So for the past fifteen years, I’ve been hosting Christmas Eve. It’s a night filled with food & family, of music & merriment. I look forward to it…oh, starting sometime in May.
Just a day or so before Christmas Eve, the baking begins; it’s tradition. My mom comes over and we bake – and bake – until every last cookie has been frosted and sprinkled. Then we sit and talk about Christmases gone by, and memories we’ve made over the years. It’s my favorite part of the holiday.
But along with the food, and the fun, and the merriment…is the stress. Specifically, Christmas Day stress. It’s not getting up at the crack of dawn, blurry-eyed; running downstairs and lighting the tree, putting on the Christmas music and making the kids wait until I say, “Go!” and watching them run down the stairs to their stockings.
It’s not the torn open wrapping paper, tossed in the air like confetti, or the overstuffed trash bags filled with ribbons and bows.
Nope – it’s the stress of being on a time-crunch. Open the presents. Check. Get ready for church. Check. Head to the in-laws. Check. Get home to let the dog out. Check. Pack up and go to my brother’s. Check.
We are out of the house by 9 a.m. and not home until after 7 p.m. I feel like we spend the day rushing to the next place and every year I vow to never do it again. But then again…it’s tradition. It’s what we do.
But not this year.
This year I had a fantasy that we woke up, opened presents and took our time. This fantasy included going to the, dare I say, late Mass…the 11:00 a.m. Mass…and then, wait what? Come home.
And then, we could invite the in-laws over for an afternoon of food & drink, where we can take our time, enjoy their company, and not squeeze them in-between church and the next event.
Later in the day, we could head over to my brother’s house for dessert.
It sounded perfect. A day of being in our own home, enjoying our Christmas together, without rushing around, without the time-crunch. Sitting by the fire, looking at our tree, and taking it all in.
Of course, when I voiced it out loud, there was some push back. The kids enjoy going to the family party at my brother’s house. They enjoy the chaos of the day. And my mom was disappointed that we wouldn’t be having Christmas dinner all together.
I almost caved. I almost gave in to what everyone else wanted and expected of me, of us.
But then I thought back to my fantasy of what Christmas could be…the relaxing…the stress-free…
So that’s what we’re gonna do.
It’s okay to say “No” – even on Christmas Day. It’s okay to put yourself and the needs of your family first. It’s okay to just…not.
Whatever your plans are, remember to take it all in. The sights and sounds, the scents…capture it all, because it goes by in the blink of an eye.
But know this is your holiday, too. And it’s okay to say ‘no’ —
Merry Christmas from my family to yours.