Sunday, December 13, 2009

Busy December

As I've already written, I LOVE Christmas. I think I've made that abundantly clear. And I therefore love December. I do not love the stress of December. It seems as soon as December begins, the hectic pace begins. There was the piano recital, the office party, the 5 Christmas concerts we will have attended, getting the Christmas tree, decorating the Christmas tree, coordinating family gatherings for Christmas, all on top of our regular family schedule of work, school, volunteering, homework, piano lessons, basketball practice, and church commitments. This is not even taking into account Christmas SHOPPING and Christmas BAKING, and the other things that the children have decided that, since we've done them once, they are traditions. Like making a gingerbread house. That is on the to-do list for after school ends.

This year is different. This year I am a 100% stay-at-home Mom. It has made a world of difference. I don't have 15-20 other little ones for whom I feel bound to make Christmas special as well as my own two darlings. No Christmas concert to plan. No "last day Christmas pajama party" to prepare for. No Christmas crafts to research and get ready to guide little hands through. I have to admit that I do miss a lot of this, but it clearly did add to my "December stress". There are at least a hundred things that are usually on my December schedule that are not this year. And I have so much TIME to do all the million things that do need to be done!
So this year I am making a conscious effort to ENJOY this beautiful season, and all that goes with it. This afternoon is a perfect example: Sunday afternoon, and there are lots of gifts to be wrapped and plenty of baking to do. But I didn't. I decided that while my children were happy playing outside (and later watching the latest Christmas "Veggietale"), and my husband was busy working so he'll be able to take time off over Christmas, I would allow myself to sit by my Christmas tree and get lost in a book. It was heavenly! It didn't feel like "busy December". It felt like a peaceful Sunday afternoon! I don't think I can remember having one of those in December!

Tomorrow morning I'll wrap gifts, run out to a store or two, maybe even start some Christmas baking. And I'll enjoy it, because I won't be in a panic. And I'll appreciate it, because I understand the stress working moms are under. Who knows if I'll have a December like this again, so I'm going to love it while I can. And next Friday, when the kids come home from school excited and ready to celebrate the season, I'll be ready to celebrate it with them (I hope!) This will be our last Christmas in this house, and we're going to make it a Christmas to remember.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

I LOVE Christmas! I would start singing carols and trimming my house in early November if it were up to me. I love the warm feeling that the smell of evergreen, the glow of candlelight, the sound of "O Holy Night" and the taste of peppermint hot cocoa brings. I even like Christmas shopping! The bustle of like-minded people crowding holly-decked stores while the strains of Amy Grant's Christmas album (one of the four) beckon faintly through the hubbub — well, it energizes me! I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!!

Unfortunately, I live with Scrooge. He is a sweet and adorable Scrooge, but undeniably a Scrooge nonetheless. He doesn't like any hint of Christmas to enter his sphere of reference before December 1st. Christmas music in November? Humbug! Red and green decorating the house? Not yet! Dragging him to a shopping mall during the festive season is a painful experience for all involved — limited to once a year at most! And any mention of that most profane of all four-letter-words (SNOW) sends him spiraling into a depression.

So I have to be covert about it. I dig out the Christmas CDs about mid-November and listen to them through the day when he isn't home. The kids and I starting reading our millions of Christmas books around American Thanksgiving. And then the decorations start coming out. A few here and there, so he might not notice (I try to leave the snowmen for last).

But this year, I have to admit, my darling Ebenezer has been somewhat gracious about Yuletide preparations. We went Christmas shopping a couple of times in November, and he hardly complained, even admitting it might be a better time to do it, with smaller crowds and more selection (although he was drained of all energy afterward, as if I had forced him to endure some inhumane ritual!) He has been adament about "No Christmas Music when I'm around", but he made me some MP3 CDs of my favourite Christmas albums, so I can put one on the new Ipod/CD players and just let it play all day. He only made a passing mention of the first decorations I put out (one being a countdown to Christmas clock, which he didn't really appreciate). And when I suggested surprising the kids by putting up the downstairs "kids tree" on November 30, he was all for it! So I did, and subsequently decorated the whole house with my favourite Christmas trinkets. When he came home there was the comment that "it sure is Christmas-y in here", but no real complaints. He even agreed to go get the real tree next week before my parents arrive for a weekend visit. Maybe there is a small bit of Christmas spirit lurking somewhere inside that stony exterior.

My husband and I have had different experiences to shape our appreciation of the Christmas holidays. But he knows how very much I love this season, and as much as I feel the chasm of difference between us, I know he tries. And knowing this makes me love and appreciate him all the more! He knows that at this stage of our lives the most important part of Christmas is what we make it for our children: a celebration of the most important Birth our world has known, and an opportunity to worship joyfully while expressing love to those we hold dear. Yes, for them it is still about the presents and parades and decorations and Santa, despite how many times a day I remind them of WHY we are celebrating. I know that they understand that at our house Christmas isn't about Santa, it's about Jesus. And that isn't because I start playing carols in November. It's because they are lucky enough to have a Mom and Dad who agree about what celebrating Christmas means — even if our calendars are a little off!

I love you, Honey! Merry Christmas!