room in which we actually spend time, so I went out and bought a little tabletop tree. I can put it up myself in about a minute-and-a-half. It makes me very happy as I put on my favorite ornaments that I’ve collected over the years….
Despite all I’ve said above, I admit that I love all of the festivities surrounding Christmas. I will, therefore, bake Christmas cookies as usual. I will sing along with my Christmas music. And I will enjoy my days with my loved ones. I will just make a bit more of an effort to remember why we celebrate Christmas at all.
This post linked to Grammy’s Grid.