Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Three Christmases

One good thing about an artificial tree is that
it can be put up any time.
We picked my daughter up from college last Friday. On Saturday, she baked cookies and attended a family party with my husband. I stayed behind because the party venue had cats (I'm allergic) and my own home venue was festively adorned with end-of-semester papers to be graded. Since then, my college kid has gone shopping, wrapped gifts, visited with friends and exercised her right to stay up late and sleep in. 

Back in November, before my daughter returned to school from Thanksgiving break, my husband suggested that we put up the tree. In fact, he made this suggestion even before she came home. I pooh-poohed him -- put the tree up in November? Long story short, he was right. We put it up the Friday after Thanksgiving, all together as a family, and it has been lit every day since. In the intervening time, my husband has put up outside lights, purchased and wrapped gifts and written his portion of the Christmas cards.

Which brings me to the third Christmas.

Since last Friday, I've graded stacks of papers, administered a final, graded more stacks of papers and calculated grades. In between, I've written a Christmas letter and a few cards, wrapped a few gifts, tried to keep the competing Christmas and end-of-semester piles in check, done some online shopping and basically tried to fit Christmas into the cracks of the end-of-semester stuff while ignoring the date on the calendar. If I take my blinders off and truly consider how much I need to do in the next three days, I will be unfit to live with.

So, I keep checking things off. My family helps (see "she baked cookies" and "his portion of the Christmas cards" above) and will help even more if I just ask them. The problem is, my lists are in my head and I don't completely -- hang on a second, I want to text my husband and ask him if he can pick something up --

Know what I need to have done.

And that's pretty much how my brain is working right now.

Chipping away at things really does work for me, but there are times when it drives those around me (okay, my husband) a little crazy. And, to be honest, there are times that I question its efficacy. I was just telling a friend this morning that in the muddled middle -- when it's all started and nothing is finished -- this idea of dedicating a little bit of time to everything, rather than tackling one task from start to finish, can feel foolish and overwhelming.

Then again, this time of year seems to feel like that no matter what plan I have in place. It's all too easy to let the lists expand to not only fill, but also overflow the time available, and to forget that more isn't necessarily better. 

Chipping away helps me dial it back, but I'm thinking I also need to make better use of my available resources. For some reason, it's just now occurring to me that my family has reached the stage where it  consists of three adults. That I can text my husband or my daughter and say, "hey, would you mind...?"

Photo: Ponce Photography via Pixabay

That I don't have to do Christmas all by myself. 

Which is a good thing. Because without them, I'm pretty sure Christmas at our house would come sometime in January. 

Okay, I'm kidding. Sort of.

So, as you deck the halls, keep in mind that this is supposed to be fun. That the anxiety, as one of our priests reminded us in the homily on Sunday, is of our own making. Keep the lists minimal so you can maximize the time you spend doing things you love with people you love.

'Tis the season, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment