When I was in high school, I was part of the Singing Christmas Tree that our church put on every holiday season and we sang "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". And I truly believed it! I love so much about the holidays - from Halloween to New Years! The food! The gifts! The concerts! The parties! The parades! It's all so much fun!
Well, it was fun. When I was a teenager and even into my late 20s and early 30s, I valued the busyness of middle class life. If I was doing stuff, then I was important! I'm sure you can relate?! Or not so much?
Then real life caught up. All of the sudden the holidays became associated with bad memories - friends who died around Christmas time or other unpleasant things that happened. Chronic migraine entered my life and I couldn't participate in all the "fun" things that I was doing before. And I started to wonder if everyone was really enjoying themselves or if it was really all a big sham. Maybe the holidays really weren't all they were cracked up to be.
Here I am now, age 52, a week and a half before Thanksgiving with a house that desperately needs to be cleaned and a week-long migraine that shows no signs of breaking. And I found out that an old friend just died today (not unexpectedly). Things just aren't feeling very "merry and bright".
I guess the good news is that I've learned not to expect too much from the holidays anymore. I'm a big fan of Advent Conspiracy - Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, Love All.
I am finally getting the hang of the fact that busyness does not equal self-worth. Busyness just equals busyness.
So, here's my plan.
1. I may need to talk to my headache specialist about the chronic migraine. If I can't even manage to cook dinner a couple of nights a week, we need to do something.
2. Christmas gifts are almost all taken care of. We're not buying any more Christmas gift wrap because it's not recyclable. I'm pretty sure I have enough for several more years and then we are going to plain white or brown paper.
3. Christmas shopping is just about done this year. I went pretty minimalist this year because we're donating money to a family who is crowdfunding for surgery for their son that their insurance won't cover. Check this link for more details and I'm sure I'll write more in another post about it.
3. Thanksgiving menu is a Popeye's turkey that Lydia will pick up in Appleton for me next week and then side dishes that we make during the day on Thanksgiving. If I'm not up to cooking, Lydia and Patrick can read recipes. And Patrick can do the shopping a couple of days before.
4. We're putting up the Christmas tree as a family after Thanksgiving Dinner. I'll do the rest of the decorating (all indoors) gradually over the next weekend.
5. We have a couple of community Christmas events scheduled, so we'll go to those depending on how I feel, but we won't add anything extra to the schedule. And, since I'm really focusing on low-carb eating for my chronic migraine, I won't be doing much baking. But, I am looking forward to the community Christmas caroling and Lydia's community choir concert (Monte Verdi Chorale in Steven's Point).
6. We usually spread out our Christmas celebrations over several days. I actually don't know when we're going to have Christmas dinner because I don't know when Chris and Jenna are going to her family's dinner and when Chris and Lydia are working. Either way, the menu will be simple and something that everyone can help with if I'm having a bad day. But, we definitely have Christmas morning over here together. And I'm going to eat one or two Peanut Butter Cups.
7. And there's going to be lots of sitting around and enjoying the Christmas lights. And every year, I feel sad for the people we've lost around Christmas time and for the anniversary reactions of bad things that have happened around the holidays. They are normal feelings and I just need to give myself time to feel them. Sadness is normal. Those brain chemicals have as much right to my brain as any other.
8. I must give myself permission to not be busy. There is no benefit to anyone in this world for me to be always "on the go". In fact, being busy, contributes to my chronic migraine, so it is to my benefit to make time in my day to relax, knit, read, or just sit.
9. My goal is to love people. Being busy doesn't translate well to loving others. My best option is to create a comfortable atmosphere wherever I am to show Jesus' love for the world. After all, that's what Christmas is about. Jesus was never busy. He didn't run around in a dither. He always seemed to know the next best thing to do. As we celebrate the coming of Jesus in this time of year, I want to rest in knowing that Jesus is OK with me and doesn't need me rushing around. I can rest. So can you.
How are you managing your holiday stress this year?