Season’s Greetings! This time of year makes most people all warm and fuzzy, but it stresses me out and I find myself full of anxiety. There’s so much pressure to be festive and cheery, but the days come and go so fast that I hardly feel like I have the time to slow down and enjoy all the things I’ve come to cherish about this time of year.
As I child, I remember my mother (God rest her soul) always had it together. I knew Christmas time was near when she would turn on the fireplace, put on Christmas Carols and ask my sister and I to help her decorate the Christmas Tree. She always had a well thought out comprehensive shopping list mapping out all the stores she needed to visit to get each one of her nieces and nephews a special gift. As a teenager, I started my own tradition of volunteering at Barnes and Noble every year to wrap gifts. I enjoyed being around the holiday music, the shoppers and wrapping gifts has always been something I’ve enjoyed. In my 20’s when I had my own apartment I started visiting the tree lots and buying smallish trees I could fit in my trunk and carry into my flat myself. My girlfriends and I would do holiday bike rides to Candy Cane lane and attend our town’s Christmas tree lighting. My sister and I began a tradition of our own too by spending every Christmas morning together watching the Yule Log channel in our pajamas, listening to Christmas Carols and baking our mother’s famous apple cake and sipping warm beverages. Over the years that tradition expanded to inviting others who had no other plans on Christmas morning to join us.
Now that I’m married, I have had to re-direct my efforts at building new memories and traditions. Last year being our first Christmas in our new home I insisted we get a real tree. We always had a fake tree at my parent’s house and in my apartment the tallest real tree I had was only 4ft tall. I wanted a REAL tree that would be taller than my 6ft husband. Over $100 dollars and several pine needles later we realized a fake pre-lit tree would have been far more cost-effective. We also didn’t own any ornaments so we went out and purchased generic colorful balls, but decided to purchase 1 special ornament each year and build our collection. My husband also successfully hung external lights and we managed to have a great Christmas. The one thing I wish I could have changed was that I felt like I didn’t have much time to relax. I yearned to be on the couch cuddled up with a blanket, a cup of tea or hot chocolate with the fireplace on watching my favorite holiday movies like Elf, Home Alone and even the super cheesy Hallmark Holiday films. It all came and went so fast. I did most of my holiday shopping online and only bought a total of maybe 3-4 gifts for the young kids in our family so imagine my surprise when I saw that my husband had gone out last-minute to a Rite-Aid, bought a bunch of stocking stuffers and small gifts, wrapped them up and placed them under our tree for us to have something to open ourselves. (He’s such a keeper)
This year, we were a bit more proactive in getting ready for the holiday season. In January we manged to snag a fake pre-lit tree in an after Christmas sale. Then, in the summer while my father was visiting, my husband and my dad hung a mantle on our fireplace. This made it much easier to actually have a place to hang our stockings. We also had proper stockings to hang which we had to scramble to get last year, but this year we even decorated them and added our names. We had some free time the weekend before Thanksgiving so that’s when we put the tree up and the external lights went up a couple of days after Thanksgiving. When December 1st arrived I felt we were ready!
This week has been a completely different ball game. I told my husband he had to get my Elf on the Shelf out. I know the Elf on the Shelf is meant for kids, but just because I don’t have children of my own doesn’t mean that I have to miss out on all the fun. Luckily my husband, the keeper, is a total sport. He plays along and thinks of funny and creative scenarios to set up my elf in so I can discover him when I wake up in the morning. This year the elf made his debut in a staged Law and Order SVU crime scene. I have always loved Law and Order SVU. My father and I would watch SVU marathons. Then my cousin S and I would watch marathons. My proudest accomplishment as a wife has been getting my husband hooked on the show since initially he hated it and refused to watch. The show is so good it sucked him right in and now he’s totally into it.
Although I haven’t done any shopping yet, I have made a list like the ones my mom used to and I plan on starting this weekend. I also want to ensure that I make some time to bake this holiday season. I’ve invited people over on the 20th & 25th and look forward to creating memories. I also want to spend at least ONE entire day on the couch watching holiday movies. What’s stressing me out and giving me anxiety about all my aspirations is that in 6 days I’ll be leaving on a red-eye to go to New York/New Jersey to visit friends and family and attend a couple special events out that way. It’s a pretty jam-packed trip, but I hope the feeling of the holiday season will be infused into it.