Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Holiday Stress (and a Tip)
I love the holidays. I DO NOT love the stress I feel when preparing for them.
[I am also happy to report that I am feeling much less stressed this year than last year. I think this is mostly because my in-laws will not be coming to my home for Christmas as they did last year (I fed 24 adults and 4 children last Christmas). Oh yeah, I am also not pregnant and totally hormonal this year either. Take my advice, it's not a winning combination.]
First, I realize that this stress is self-induced, mostly. I compare what I do to what I think is the 'perfect' way (mostly Martha-esque kind of stuff). And, well, I always come up short as far as that goes. I feel like the memories that my children and family have of Christmas are up to me and me alone to make 1)joyous, 2) meaningful, and 3)positive experiences for everyone.
I am not saying that my darling husband doesn't help. He is awesome at pitching in and getting things cleaned up before guests come over. That alone is a huge weight off my shoulders. However, his idea of clean and mine are not always the same. Here is a great example. RM was off last Friday and told me he would clean the house for our Sunday School party progressive dinner on Saturday night (we were hosting dessert). So, I went to work slightly relieved that I would not have to stay up all night cleaning. When I got home, he had worked hard all day. He cleaned the front and screened in porches and scrubbed a rug and had it hanging to dry.
The rest of the house had not been touched. Seriously. Toys and books were strewn about. The laundry was stacked beside the washer, still dirty. Dishes were dirty and in the sink and half empty coffee cups were distributed through just about every room downstairs. I am happy to report that I did not have a stroke at that moment. I even smiled and thanked him for his hard work (on rooms that no one would probably even go into). Then I locked myself in the bathroom and had a breakdown. No lie.
Then, I cleaned like mad and was able to have the downstairs (excluding the airplane work room which I can not even write about here without taking Valium) clean and dusted by noon on Saturday. RM worked outside on a plumbing issue he discovered and thank the Good Lord we did not have to call an emergency plumber. RM did mop the floors and clean the bathrooms after he and THE Princess took their nap, and that was awesome. The man can use some bleach like nobody I know.
I cooked until we dropped the kids off at the nursery and got it all done! Although I had a hard time relaxing and enjoying the first two courses because of my anxiousness about having dessert ready when everyone arrived. And, I need to let it be known that I really love to host and cook for others. I like the planning for that. I like the cooking. I like using fancy dishes and polishing the silver to serve it on.
[If you ever need to polish silver, you should know about this. Take a huge pot and line it with aluminum foil. Put in a couple tablespoons of baking soda and fill with water to cover the object that needs to be polished. Bring to a boil. Make sure the silver object isn't dirty (wipe off any gunk) and submerge so that it is covered with water and also touches the foil. Leave for about 2 minutes. Pull it out with tongs and the tarnish should be mostly gone. Put it back in if necessary. Replace the foil when it stops taking the tarnish off. Dry with a soft cloth.
So, back to the Christmas experience. I am the one who plans, shops and creates the gifts, sends out the cards, decorates the house (RM does assemble our fake tree and carry the boxes). I wrap everything. I make sure no one in the extended family is forgotten. I plan and schedule attending events. And I love doing it, but it does stress me out.
I would love to deligate some of these jobs. But, I know what will happen. On Christmas Eve RM would be running through the mall purchasing gifts on the credit card and paying to have them wrapped. People would be forgotten. The stockings would hang empty on the mantle. The food would be take-out or purchased from Publix to the tune of more and more money. Gifts would be mailed around New Years, if at all. There would be no holiday parties. And the house would have clean floors (which I would enjoy) and nothing else.
Is this a purposeful method that people use? Sometimes I think so. Because, if they do it badly once, then they won't be asked to do it again. And of course, I can't stand to watch it be done badly. So, I jump in with both feet.
And, as I was telling RM my theory last night he said, "Honey, I love that you are creative. Just not screaming, crying, lunatic creative. I like the smiling, crafting, happy creative." And so do I.
So, tell me, how do you make your holidays less stressful? Or, do you just freak out like I do? 'Tis the season, right?