Saturday, December 13, 2014

It's Coming on Christmas . . . .


"It's coming on Christmas. They're cutting down trees. They're putting up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace."


                                           
I love Christmas and have a hard time understanding why so many people are so cranky at this time of the year, saying they dread the holidays. I read somewhere that more than 20% of Americans find the holidays more stressful than enjoyable. According to surveys, Christmas is right up there at the top of the list of things that cause us stress. It's not difficult to understand stress that's caused by the loss of a job or a loved one, or health issues. But stress just because it's Christmas? What gives? I know that the holidays can be a difficult time for many people. It's hard to avoid feeling full of stress or even sadness during the Christmas season. I still always miss my mother around this time of year.


I'm not nearly done decorating yet - I always struggle with this. There's still so much to do to get ready to celebrate and I scramble to get it all finished. Making attempts to create the "perfect" holiday for my family while avoiding the rampant commercialism all around us.


Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas. I still love all the craziness, the shopping, the decorating, the cooking, the snow - if we're lucky.  If I choose to, I can make all of that stressful. But I won't and long ago decided that what I love most of all about Christmas is feeling blessed to be with family and having good friends to share it with. And, as I get older, that's what I know I need to focus on, not worrying about buying gazillions of presents. 

                               

When I was very young I knew that, once it began to snow, Christmas couldn't be too far away, and I haven't forgotten that magical feeling. I've always tried hard to recreate it for my children. And I now truly appreciate all of the work my mom did to make Christmas magical and special for me and my four sisters, despite any hardships she may have faced. We always had a wonderful Christmas because it was so full of love and laughter. (And there was always a special doll under the tree too, of course. That always helped, LOL. )

                                    

For the past few years I've been doing better as far as rolling with things instead of feeling anxious about everything I have to do to. If certain things don't get done, then - oh well. It's also easier because my kids are grown. I don't have to wait in line at Toy R Us anymore. I made a plan and now try harder to focus on the things that are truly important - working less, spending less, loving more, giving more, doing more things with the people I love to keep them closer. Trying really really hard to do things that make celebrating the holidays pleasant, not stressful and exhausting. Buying cookies if I run out of  time to make them. If I am busy most afternoons and evenings next week, serving takeout for dinner if I need to. Chinese food and Sub sandwiches look great on Christmas plates and we'll have plenty of great homemade food at Christmas. Not worrying if the gift I bought was "perfect" or if it cost enough. Listening more to those who matter, being "present" for the people I love and embracing the spirit of Christmas (as cliched as that sounds) when I relate to them. 


My advice to those who complain about Christmas stress? Do less. Slow down and let go of some things. See if a change of attitude doesn't help ease some of your stress. Make a point to enjoy the season. Like life, it goes by too fast. I can usually get into the spirit by making time for music, reading an inspirational book, attending church services, a concert or watching my favorite Christmas movies. (Maybe dream about buying a puppy . . . . We did that one year. If I could figure out how to do it now without losing my husband for good I'd try it again.) Make a decision to not let stress and irritability get the better of you. Stay away from the Scrooges. I say, let's bring back Christmas as that "most wonderful time of the year." And please please please Santa, bring me some snow. 


P.S.:  Thank you for all of the applique tips! I will try many of them after the holidays and let you know. See my Facebook page for a link to a really cute and quick Christmas gift idea -  lovely, simple hot pads or pot holders made from pretty fabric. I can't make a quilt for everyone so I'm working on some mug rugs. Not as grand as a quilt, but still nice. Works for me. 



"It's coming on Christmas, I'm cutting up trees . . . "

Merry Christmas!


27 comments:

Julierose said...

Beautiful and inspiring and thoughtful post. I agree--"let it go..." hugs, Julierose

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I think those that work in retail for the most part hate the holidays - this is the first season in I don't remember when that my daughter is not working retail and is actually enjoying the season - a lot hate the season or stress over buying that perfect gift for a zillion people on their list - I on the other hand keep it simple - gift cards and money - the grandkids do not want me sending them a gift they most likely will not like - they want money to pick out their own and that is what they get. Keep it simple and you will enjoy it - I stay out of the stores - I don't like the crowds

Linda said...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

msstitcher1214@gmail.com

Terri McBride said...

I love your blog. Merry Christmas!

Patti said...

Thanks for your post. I am one of "those" this year. I don't even want to put up a tree. I always deck my house to the gills. I just want it to be June. I will try to put your advice to work for me. At least today I finished doing the things I wanted to do in Oct/Nov. Now maybe I can get into Dec.

Sue said...

I just wrote in my journal today about this very thing. We can enjoy this time so much more if we let go of even giving those gazillion gifts by keeping it simple to just one for those we hold dear to our hearts. Most of us have an over abundance of gifts we give ourselves throughout the year anyway. Instead maybe a good idea would be to go and serve dinner at the local mission or just sit back and reflect on what this holiday is really all about and for me that is the gift God gave to us in His son, Jesus. How could that possibly be stressful?

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Leeanne said...

Such words of wisdom!!! Well written. I feel sad when I see people stressed out anytime of the year, but you are right Christmas should be about what is REALLY important, why do people spend so much then spend the next year paying off their credit cards? What's with that? Champagne life style on a beer budget!
Wishing you as much snow as Santa can fit in his sleigh! Of Course I can ask for snow too but by the time Santa gets to us in New Zealand it has melted! :-)

The Civil War Quilter said...

Merry Christmas, Kathleen! It sounds like you've discovered the true joy of Christmas. I'm a big kid at Christmas and cannot tolerate Scrooges. My boss/principal took my school clock off the wall in the Media Center last week for repairs. When he brought it back in the afternoon I had covered the big hole in the wall with a Christmas wreath. You should have seen his face! The kids all laughed when He said, "Mrs. Wright, do you want to tell the time or decorate?" I said, " You should know better than leave me a blank space to decorate and why can't I have both?!" I did get both!
You can have any snow that was planned for SE Iowa, as far as I'm concerned. :)

Vic in NH said...

Merry Christmas from a fellow stress-buster! My decorations are very humble, but my (70 year old) older sister took me to the Nutcracker matinee today and we both loved it! Time with our loved ones is so precious.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas back to you! Your red placemats are just lovely. Nice to see we have the same happy smiling snowman dishes.
Launa in CA

Ann in PA said...

Kathy, What a beautiful blog post!!!! I love Christmas and still get as excited about it as when I was a kid....and that was a long time ago. : ) The quote is perhaps the best one to define what Christmas is all about. Thank you! Hugs!!!!

quiltgrannie said...

Loved reading your post Kathy and I can relate to everything you said! I hope you have a wonderful Holiday, get the puppy your dreaming about and just a little snow!! Hugs, Karen

Anonymous said...

What a great post today. I love Christmas as well. I miss my Dad who LOVED it. I love to sew gifts, baking and our wonderful Christmas dinner. The most important thing is family. Remember you can only do so much. Do what is most important and relax..

Christine

Ruth said...

I love Christmas too, although I used to get much more stressed out when our kids were home and I was working full time. At age 71, I still love to decorate and don't understand people who don't decorate at all. Our tree is small, but I have lots of quilts that I put out and some real tiny trees in different rooms. This year we live near one of our sons and that will be extra special for me.

moosecraft said...

And a very Merry Christmas to you and yours as well! About 6 years ago I stopped doing less and enjoying more during Christmas... and I wish I had decided to take that pace sooner! Now, I decorate our home with a few hand made pieces, some Christmas looking quilts and a tree (if time allows).... yes, I bake cookies and a nice hot meals for Christmas Eve and Day for us...but there are the many days in December when we visit friends near and far and enjoy meals with them that they have prepared. :-) That, to me, is what Christmas is about.... TIME with those you LOVE to warm the heart... and good food to warm the belly! :-)
Of course... I do still dream of a puppy! ;-)

Liz said...

Very wise words Kathleen I too can relate to everything you said. There is nothing I enjoy more than driving right past the mall in the days leading up to Christmas. I hate big box stores and all the long line-ups. No wonder people are stressed hauling huge buggies full of stuff that will probably end up stored in the basement anyway. I really don't need more :"stuff:" just as long as I have my family, my health, my quilting and small stash I am happy.Have a wonderful holiday season with your family Kathleen. I look forward to reading many more interesting blogs in the coming year.

Gloria Galiana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gloria Galiana said...

I absolutely loved your post. I have to tell my myself not to stress and remember what is important. The fact that my husband is doing so well with his colon cancer and my boys and their family are well is more than I could possibly want. Gifts are minimal and decorating makes me happy. Making favorite cookies, fudge, and desserts bring me great joy. I lost my father close to Christmas and that brings a saddess over me during this time. My mother has also passed, but they always made Christmas very special for me and my brothers. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and, of course, your new puppy.

Kathleen Tracy said...

LOL - there will be no new puppy. That was just wishful, wistful thinking. I already have a special pup near and dear to me.

Kurt Schindler said...

I think Christmas all year so I start making "simple" gifts for people as early as sumer. I also shop when we travel or go to vintage stores and find neat things for some of the people on my list. No antique or vintage items for my adult kids though. I love decorating my home and my husband appreciates my efforts. So I am with you. I love the season and don't feel stressed -
maybe because of my attitude and planning.
Hope your Christmas is Merry.

Charlotte

Jennifer M said...

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New year. Sounds like your planning just that. Your words are so true and talked to my heart. I too, miss my mom dearly this time of year but cherish my special memories with her. I hope for snow too, just makes it that much more magical:) I love your star and tree blocks Kathy and thank you for a beautiful post:))

Mary @ Neat and Tidy said...

All I can say to this post is a big AMEN. Well written!

I, too, miss my mom. She is late third stage Alzheimer's and hasn't recognized me in over years. I still try to recreate a wonderful Christmas for my family following her lead.

Merry Christmas to you. Thank you for such a wonderful blog to read.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I read your blog today. Christmas has been a nightmare for me with serious family issues and now that we are raising our three grandsons, 8, 5 and 9 months, I needed to change my attitude and your blog helped me do just that. Thank you. LV

Kristen said...

Christmas is often a stressful time for families of divorce. I counsel other stepmoms who are often dealing with their husbands' exes not abiding to the custody agreement or wanting to change things entirely, upsetting the plans to see the kids and extended family. For us, we're both dealing with unemployment and mounting bills - all of our belongings are in storage and we're staying with relatives for the foreseeable future. We have no decorations, not even our stockings. We've agreed not to give each other gifts but still have to manage something for the kids, whose friends generally get over-the-top Christmases while we're trying to do what we can on very little money. Every day is about trying to be grateful for the little things but it is a struggle when no end is in sight, and being asked to give more everywhere we go is really challenging. Even the local mission generally turns volunteers away at this time of year because they have too many (they want them when it's NOT Christmas). So maybe it will be easier to understand why people might feel stressed - not seeing their children or having a home of their own or worrying about having work or money in the new year - and realizing how Christmas and the constant pressure to do and be and give can add to it.

Jean Belle said...

It's snowing now in the Twin Cities. Hope we can send some your way next! Merry Christmas.

Judy said...

Words of wisdom. I needed that. Thanks for writing it.

Merry Christmas!

Huckleberry stitches said...

Yes! This is what I have done this year, i did less and I am enjoying the season! Those are great words of advice and yes we need to bring back the old fashioned christmas! Merry Christmas!

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