© Pilar Echeverria | Dreamstime.com
...to feel harried. No matter how solemnly I promise myself that I will not get stressed out or depressed in the holiday season it always seems to happen. Maybe it’s the mall (I like to blame everything on malls), which I so expertly avoid all the rest of the time. Maybe it’s the winding down of the year, and the knowledge that once again I’ve not accomplished even a quarter of what I set out to do. Maybe it’s the impending start of a New Year, and the realization that another year has gone by and I still haven’t straightened up my home office.
Or…maybe it’s just that holidays put an inordinate amount of stress on mothers (or that during holidays mothers put an inordinate amount of stress on themselves). I learned this trick from my own mom (bless her soul), who up until the last Christmas of her life hosted the holiday for the entire family (not that I want to blame my mom for what was basically a lifelong devotion to her kids and grandkids). But she did set the bar pretty high. There was nary a store-bought piecrust to be seen (everything made from scratch), and as for presents—everyone got something requiring thought and care. No gift cards, no cash, no easy way out. She was not a perfectionist by any means, but she did shop and bake with love.
Of course, I rationalize, my mother was what was then called (and maybe still is) a “home-maker.” She didn’t work outside the home, nor did she have a home-based business. Today, such moms seem to be few and far between. Most of us are doing something to make money and keep our families afloat besides--or in addition to--baking brownies and attending PTA meetings (but if that is what you do, more power to you!).
In any case, this is the time of year when I have to remember that it’s okay to take shortcuts. I can order my Christmas cookies from a bakery (or pray that my pastry-chef niece will send some), I can use the Internet for choosing presents or gift cards, I can buy a bag of frozen green beans. (I draw the line at the piecrusts, though…in my mother’s honor!)
So before the stress gets out of hand, I must remind myself (and maybe you must, too) that it’s the time of year when we need to take a deep breath, be grateful for what we have, think presence not presents, and realize that the memory of a calm and loving holiday will stay with our kids and families long after the gifts are forgotten.