Friday, December 6, 2013

Finding Christmas

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.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Breathe, Kat. Enjoy those gorgeous, good-hearted kids and BREATHE. The best thing I did years ago was to start opting OUT of Christmas busyness so that I, too, could enjoy the season. It's too easy for moms to become slaves to Christmas, exactly what God does NOT want for us. Go easy on yourself and do only what you value for your own sanity!

Hilary said...

You have beautiful children, inside and out. You and Todd are doing such a wonderful job of raising them. Now that's true spirit.

Kat said...

Green Girl- See that's the problem. The stuff I do now is all stuff that I have to do. There really isn't anything to opt out of. I haven't volunteered for anything (well except for the basketball tournament which I am REQUIRED to do as a basketball mom- since there are only 6 basketball players on the team this year). I haven't signed up for extra stuff. It is all obligations that kind of have to be done. 'Tis the season! ;)
We already take it easy with presents for our family. The adults don't exchange gifts. We keep Christmas and Christmas Eve simply with just appetizer parties (I suppose I could forget the 40 small gifts for the games, but I actually enjoy the games). The rest is stuff for the kids' school that they all participate in. And then my choir stuff (which is the only thing I do for myself). I don't know what else I can cut out. I suppose I could skip sending out Christmas cards, but honestly that is not that stressful. I don't know.
Basically, it just is what it is. I just need to stress less about it and take one day at a time I guess.
At least it is good to know that my kids still have a good focus even though sometimes I feel like I have lost my focus. Smart kids. I can learn from them.

Hilary- Thanks so much! I feel like sometimes they are the ones teaching me. :)

Dawn said...

That was wonderful to read. Yes, the lists get frighteningly long this time of year. I tend to start forgetting things, like my daughter at school this week, because I can't hold it all in my head. But the Christmas spirit is there to be found, if we just pay attention. Your kids are so precious.

Tabor said...

Great new citizens for the world you have raised! Hope I bump into them sometime. My one suggestion is that you need to list everything you are doing this season and then promise next year you will reduce it by 20% Find a way to say 'No.'

Anonymous said...

Leave it to the kids. I know that if I just stopped long enough to pay attention I would learn a lot more from mine. Hope you have a great season.

Bijoux said...

It is easy to feel overwhelmed. I have no advice, just hang in there! I'll be making Xmas cookies!

Kat said...

Christmas cookies! BAH!!! I forgot about that! I have to do that too! ;)

Todd Erriffic said...

Kathryn does and amazing job every year making the Holidays memorable and meaningful for her entire family. She is a tireless worker and to often forgets about her own needs. Then again, knowing her parents, that's how she was raised. I am thankful each day for this incredible woman.

SHMILY said...

Glad to hear that. my Ex SIL wants to get my girls something small but of course when i asked them they had no clue what the wanted.. some kids just have the spirit in them..

betty said...

This was such a sweet post to read about your kids and their compassion and kindness to want to help others first without just spilling out a big list of what they want themselves for Christmas! You and hubby are doing a great job raising them!

But wow, you do have a lot on your plate to get ready for the holidays!


Charmaine said...

Hey Kat :) this post is simply beautiful

April said...

Awww, I've missed your "feel good" posts...I always end up smiling as I read them! And your kids are sweeeeeeet! We are super poor this holiday season, and I was very stressed about it. But I've taken a different approach to enjoy the season! I keep telling Hunter what Christmas is about for us: family, giving, sharing, holiday fun...and NOT about just getting toys. He has agreed to donate some of his gently used toys and it warms my heart! We're going to bake cookies, continue singing Christmas carols and Mama is NOT GOIGN TO STRESS about the fact that I haven't been able to afford to buy one thing yet for Christmas. Just spending time with my family is what this is all about. :-) It's nice when our babies remind us of that!

Elaine Alguire said...

This just shows what an amazing job you and your hubby are doing as parents, Kat! Ben and were filling the change box for our church's chosen charity (ooh, that's a mouthful!) last night and it was so sweet that he was putting in his own money. :)

And even though it is a SUPER busy time of the year, they still can find that love in their heart... so precious.

Have fun at all the holidays events! ;-D

Cyndy @ Back in the Bush said...

Wow. I think I would have dropped everything and taken a cry-break after hearing that. Y'all are doing a fantastic job.
The good news - it gets a little less hectic when they're older.
The bad news - it gets a little less magical too.

Anita said...

Oh, how I feel for you, because I've been there. :) Actually, it's not completely over, but I've settled down some because my kids are now teens and the gift purchasing is easier. Today, I was online - something that I think I will do from now on!

Suggestions: make a list (you can use this post!) for next year because it will be the same. Start way before Christmas, even in January if you aren't totally burned out. Get the teacher gifts and wrap them. Put a yellow sticky on them to know what's in it. Nowadays, I resort to $5 gift cards for Starbucks, B&N or Target. Then I put a thin ribbon on a Biscotti cookie (individually wrapped already in boxes of 8) and attach the gift card. Done! (Can't do this too far ahead because the cookie will be stale.)

Oops, gotta run. Gotta pick up a kid! Will be back if I have anything more to add.

Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson