Halfway through Christmas Day’s Zoom extravaganza, I had a (fleeting) moment of empathy for our outgoing president. He appears to constantly inflict self-harm on himself by believing there is something lacking despite being given everything. This insecurity, beyond being exhausting, must be far worse than any actual deprivation. The worry is always worse than the reality.
It seemed like an important lesson to try to teach them while they were young. Help them understand that they are good enough without a day filled with gifts. What they have is enough. What they are is enough.
What actually matters is what they do with it all.
Even though I didn’t step foot outside of the house yesterday, I was still exhausted and asleep by nine. It somehow managed to be both lazy and busy, stressful and sleepy. And we didn’t even hit the Jersey Turnpike.
After Thanksgiving, we kicked off the holiday season by checking out the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Festival of Trees. This annual fundraiser/raffle showcases dozens of decorated trees along with an impressive model railroad display.
There was a moment driving down after Christmas, somewhere around exit 9 on the turnpike, when we were snarled in another traffic jam, that I felt the frustration of being stuck almost boil over. I just wanted to get out of the car and get there as fast as possible. Then I stopped. Maybe it was the time of year. Maybe it was the stream of seemingly endless bad news even during Christmas. Maybe it was just the north Jersey fumes.
But I wondered why? What am I rushing to? What am I rushing from? Chances are it’s not as good as right now. At best, it’s uncertain. We are almost through the Santa magic years. Heck, we only have less than ten summers now where we are guaranteed to be together. What’s the rush?
So that has become my goal this week in the hinterlands between Christmas and New Years. Just slow down. Don’t rush through everything. Savor it. Whether it’s a traffic jam, a cookie, family drama, or the crankiness of kids staying up too late. Some day, someday soon probably, I’ll want it all back.
Only one more year until middle school. I might be okay with rushing through that.
It’s on. I flipped the switch at lunchtime on Friday. Time for some holiday parenting. A little less stern Dad and more friendly Uncle. A little more relaxed. A little less math review, a little less structure.
We won’t be abandoning all structure. Things tend to go smoother when Dad has at least a pencil sketch of a plan. So, they’ll still need to sleep occasionally and brush their teeth after their 37th cookie. There will be some organization and expectations. I won’t be throwing out the rules completely, but…it’s supposed to be happy holidays and I can’t drink wine and scotch from sunrise to sunset without at least a three hour nap in the middle of the day and that’s not really fair to Michelle.
Hopefully this will all lead to a little less stress and a little more happiness.
Worst case, it leads to Michelle and I eating more Christmas cookies with red wine at lunch.
One book that has unexpectedly stuck with me this year is Shonda Rhimes’ memoir Year of Yes. I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience. I’m not a woman. I’m not black. I’m not a mother. I’ve never even seen a minute of her shows. But I am a bit introverted and increasingly my default position for a great night is reading a book on the couch. Maybe I’d let the dog in the room with me. And a bottle of wine.
So when Michelle suggested, not just adding a side trip to DC, but also to NYC during our drive to see family over Thanksgiving, my knee jerk reaction was a hardy hell no. Nothing could be further from my comfy couch than Midtown Manhattan during Thanksgiving week. It all sounded like a recipe for a stress and anxiety milkshake.
Deep breath. Say yes. Let’s do this….
If you ask Ally, her Dad doesn’t like Christmas. For the record, I do like Christmas. I am not particularly fond of Christmas music and I’m really not fond of Christmas music in early November. I’ve had a ‘No Christmas Music Until after Thanksgiving’ rule in our house dating back to ’02. I like to enjoy one holiday at a time. The girls and their enabler of a mother like to try to find opportunities to sneak carols in, but I hold the line. The turkey has to be cool and the mashed potatoes covered in foil before I let those holiday playlists ring.
Of course, we have now crossed the Rubicon and the girls are delighting in assaulting my ears at every opportunity. I can only grin and bear and occasionally threaten to write Santa about their deviant behavior.