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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, December 23, 2005


by Jill Monroe

Like many, Christmas was a magical time while growing up. Now...not so much. Now I have to:

1. Shop for every family member.
2. Buy a special card for the dh's family.
3. Clean and decorate a house.
4. Have the kids' picture taken for the photo that goes into my Christmas cards.
5. Bake.
6. Plan with the other PTA members the holiday parties for school.
7. Practice, make costumes and make sure the kids know their lines for the Christmas play.
8. Help plan the Christmas celebration for the children at church.
9. Address and mail Christmas cards.
10. Wrap all the packages and get the stocking stuffers.

And I haven't even gone into getting everyone dressed and driving to church for Christmas Eve service, Christmas Eve dinner with DH's family, early morning family time with the kids and dh and then brunch at my family's. Then back over to the dh's for the kids to open their stockings. Well, I guess I just did.

Sometimes I feel the Christ has been removed from my Christmas and replaced with Stress. Stressmas. Really, this time of year is no longer magical, and honestly, I don't know how to stop it. This SHOULD be a time of getting together with family, and thinking of the family created over 2000 years ago. We should be thinking about good will to everyone, instead of being cranky and worried about all the "things" we have to do.

Truthfully, I don't see the stress leaving this time of year. I'm going to keep a list of things I can do that will keep the meaning of the holiday in mind, while also relieving a bit of stress.

1. I'm going to light a soothing candle. I'm also going to keep in mind the guiding star that led others.

2. I'm going to take thirty minutes and bake gingerbread cookies with my children. Hopefully I can pass on this tradition that generations of women before me enjoyed with their children, and create a connection with our past. And since I'm a teacher, I cannot pass up this "teachable moment" and will share that gingerbread could be found in Medieval cookbooks, and that children used to decorate their Christmas trees with shaped gingerbread cookies - long before bought ornaments.

3. I'm going to play a variety of Christmas music, and turn off the TV. I'm no Esri when it comes to carrying a tune, but there's something about singing that lifts the spirit, whether it's Silent Night, Deck the Halls or Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

4. I'm going to pray. I'm going to ask God to give me patience and take away the stress. Then I'm going to thank God for my family, my kids, for the job that allows me to buy those presents that need to be wrapped.

Last month I wrote about Thanksgiving. There's something very meaningful about Thanksgiving happening right before Christmas - I think you need a thankful heart to appreciate the gifts we're given. And God's most important gift of all.

So, please share with me how you keep the stress out of this time of year. I know not everyone specifically celebrates Christmas, but I know there has to be a stressful holiday - I'd love to hear how you keep the meaning and leave out the stress.


At 8:48 AM, Blogger Gena Showalter said...

Hypnotic! Always. Something even better -- drinking hypnotic with Jill Monroe.

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have only purchased one gift and Christmas is in 2 days. I haven't put up a tree or one decoration. Nary a stock on the mantel. I may not send cards this year because we always do a photo card and I never got around to it. We haven't even put any lights in the yard. Today I'm shopping. Tomorrow and Sunday I'm cooking. And Monday I'll be sending up prayers of thanksgiving that again this year, I survived and didn't actually kill anyone for pissing me off. I will then have a glass of wine and curse the day those idiots in the 1800's voted to create this damned holiday.
Jill, you are doing WAY too much. I think you're the Martha Stewart of the writer's group. I swear, as God is my Witness, I will not let you make me feel inadequate.
I will not let you make me feel inadequate.
I will not let you make me feel inadequate.
Damn! Now I feel inadequate.
Betty S.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Betty, I restressed just reading what all needed to be done by you. Go get some hypnotic!

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Betty S said...

I have a GREAT idea.

No one has ever pinpointed the date Jesus was actually born.

Early pilgrims felt celebrating Christmas was sinful and forbade it because it was associated with Pagan Holidays and symbols. (solstice, wreaths, trees, lights, etc.)

It was never an official holiday in the United States until the 1800s.

It has all gone downhill from there. Commercialism, stress, indebtedness, stress, family fights, stress, bloody battles in the stores, stress, and people like me who create stress for everyone else because the whole thing is too damned much work and has mothing to do with the feelings of love, compassion and mercy that we are suppose to acquire from religion.

I vote that we start a petition to get rid of the the damn thing. It totally ruins winter, in my opinion.

Betty S

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Betty S said...

Of course, Hypnotic is good, too.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

Why DO we have to feel we have to do it all? Why is all the pressure on the moms? That's what isn't fair. My dh has done exactly 2 things to get ready for Christmas. Same with my ds.

I think you need to get your dh to help. And I think we as women need to know when to say enough is enough.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

I always ended up this stressed during Christmas,too. I started buying and wrapping presents early.

Being around some of my extended family stresses me more than anything. When some of these people get together, they get mean. I walked out of a family gathering last weekend after hearing the most hate filled, bigoted trash ever. And what these people do to my mother!! She's been crying for weeks.

I just try to remind myself daily that this holiday was meant to gather people together in peace and acceptance. And I remind myself that there will always be people who will never get that.

Bake with your kids. It's the best reality check ever. My daughter and I made white chocolate covered pretzels last night and I never fail to feel peace with her. Hope your holiday slows down a bit so you can enjoy it!

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Betty S said...

I say blame it on the Pagans.
And WalMart!

In truth, I think the whole commercialism thing needs to go. What's spiritual about that?

Who cares if they say "Merry Christmas" in their stores? If people don't sincerely mean something when they say it, then it's pointless. Corporate America is promoting it to milk people out of their money. They'll say Merry Christmas, Happy Hannaka, Kiss my Holiday Ass or anything else you want as long as they get your money. They've stretched it from "one day" to a "month" to "before Thanksgiving". And this year I actually saw some christmas stuff going up 3 days after Halloween. It is out of control.

I say form a class action suit against the pagans and WalMart. If you can sue McDonalds for Hamburgers, then surely you can sue pagans and WalMart for Christmas Stress.

Who needs all this work,
this stress,
or those damned raindeer crapping in the snow?
How many shingles have had to be replaced each year due to damage caused by ill-manicured raindeer hoves?
If Santa gets any fatter, there will undoubtedly be massive chimney damage world wide. Talk about someone who should be suing McDonalds! What kind of roll model is that for kids.


Yep. I think it will work. Let's force the Pagans to take it back!

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

I agree that the Christmas stuff is going up in stores way too soon. My sister said Christmas things began being stocked in her local Fred Meyer in July! Still, I love the holiday -- the lights, the decorations, the gift-giving, the sweets, etc. I think we try to do too much in too short of a time. I did that last year and about lost my mind. This year, I did the shopping gradually and early, wrapping as I went. And we cut back on how much we spent, and some of the adults agreed not to buy for each other to save moolah and the stress of trying to figure out what to get everyone.

The hardest part, I think, is the travel. Both mine and DH's families live out of state, so we spend two weekends traveling.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Oh, that's rough, Trish. I'm really trying to create that magical time for my kids. I love the lights, and the music, and the meaning behind this season.

But the stress can really get to me.

At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Betty S said...

Just so everyone will know. The tree is up. The unwraped presents are purchased. (I only lack 1) The groceries for the family gathering are purchased and in the fridge. All I lack now is wrapping (some of which I'm going to delegate), table setting, some general cleaning and hours in the kitchen.

This means the world to my mom who is 85. It is my gift to her every year. I don't let her know how miserable it makes me. It would really hurt her not to have it.

At 10:28 PM, Blogger MaryF said...

Wow, Betty! I can't believe you pulled it together in ONE DAY. Just look at it this way - you only stress one weekend instead of 3 weeks like the rest of us ;)

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Betty S said...

That's a very positive way to look at it.

Betty S

At 7:47 AM, Blogger Dorothy said...

I was doing real well in the stress department until the last couple of days and then it's like I know I'm forgetting something. The best way I know how to get rid of this stress is to realize that it'll all come together and no matter how hard we try to make everything perfect and to us it's just not as perfect as we want it to be, nobody notices and everyone has a great Christmas. Merry Christmas!

At 7:48 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

Amen, Dorothy! My mom was stressing about needing to mop the floors. I asked her which of us could criticize unmopped floors!

At 8:40 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

I should be stressed. I mean, my tree is only half decorated, I still haven't put lights up inside or out, I've only made two of our five traditional Christmas candies, I still have to bake three pies, a ham, make mac and cheese and fruit salad, wrap a half-dozen presents, make one last dash to the store, do a mountain of laundry, and clean the house.

But I'm too tired to stress. Maybe tomorrow.

I'm going to talk to my older kids about not buying gifts next year. I'd rather make it a rule that everyone goes and buys themselves something they really want for Christmas instead of buying a bunch of little things for other people who don't really want them. If I hadn't had to buy gifts for 4 kids, a spouse, and two mothers, not to mention nieces and nephews and sisters- and brothers-in-law, I'd have bought a tank of propane so we could have heat and hot water and gas to cook with. About the time the company goes home, the propane tank will run dry.

Hmmm, maybe that's when I'll finally stress.


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous mary beth said...

I totally agree Jill. It didn't even feel like Christmas to me until last night!
I love your list of what to do.

At 3:15 AM, Anonymous Betty S said...

Tried to post this Christmas night but somehow I couldn't get the blog to work. I'm trying again.

Christmas is over.
Everyone got fed, opened presents, watched "March of the Penguins", hugged on each other, wished "Merry" and sounded happy.

I purchased a scrumptious iced pumpkin bunt cake to go with the pie. It was very large so by the end of the evening was only half eaten. I stepped outside for just a moment ( a very small moment) to help my walker-dependent 85 year old mother load all her loot into my brother's van. When I returned Daisy, my normally sweet dachshund, was sitting on top of the table casually scarffing down the top of approximately 1/4 of the cake. I guess EVERYONE, including Daisy, had a very Happy Christmas.

Christmas night, as I sit typing this, my sweet dear husband was putting away the food and doing the dishes.

I guess it was a really great Christmas after all.

Betty S

At 9:09 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

I'm so glad, Betty! See, this is why we do this every year. ;)


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