It’s 5 days until Christmas, and between work, life and holiday preparations, it’s a little chaotic around here. With packages and holiday cards left to mail, and not yet even started on my wrapping, it’s easy to get lost in the list of to-dos. All that work on the Salsa Verde turned into gifts, with gorgeous tags made by my artist husband. My spiced nuts are packaged up into gift bags and being delivered along with the salsa and cookies.
Modern life is so busy. Not only are our houses supposed to be decorator-perfect but we’re always supposed to be doing something fun. Creative. Interesting. Instagram-worthy. It’s not enough to do enough – the pressure to do more and more is overpowering. Yesterday after Connor’s first-grade concert, then it was class party. We have Elves on our shelves, Advent calendars to fill, and even the kids at my daughter’s riding class were giving out gifts. “I was supposed to do that?” I wondered, not for the first time, as I rushed out after to buy a last-minute gift for my daughter’s teacher.
No wonder we’re all so tired.
Which means that this is the moment for some mindfulness.
We’ll do more baking this weekend, but it’s also going to be fun – Eli and Connor have an outing planned this weekend, while Kiera and I go into Boston with her close friend and the friend’s mom for a day of exploring. We have a very special house guest coming to visit too – our former intern resident from last summer, H, is returning to us for a night. We’ve missed her.
So it was time to remember that somehow, some way, the holidays always come together, and I know it will this time too. I don’t have to do everything perfectly, and if yet again I don’t get to making homemade truffles, it’s ok. There’s always next year. I have to remember that teaching my kids that holidays are a time of rushing and stress is not the message I want to send.
Instead, I want to send the message that yes, we put effort into things that make us proud to give, but what’s really important is what we give to one another. There will be busy nights between now and Christmas, but ultimately it’s more important that Connor gets to wrap the gifts we’re sending to Auntie Liz and Uncle Joe over general perfection. If dinner is ham and cheese and Cheerios occasionally, it’s hardly the end of the world. If the Christmas cards arrive at some houses on the 26th, we’re not exactly committing a cardinal sin.
So this morning, after making sure the bunnies had food and water and were making it through the cold, I tossed in some laundry, put on the coffee and just..sat. Looking at our tree. Collecting my thoughts.
It’s ok to put it down sometimes. No, it’s more than ok. It’s necessary. If your friends come over and there’s clutter in the corner, whatever. Did you feed them? Do they love you? Is their presence more important than whether you did everything perfectly?
Today, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go get my hair done, I’m going to work, I’m going to make something easy for dinner, and we’re going to sit and watch a movie. Maybe we’ll make some sugar cookies, maybe not.
We are here, warm and safe, surrounded by love. We have enough, and some left over to give to those less fortunate than us. Are the tree lights perfectly spaced? No. Am I going to get everything done? Nope.
Will I do the things that really count? Yes. Yes I will. So will Eli, as he always does. This year, our first year as a family, I don’t just want to celebrate what we’ve done, but also who we are. We’ve accomplished a lot, sure. But none of it matters if we’re harried and snapping at one another.
So sit. Breathe. Look at the lights.
Remember you do enough. You’ve bought enough, baked enough, cared enough.
You are enough.