Each year it is a struggle to enjoy the season.
Each year I find myself tense and stressed instead of joyful and peaceful.
Each year I worry and rush and panic and frantically try to remember every little item on my to-do list and every event on my calendar. And there are too many to-dos and too many events.
Each year I tell myself I will simplify until I realize there is virtually no way to do so.
Each year gets busier and busier.
The list is ever growing and it is making me a grumpy mess.
-Set up two Christmas trees, a house full of decorations, and all the lights on the outside of the house, while trying to maintain my patience and enthusiasm while the kids "help".
-Don't forget the St. Nick's gifts for the kids stockings. And don't forget to put the gifts IN the stockings for the kids on the correct date!
-Buy little treats for all 4 of my kids' Secret Santa gifts every week.
-Remember dates for the kids' Christmas concert and rehearsals.
-Remember dates for my Christmas concert and rehearsals.
-Remember dates for Ben's Boy Scout meetings.
-Remember dates for Joey's basketball practices.
-Bake treats for Joey's basketball tournament concession stand this weekend.
-Remember times for Joey's games for the tournament this weekend.
-Remember the two five hour shifts I'm signed up to volunteer for at the tournament this weekend.
-Think of gifts for the six teachers I have to buy for.
-Remember to buy the actual Secret Santa gifts, and wrap them, for my kids to give to their assigned classmate on the appropriate day.
-Pick up approximately 40 small gifts and gag gifts for the games we always play at the grandmas' houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas, and then wrap the 40 small gifts and gag gifts.
-Sign up to bring treats to all 4 of the kids' class Christmas parties.
-Attend and help at Grace's class Christmas party.
My head is so clogged up with trying to remember dates and times and practices and rehearsals and gifts and obligated FUN that I suddenly remember that I haven't even really started my Christmas shopping yet. I don't even know what my kids want this year.
Last night I approached the subject with my kiddos.
"So, if we have a free night in the next week or two we need to go and see Santa. What are you all gonna ask Santa for when we finally see him?" I say, attempting to fake my enthusiasm as we are finally getting the ornaments on the tree in the front hallway.
"Meh. I don't really need anything. I'm not gonna ask for anything. There are so many kids that don't have anything and I already have so much stuff." Tommy tells me earnestly.
"Yeah. We are so lucky. Some kids don't even have a house! They live in a BOX!" Ben adds.
"Some kids don't even have a BOX!" Grace informs us.
"That's why we give money in those red buckets at the store. That money goes to help people." Joey says, trying to make his siblings feel better.
"I'm gonna put my allowance in there!" Ben decides.
"Me too! I have lots of monies but only one dollar. But they can have my monies and my dollar." Grace happily tells us.
"That is so nice of you guys. It is important to always remember to help other people. Why don't we take a few stars off of the giving tree at school so we can help some other kids have a nice Christmas too?"
"Yeah!" they all agree.
"You are such thoughtful kiddos. I bet Santa knows how sweet you are and he probably thinks you deserve a present or two. Can't you think of anything?" I urge them.
Soon, with my prodding, the ideas are starting to come; Packer or Badger helmets, LEGOS and dollies, but they are still hesitant to ask for too much.
And once again the Christmas spirit finds me.
Amazing how my children always know how to restore my Christmas spirit. Last year their giving hearts rejuvenated me and this year their compassion for others does it again.
I realize there will always be too many events and too many to-dos this time of year but I am reminded once again why the holidays are so beautiful and such a blessing.
I'll take one day at a time, I'll do what I can, and I'll keep my kids close so that I can get my refill of the Christmas spirit any time I need it.