January 2 might seem like an odd time to be writing about Christmas, but this isn’t altogether about Christmas, it’s about a bigger thing. It’s about finding a way to stay sane when things outside of our control are stressing us out (which does happen around Christmastime, but around the year too).
Like everyone else I run myself ragged from about Thanksgiving to Christmas, planning holiday dinners, gift buying, decorating, Elf on The Shelf manoeuvering, etc, etc, all the while trying to juggle the daily hassles of daycare, work, meals, doctor’s visits and such. I often wonder what the point of it all is. To me the holidays are about spending quality time with my family and loved ones, and going crazy trying to keep up with everything else just seems counterproductive. How can you enjoy any part of the holidays if you’re tied to the stove, tangled up with tinsel, stressed out about gifts, and just generally trying to hold it all together?
This past Christmas we were forced to slow it all down and in fact we cancelled our holiday dinner. After weeks and weeks of both kids being sick with croup, ear infections, colds and coughs, my little guys was finally diagnosed with walking pneumonia on Christmas Eve. This, after no less than four appointments in a two week span. His sister thankfully just had a common cold. The doctor jinxed me by exclaiming that it was a wonder I hadn’t gotten sick from the kids. Well, guess what happened the next day? I woke up feeling like death warmed over.
My initial plan had been to cook Christmas dinner on the 24th since I grew up celebrating on Christmas eve. But after first spending several hours at the doctor’s office with both kids on the preceding Friday, and then again on Christmas Eve with my little guy who had gone downhill despite being on a nebulizer and an inhaler, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to cook a holiday dinner. We were invited to spend Christmas Day with the hub’s aunt and uncle but I just didn’t think it was fair to bring the gift of illness to their house. The hubs and Little Missy did end up going because they didn’t feel quite as sick as the rest of us (including my mom, who is visiting and has pretty much been sick since she arrived). To be honest, I can’t even remember what we ate during those two days. I know I didn’t cook anything significant and I know the kids were not eating, period. Don’t get me wrong. We still enjoyed the Holidays, as much as one can dealing with a house full of sick people. The decorations were up and Little Missy was anxiously waiting for Santa and enjoying searching for the Elf every morning (who on many nights had been too tired to make the trip to Santa and was found in the same spot as the previous day). We opened presents on Christmas Morning and the kids actually let us sleep in until about 8, probably being exhausted from being so sick. The kids didn’t know there was “supposed” to be a special dinner and they wouldn’t have eaten any of it anyway, had I made it.
So, in the end, despite being sick and exhausted and not having a Christmas dinner we had a special holiday without the stress associated with the expected hours of cooking and cleaning. I cooked up the Brussels sprouts and green beans I had planned for Chistmas over the weekend and served them with some pasta and chicken. Then I made the Christmas ham on New Year’s Eve with mashed potatoes and stuffing and heated up left over vegetables. There was no stress and we had a lovely New Year’s Eve dinner. I think I may take some lessons from this year’s experience and use them next year. Our Christmas dinner does not need to be extravagant, as long as we’re together and happy, and we can save the ham or roast or what have you for another meal which can be special all on its own without the pressure of pulling off the perfect meal. The holidays are what you make it, so take it from me, don’t stress over them. You’ll be glad you didn’t.
P.S. Despite the title of this post, we still haven’t eaten our Christmas cake!