Friday, December 9, 2011

Finding Balance

It's a balancing act.  This whole Christmas season.  A delicate balancing act. 

It seems I am a bit off balance this year.  My first clue came last week Friday when we attempted to put up our Christmas decorations and Christmas trees. 

I always have lovely visions of the way I think the Christmas season is going to go.  Music playing in the background.  Snowflakes gently flitting down outside the window.  A roaring fire in the fireplace.   The Christmas trees being decorated by happy children holding up their favorite ornaments and carefully placing them on the tree as Todd and I smile and watch from the couch.  In my mind's eye there is always lots of laughter and kindness and joy and peace.  Patient kids sitting excitedly in front of the Christmas tree posing for the ultimate Christmas card picture.  Todd and I enjoying our shopping trip alone to find the perfect Christmas gifts for the kids to really make this Christmas exciting, and then a nice, relaxing dinner out afterwards to celebrate our great finds. 

I'm sure it is no surprise to you that it never actually happens that way.

After setting up our two year old prelit Christmas tree we discovered half of the lights were out.  We spent an hour trying to fix them.  Then we spent another two hours CUTTING THE PRELIT LIGHTS OFF THE TREE and another half hour hanging new lights.  If anyone ever suggests that you get a prelit Christmas tree you have my permission to drop kick them in the head.  Also?  The sadistic hogs that tie the lights onto prelit Christmas trees by knotting them are permanently on my shitlist.  So much for feeling that Christmas love while setting up the tree.  My hands and arms were all cut up and bleeding from the scratchy branches, all of my nails but one had broken, I was cussing and sweating, and plotting people's demise. 

By the time the boys got home from school and Ben and Grace got up from their naps they were all ready to have some Christmassy fun.  However, we were about three hours behind where we wanted to be.  Todd had to run out and get new lights.  I had to try and make some kind of a dinner.  Then we had to wait for Todd to put the lights on.  When we were finally ready to start putting the ornaments on the overly excited and not so patient kids had to wait for me again as I discovered my camera had no batteries and my video camera was out of disc.  Have mercy, sweet baby Jesus!

By the time all was settled the kids were overwrought, I was frazzled, Todd was grumpy.  Not one of us was in a Christmassy mood.  The kids grabbed at delicate ornaments, started fights, whined and cried, and threw the ornaments at the tree and hoped they stuck.  In short (too late), it was horrible.  The kids went to bed miserable and I felt like a failure for approximately the billionth time since having kids. 

The next day would be better, we promised!

But, Todd and I spent much of our time attempting to get the kids out from inside the Christmas trees, cleaning up broken ornaments, and pulling out our hair.  We happily dropped them off at their grandparents' house that night and took off to find our rotten children some wonderful Christmas gifts.  We didn't find much.  Most of our time was spent arguing with each other, rolling our eyes, and disagreeing about what to give the kids.  It was not successful. 

We tried to shake it off and move on to dinner.  We went to one of our favorite little restaurants where Todd watched the Badger game too much, talked too little, and I ate my weight in fish and chips. 


So far, this whole Christmas thing is too much work.

I don't know what it is about this year that is making me want it all to be just right.  Maybe it is because it is Joey's first year without the magic of Santa.  He is being such a sweet brother making Christmas exciting for his siblings and I want him to know it is appreciated.  I remember my first Christmas without Santa.  It was miserable.  Or, maybe I am trying so hard because Grace is now at that age where she is understanding more.  This will be her first Christmas really feeling and sharing in on the excitement too.  Maybe I just want my kids to look back at their childhood, and their Christmases at home, and remember how magical it all felt.  I don't know.

It disappoints me, though, because I know Christmas isn't really about any of this.  And usually I am very good at finding that balance between making it exciting for my kids and stressing the real reason behind this Christmas season.  I feel like I am making it harder than it needs to be.  I am not finding the balance. 

I am hoping that once things calm down we will be able to enjoy the season more.  Not only was last weekend crazy, but the whole week that followed was madness as well.  I know there were at least two days in there when I did not sit down ONCE (unless I was driving in the car to get to yet another appointment).  Miserable.  I suppose it is hard to find balance when you feel like a crazy person.

But next week.  Yes, next week will be different.  All the madness begins to slow.  Maybe then I will be able to find balance.  Maybe then we'll have our roaring fire, our Christmas music, and our soft snow.  Maybe then we will be able to sit back and enjoy each other's company in front of our fully lit Christmas tree.  And maybe when the kids look back at Christmas photos from their childhood they will still feel that excitement and magic that the whole Christmas season holds, and perhaps forget about all the whining and fighting and scolding from mom and dad.  I can only hope.
(It only took me 300 tries to get them all sitting still, looking at the camera (with their eyes open), and smiling.  Yeah me.)

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historygirl said...

Oh Kat, You're not alone...I had the same Norman Rockwell hope for decorating our tree. However....I'm too overprotective of our pretty glass ornaments and was a nervous wreck watching my 4 year old juggle multiple fragile ornaments, so I finally benched both girls on the couch and they got to watch me decorate the tree, while bellering at them to "STAY ON THE COUCH!"

Definitely not Norman Rockwell. :)

Tabor said...

I had forgotten all those traditional Christmas holidays that I had when my children were young...and you had to remind me...oh well, things do get better...not less busy...just better.

Mom24 said...

OH my gosh do I 'get' this. I can not seem to get my balance this year either. I'm grumpy or apathetic, or whatever, but I just can't seem to pull it together.

I hope we both can find our balance quickly. {{{Hugs}}}

chrissy said...

Oh I can empathize on the Christmas tree experience. Sorry it wasn't what you imagined. I hope the rest of the month brings you much more peace.

Anonymous said...

I think you are too hard on yourself! YOu manage to get FOUR children (one of which a toddler) AND a DOG all looking at the camera at once? MIRACLE, in my book. LOL I think no matter what, your kids are going to look back on these pics with the fondest of memories. :-)

Tonya said...

All I can say is breathe in breathe out! You'll get through :)

Karen Deborah said...

now I understand why I have been seeing so many Christmas trees at the curb for the trash man! What a horror. More than one tree? another big stress. I think if I had to do I wonder if we don't loose some of our credibility right then as parents. I don't know why we do this. We could tell the real story of Saint Nick and the baby Jesus and have just as much of a celebration.
I really feel for you. You have such a sweet spirit and really want to give your family the very best. You can look down into your own heart and find out what the best is.

Unknown said...

You know, it's funny. I read this post on Friday before our crazy weekend began. And my "picture perfect" weekend, well it didn't go quite as planned so I GET THIS. I totally and completely get this.

We do the best we can and snap up the little moments of beauty and sweetness as they come. And the other moments well, those can just go on out of our memory as far as I'm concerned. ;)

p.s. I love that photo!

Jeni said...

I always seem to kind of "whack out" at some point in the Christmas preparations -or so it seems. Last Sunday, Mandy was going to trim the tree and discovered only 1 set of lights was working so off she went to town to get more lights. This week was a rather jumbled mess of poor timing but I managed to cook/bake food for the church's annual St. Lucia program and dinner and that went quite well. This week and next -not sure what I'll do as I've decided to proceed with no real game plan and see where the chips will fall on their own that way. Ready or not though, it will all come and go and somehow, whether we muddle through or sail smoothly, it all turns out okay in the end. Doesn't it? I'm counting on that being the way things go!

Lisa said...

if it helps, I was laughing while reading your Christmas decorating story. It will be one of those times that someday you will look back on at laugh at. Someday, right?
I totally get the wanting everything to be perfect. But it's not, and it wasn't for us either, and we still have a lot of really great memories. Your kids will too, I promise!
Hoping you are finding the balance & feeling a little more in the spirit!

Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? said...

Okay, the fact that you got that picture makes you my hero!

And, the lights? totally me last year. And, I only had 4 feet of tree to cut those stupid lights off. Prelit is a PITA! It's just stupid.

You will find it though, and this blog post will be your only reminder of the craziness that has been. said...

LOL! Oh, Kat....Norman Rockwell had no idea, did he?? I have to say that once I scrolled down in my reading to see the photo of your beautiful children sitting there in front of the tree...a HUGE smile spread across my face. You have SO many blessings...and I know you know this....but WOW! Much Christmas peace and calm to you as you continue through these days to Christmas!

ps. I felt the same way you did...and oh how I miss those days!

lime said...

the image of you wrestling with the lights, cussing, and sweating makes me think of the song "the 12 pains of christmas." i know you've gotten over your expectations but hey, if it gives you a giggle that's always a good thing.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Oh bless you!! I loved this post immensely.
You are definitely not alone and if it makes you feel better, your suffering has probably saved some other poor soul from the mistake of buying a pre-lit tree-- I know I won't buy one now.

That 300th photo is terrific, how blessed you are with those rotten ;-) children!

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