It is predictable, right around December 15th, I’ll write a post about how maybe things are slowing down a little, then I’ll not blog for several days because. Nope. Not slower. It is also common for me to write a December post where I’ll think out loud about how our Christmas traditions are different than they used to be, or how I’m trying to shift things and let go of the concept that Christmas is mine to create. Then come Christmas day, I’ll likely write a post about how it all turned out fine despite the fact that I thought I was ruining everything. The refrains are all familiar, rather like the Christmas carols which fill the air. I have these variations on the same emotional tunes played out year after year.
Perhaps that is why this year I haven’t played many carols, or really done much of anything to consciously create a Christmas mood in my house. I put up lights. I put up the tree. These things make me happy, but other than that I’ve been letting the holiday exist or not without much effort from me. Naturally this has resulted in a vague guilt that I ought to be doing more, or perhaps a vague regret that my days are spent just keeping all the necessary parts of our business, educational, and household things running. I feel like it would be nice to do Christmas things, but I’m already over extended. So I let go of the things I can’t do and tell myself that it is okay. It has been a very long year and I’m worn out.
I’m discovering that small kindnesses mean much to me this Holiday season. A Christmas card from a friend I’ve failed to write for six months, a bag of treats from a neighbor who I used to speak to far more often, and email offering to help because I sounded tired or stressed in a blog post. I treasure these things because I’m not able to give such small kindnesses lately. I can see how little effort it would cost me to do similar small kind things. I feel like I ought to stretch far enough to write thank you notes, to stop by and say hello to a friend, to make a treat. I keep choosing not to. I’ve already extended and extended far beyond what I would have thought I could sustain last year. To do more is beyond me. I appreciate greatly when someone else offers me a piece of their time or energy. Small kindnesses are not insignificant.
I’m not particularly stressed in each individual day. When people ask me how I’m doing or how my day is going, I answer “good” without pause for thought. Because things are generally good. The kids are aimed in good directions for growth. We’ve had a good business year. Our many projects are coming along. We’d always like them to be coming along more quickly, but nothing is stalled. All of the things are good. There are just a lot of things and there have been all year long. It leaves me wanting to clear out and simplify rather than add the complications of Christmas celebrations. Proper celebrations come from a place of joy, not obligation. I have moments of that, when for some minutes or hours I’m glad for the holiday season and for family. Then I’m back to making sure all of the day’s things happen.
I think it will begin to feel like Christmas when the kids are out of school. Then I’ll take them shopping or to the movies. The feel of our house shifts during the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. I’m glad for it because it is good for me to step out of the regular necessities of our schedule. I also miss our regular routine and the happy feeling of getting work done. So the holiday season will begin for me on Friday, four days before Christmas. Which is about when it came together last year. Only last year I spent most of December feeling like I’d failed for not making Christmas permeate our house earlier. Perhaps my niggling regrets represent a step toward acceptance that Christmas now is different than it used to be and it is okay.