A Little Glam, A Bit of Escape

pretty womanIt is award show season — that time of year when celebrities get together to try to out-shine each other and get bestowed upon with accolades and statues. I like to tune in to some of these shows to see the gowns and tuxedos and listen to them talk about their roles and accomplishments. After all, a national R.W. past-time is to review and critique celebrities on the red carpet, and discuss who looks fabulous and who looks “terrible.” I’m particularly amused by the question “who are you wearing?” and the discussion that ensues around the designer gowns, shoes, and jewelry. My BFF’s and I like play this same game, and respond with “I’m wearing Target, Dress Barn and Kohl’s.”

Speaking of designer shoes, the other day I was flipping through Self magazine and there was a layout showing some lovely strappy high-heel sandals.   The prices for them ranged from $735 to $1020. I asked out loud to no one in particular, “who spends $1000 on a pair of shoes!?” Keep in mind I am a shoe fanatic. Yet I firmly believe that even if I had that kind of disposable income, I couldn’t bring myself to spend it on one pair of sandals. In watching the red carpet however, I realize that any of those gowned women would likely purchase those shoes. But am I to believe that they read Self? Does JLo really sit down in her sweats and fuzzy socks and look through this magazine (of which she happens to be on the cover and in the feature article) for tips on how to better herself? I doubt it. So if not her, then what readers do the editors really think will see that shoe spread and say “oh, I have to get me some of those”?

But I digress….Each year, awards are given out for movies that I have not seen and in many cases have not even heard of. Every time, I wonder if I live under a rock, and make a promise to myself to see at least the top award-winners. This promise is rarely completed. I may see one or two if I’m lucky, usually experiencing them far after the general population’s excitement over them has passed.

This is not due to lack of desire. I very much enjoy watching movies. I am drawn in by the cinematography, the costuming, the story lines, the music, the characters; all of the parts that make for a good film. For some reason, I just seem to lack the free time to devote to 2+ hours of escapism on a regular basis. And when I do finally carve out that time, I’m going to go for the type of movie I know I’m going to enjoy, rather than live life on the edge and try something completely out of my preferred genre.

We each have a “type” of movie, or even TV show, that we most prefer. Of the R.W.’s in my life, I can think of one who loves old movies, one who is fascinated by forensic investigative stories, one who wants gory thrillers, and another one who wants to watch end-of-the-world zombie apocalypses. There is a genre for everyone. Ever wonder who watches those formulaic, romantic, unrealistic fluff Chick Flicks?   Me. Yup, I admit it. Go ahead, roll your eyes. I know that Chick Flicks all pretty much follow the same plot and formula, in a very predictable format, but I love them all.

Last weekend, a couple of my BFFs came over to visit and have some afternoon downtime. We decided to watch a movie, and rather than default to Netflix, I browsed my own DVD collection for a few options. Within 5 minutes I had an armload of over a dozen Chick Flicks. I placed them on the table, my husband glanced at them, and I said “it’s a sickness.”

The funny thing is that when it comes to our favorites, we will watch certain movies over and over again. My husband for example has watched The GodFather, Deer Hunter and Slingblade dozens of times. Conversely, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched You’ve Got Mail, While You Were Sleeping, and Pretty Woman. If our beloved movies come on TV, we can’t help but pause and watch, again and again.  There are plenty of movies I’ve seen outside of my preferred type, and many have been excellent. But I have no desire to see them again; in my mind, they are one and done. I will not be committing every detail to memory through multiple viewings like I have with, for example, Sleepless in Seattle.

I think our taste in movies says a little bit about ourselves. I don’t expect my fellow R.W.’s to desperately want to live in the black & white 50’s, see the world taken over by zombies, or watch a bad guy’s head get chopped off in real life…but their entertainment preferences may mean they enjoy history, have analytical minds, are thrill seekers, or like to solve complex problems. Does my penchant for Chick Flicks mean I’m a hopeless romantic? Maybe yes, maybe no…but I’m pretty sure it does mean I like happy endings in life.

So bring on the parade of stars and award shows. For without them, we wouldn’t have these other worlds for our escape, characters to fall in love with, and complex plots to interpret.   They give us outlets for our imaginations and our emotions, and help us travel to other lands and meet new people without leaving our comfy seats. What’s not to love about that?   During the next Award Show, I think I’ll take notes of movies worth watching for future reference. If I’m really lucky, there will be a new romantic comedy to add to my collection.

And if nothing really appeals to me, then I’ll just refocus my attention and try to figure out who’s wearing those $1000 shoes.

 

Our Battle for Control

juke faceReal Women like to be in control. Come on ladies, it is ok to admit it. After all, this doesn’t come as a surprise to the men in our lives.

Sure, there are a few of us out there who thrive on chaos and spontaneity, those who flow through life seemingly directed by whichever way the wind blows. But for the majority of the rest of us, we like to play it a bit safer. We are in our comfort zones when we can feel in control of our surroundings, our actions, our activities, even the people in our lives.

We like it when our environments are organized in a way that makes sense to us, with everything in its place. We like to keep track the activities of our family members, and take care of our loved ones the way we know best. We want everything to follow a certain schedule or have everything go “according to plan”, which really is our plan. We strive to control how we look, how we act, and even have the silly notion that we can control our emotions. (How’s that working for ya?)

Yes, we like to have fun and go wild and crazy from time to time, but really when it comes down to it, we like our routines. We like it when we have a smooth morning, get everyone off to school and arrive to work on time and wearing matching socks. We like it when our kitchen is cleaned up and the dishes are done. We feel in control when the kids are settled in to bed and we can have a few minutes to ourselves. When our personal planets are aligned, we are happy campers.

But life happens. We get pushed out of our comfort zones by things we have no control over. Deadlines move. Illness strikes. Basements flood. Cars break down. Jobs change. The weather turns ugly. Someone needs our help.   In the blink of an eye, we have lost a bit of our control and our routines are uprooted. Our lovely little plans are thrown out the window.

No one understands and relies upon routines more than a pet dog. These creatures live by daily expectations of meal time, activity time, when the humans come and go, and who will give them care and love. It’s simple, and for them, it works.

This past weekend, I headed out for a walk with my yellow Lab. After all, in his eyes, if mom is home in the afternoon, then we go for a walk. It’s just what we do. On this particular day, however, we humans in the family had some place we had to be at a certain time. My day had gotten away from me (due to the usual chores and playing a game of “beat the clock” to see how much I could fit in to a Saturday). This meant that I had limited time for our walk. We would not be able to complete our usual loop.

About a third of the way around our usual path, after my pup had stopped to investigate one of his favorite bushes, I attempted to turn around to head home. And got nowhere. My furry son at the other end of the leash had put his brakes on. He literally had stopped in the road, braced his 90-pound frame on all four feet, and was pulling towards the opposite direction. I could practically hear his thoughts “Nope, that’s not right. We go this way. Always. Remember? I have things to sniff and pee on in that direction. We can’t go back yet.” No pulling or cajoling was working in my favor. I started to feel my stress level rise, as I mentally calculated how quickly we could possibly continue around the full loop, how much time I could shave off my own preparations to go out, and knew there was no way I could do it in time. I knew one option would be that I could turn into Nasty Dog Owner and yell and haul on him with all my strength, but it really wasn’t his fault. I was disrupting his beloved routine. Instead, I found myself standing in the middle of an intersection, bent over, face to face in a discussion with my dog. I did my best to explain and rationalize, promising a longer walk next time. Of course I was pretending he could understand every word I said, rather than the likely reality that he was only hearing the same noise made by the adults in old Peanuts cartoons. I stroked his big goofy head and told him that mommy was sorry, but we just had to go home. Finally, with a few more tugs on the leash, he padded back up the road we had already travelled. Within minutes, he was back to his perky ears-up-happy-to-live-a-dog’s-world pace, watching for squirrels and sniffing random objects.

Our short struggle made me think about how we all handle interruptions in our routines. Every day we plan to head a certain direction on our well-travelled roads. We are in our content, controlled environments, ready for our expected outcomes. Then in a flash, a quick moment, plans change and we have to put on our brakes and consider other alternatives. We can refuse to budge, we can complain, we can have a stress meltdown…. Or, we can adjust and carry on.

Relaxing our hold on our imagined control means being uncomfortable, perhaps frustrated, worried, or anxious. We R.W’s don’t always take kindly to having to release our grip on our plans. Yet each time we do it, we seem to come out ok on the other end.

And just maybe, if we are lucky, we find new exciting smells and more squirrels to chase along the way.

 

 

 

Reliving Our Youth Through Youth

 

boy group

My son had three of his buddies over today. My husband was excited because he just recently finished a studio area above his workshop, and the boys were going to spend some time doing some music jamming up there. I was excited because ever since outgrowing “play dates”, the guys spend most of their time outside of school either online talking with each other, or Skyping. So it’s nice anytime we actually get to see them in person.

My son is in his last year of Middle School, so he and his entourage range in age from 13 to 15.   Which also means they range in size from 5’ to 6’, from acne to facial hair, from buzz cuts to shoulder length mops. They communicate via a vocabulary only they understand, punctuated by grunts, chuckles and quotes from internet memes.

We are lucky that our son is a good kid, stays out of trouble and seems to have accumulated generally kind friends, with great senses of humor. At this age, the guys have figured out that girls are unpredictable, emotional beings, who for the most part are irrational and annoying yet strangely appealing. None of them have truly started dating, although it is frighteningly on the horizon. This particular group of guys seems to have three great interests: gaming, music, and eating. Well, at least that’s from what we can tell, as communication with adults is kept to a mimimum.

After all, moms are grown-up girls, with many of the same mysteries mixed with the horrendous potential of asking embarrassing questions. Heaven forbid if a mom asks something like “how’s your family?”, or “how’s school?”, or tries to be cool and makes a social media reference….even worse by far, gets out the camera to take photos. So the boys have determined the safest bet is to avoid eye contact and when pressed mutter a quiet “hi” or “thanks.”

As I was putting a pan of brownies in the oven (no boys will starve in my house), I watched them stroll their way out to the studio. At this age, they all travel at the same speed. There is no rushing, no hurrying. It is best described as a lanky trudge, as if they are carrying 10 pounds extra in each foot. Watching them together made me think about my teen years.

The scary thing about watching our children grow older is that it becomes easier to remember ourselves at their age. Do I remember what my life was like at age 3? Not so much. But as a teen? Almost like it was yesterday. Although sadly, it was far from yesterday.

Some things clearly have not changed. The Middle School to early High School years are awkward, sometime challenging, hormonally-difficult times. Yet in some ways, they were some of my best years. At that age, we are all self-focused, and our worlds center around ourselves and our friends. We build strong bonds with our friends, and some of those relationships may last the rest of our lives. I wonder which of my son’s friends will still be in his life 10 and 20 years from now.

I remember the awkwardness of beginning to see the opposite sex as anything more than cootie-carriers. When I was in middle school, I was far too busy having crushes on my big brother’s friends (because they were sooo handsome and such mature high schoolers), to have any interest in boys my own age. Just like how my son seems to feel about girls his own age right now, I thought boys were kind of annoying and goofy but kinda cute. It was by far more fun to spend time with my girlfriends, talk about the boys, and hang up pictures of hunks like Starsky and Hutch and the CHiPs guys in our lockers.

Standing in my kitchen, as I’m sure my mother did, I realized that in those early teen years, parents were in the background of our lives. We saw them as transportation and food suppliers, providers of a place to hang out, and begrudgingly relied on them reel us in when our behavior was less than appropriate or save us from making bad decisions.

Sure, it is hard to see the kids pulling away when we used to be the center of their little universes, and it can be frustrating when they are so self-focused… but it is necessary. These are the first steps in figuring out who they are as individual humans, finding their interests in life, and starting to figure out how to be independent. The difference now is we are seeing it from the other side – as the parents and adult relatives. We put our parents through the same things we are experiencing now with our kids. We took them for granted, and we relied on them even as we spent a lot of time pretending we didn’t really need them.

The good news is this is just one the many cycles of life. It wasn’t until my later high school and college years when I realized it was possible, and even enjoyable, to have conversations with adults. I remember parties that my brother and I used to have at my house, and invariably at some point, we’d find a few of our friends sitting around the kitchen table talking to my mom and dad.   We learned that mom and dad were cool, and were genuinely interested in our lives. We sought their advice, and in turn, we kept them young.

And so, as I listen to my son and his buddies in the other room, and I understand about every 10th word, I am content that they are at least safely and happily spending time under our roof. We may easily remember being that young, but now our roles have changed. My goal is to play that role for him the best I can… to be that parent in the other room, a little bit in the background…so he knows I’m there no matter what. If I can do it well, with a little style, and with as few embarrassing-mom-moments as possible, I too can come out the other side as a cool parent.

And at that point, I get to take a few steps into the foreground again.

time-passing

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

memoriesAs we happily stick a fork in this year, oh, I mean, bid adieux to 2014, there’s no limit to the “year in review” retrospectives surrounding us. The Top News Stories, the Best Commercials, Time Magazine’s Top 10 Photos, the Most Influencial People, In Memorium of Those Who Passed, The Biggest Natural Disasters, and on and on. Mixed in with all of these moments of review are our own personal inventories of the year. Was it a great year? Why? Was it a lousy year? Why? How did we change, what did we accomplish, what would we do over? And, naturally, next come the Resolutions for the Year Ahead. We start our goal setting, our personal improvement plans, and consider how to make the next 365 days “the best ever.”

I’ve never been very interested in re-living the high’s and low’s of the past 12 months. I mean, they just happened, I was there, and honestly some of them I’d rather put behind me. I would be far more interested in hearing about the Top 10 News stories or 10 Ten Hits of, say, 1983. That I’d get a kick out of. But re-hashing everything we just did? No thanks.

As for New Year Resolutions? I’m all for setting goals, aiming for improving our lives, and being healthier and happier. But laying out specific resolutions, like losing 20 pounds by February, or meeting Mr. Right, or getting every home project completed in six months — those are just nifty methods for setting ourselves up for failure. How about setting more realistic, simple goals like “be thankful today.”

I’ve read several lists over the past few days on Social Media that are either retrospective of the past year or resolution-setting for the next 12 months, and they are philosophically thought-provoking.   Deep thoughts and posturing to make us take stock and promise to be better humans. These lists are lovely and encouraging, especially as we hope for good things to come. But geez, it is a lot to take in, and truthfully, I’m already pretty exhausted. It feels like an awful lot of pressure to re-examine where I’ve been, or what I should be doing moving forward, all before that fancy shiny ball drops in Times Square.

Then today I saw a blog post from the fine folks of Brains on Fire, and it took a slightly different approach. The writer posted 6 Lessons Learned. I like that. Lessons Learned. Simple. Helpful. Because we are always learning something that we can carry with us. So I decided to consider a few lessons I’ve learned this year as a Real Woman who has grown increasingly more mature, and hopefully wise, in the past year:

  • Buy the shoes.   If a pair of shoes are calling your name, look adorable, are priced right, and will make you happy, buy them. So what if they will only go with one outfit, or you already have five pairs of black pumps? When you wear them, you will be happy, and happy looks good. This works for whatever your “thing” is. If not shoes, then bags, or bracelets, or scarves. If you can give it a good home and love it, buy it. One word of warning: if it means making a decision between paying the electric bill or buying the shoes, leave them on the shelf. Even with shoes, I will admit that too much of a good thing can be hazardous.
  • The dishwasher will never empty itself. There are some chores that will never be taken on by others in your household. Let it go, and just accept ownership. Instead, delegate other activities like taking out the trash or handling the recyclables. Besides, you know they wouldn’t put everything away the way you like it anyway.
  • Be obnoxious and take lots of photos. It doesn’t matter if the teenager complains and makes a grumpy face, or the friend screeches about “looking horrible.” Take the photos anyway. Some day, some where, many moons from now, they’ll appreciate it. And as a side benefit, your memory isn’t strong enough to remember everything without visual clues. You’ll appreciate having them too.
  • There comes a time when heavy sweaters are no more. Any Real Woman under the age of 40 may not understand this one, but trust me. There is no use in keeping those heavy wool sweaters in your drawers as you head closer to menopause. They are only taking up space. You will never again want them on your body.
  • Make friends with the grocery store. Ah, this has been a hard lesson for me. I’ve hated grocery shopping for a long time. But lately, I’ve been taking my teen son with me, and suddenly it has become much more entertaining. Watching someone who likes to eat every two hours walk into a mecca that sells all the food he loves, puts a whole new spin on the adventure. Sure, it is still time-consuming, financially stressful, and a rather arduous chore. But it could be much worse – we could have nothing, or be required to go foraging in the wild. Besides, the people watching can be excellent.
  • It’s ok to go to bed early. My usual mode is to keep going into the night, scratching stuff off that To Do list, scurrying my way into exhaustion. But lately I’ve found out that if I actually listen to my body, and go to bed when I’m tired, the world keeps turning. Nothing falls apart while I sleep. And go figure, I feel better the next day.
  • Life would be dreadful without BFF’s.   There is just something rather amazing about having Real Woman friends in our lives. They understand, they accept who we are, they are supportive, and wow, can they make us laugh.   When we hit the rougher roads in our lives, that is when we find out who is truly caring, who’s got our back, who is there for the best and worst…and those are the ones we need to hold on to. And guess what, within this lesson lives one that is even harder to learn: it is ok to ask for help. It is ok to take off the Superwoman cape and ask for a little help from our friends and loved ones when we need it. I haven’t quite mastered this yet, but I’m trying. Maybe it will make my top 10 list next year.

 

To all you amazing RW’s out there, thank you for being there, and for your loyal readership this past year.  As you ring in the New Year, may it be a happy and healthy one for you. And may you be able to pick out a few lessons along the way.

 

 

At Some Point It Will Happen… If We Let It

candle2Lo and Behold, RW’s….the holidays are officially here. Hanukkah is winding down, and Christmas is starting. We have been on Turbo Prep mode for days, weeks, even months. All of that hustle and bustle, scurrying, late nights, sore backs, tired feet, clogged heads and exhaustion has led to this.

Now it is time to transform our energy into something else: celebration. Holiday parties, get-togethers with friends, family gatherings – or even small more intimate connections. Whatever the plans, our efforts will shift from prep to hosting or participating.

Yet somewhere in there – in between events, right before a party, or after the dust settles – somewhere, like a hidden gem, will be moments of peace. We just have to be ready to recognize them and accept them.   These are the moments where we can finally breathe, finally be still, finally calm and – dare I say it – relax.

For some, those moments of peace will be shortly before heading out the door to visit family, when everything is done and ready. For others, it will be while sitting in church before a holiday service, or it will be when everyone in the house has gone to bed and there’s quiet time by the tree (when it is just you and those mice who aren’t supposed to be stirring either). Or, maybe, it is after the excitement of gift exchange has quieted and everyone is taking time to lounge and work off the sugar high of cookies. At some point, it will happen. We RW’s will feel even a brief moment of peace, and we’ll feel all that rush and craziness melt away, and will just…be.   We will, finally, in those moments, remember why we do all that we do this time of year, and convince ourselves, again, that it is all worth it.

My first holiday moment of peace came today. I luckily was able to take today off from work to finish up last errands, wrapping and house cleaning (I’m getting wise in my old age). After scurrying around all morning, I took the dog out for a walk. And for the first time in weeks, I didn’t rush him around the shorter loop. We did our usual full loop, and I let him stop and sniff. It was cool and drizzling rain, but I didn’t really care. It felt good. When we got back to the house, I made myself a sandwich for lunch, and actually sat at the table, flipped through a magazine, and watched the birds eat their lunch at my backyard feeder. Ahhhhhhh. Peace.   It didn’t last long (still had other things on my To Do list), but it was lovely. It felt great. It felt…well, peaceful.

In a matter of a few hours, the hustle and bustle will be back as family members arrive. The noise level in the house will once again rise up, and we will be busy visiting, talking, cooking, eating and diving head first into our celebrations. When we get busy with all of this activity, it can be a challenge to recognize moments that provide peace… but they will be there, we just have to let them in. We can sit with a child and read a book, we can lay on the floor with a pet, we can say a prayer, we can find a quiet spot to just sit and observe and look at all the lights. It doesn’t really matter what our moments of peace are, or when they happen – just as long as they do.

And so, my dear fellow Real Women, in the days ahead, I wish you the merriest of celebrations, full of energy and fun and love. But even more so, I wish you moments of peace that are amazing.

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. ”  – Bobby, age 7.

We Make it Happen

Christmas sparkleIn my last post, I suggested that we all cut ourselves a little slack, because whether we feel “ready” or not, Christmas is going to come no matter what. And that is true. Because we women make it happen. When the Grinch found out that Christmas arrived “Somehow or other…it came just the same…”, I can guarantee it was the women of Whoville who got their families up, organized, happy and singing that day.

Without Real Women, Christmas wouldn’t happen.

Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?   Mary, a very young and unsuspecting Real Woman was engaged to be married to a nice yet humble Carpenter. Then Lo and Behold (literally) she finds out that she is about to become pregnant. She will give birth to a son. Not just any son. The Son of God. Huh. No pressure there. Even better, while she is in her final stages of pregnancy, she will have to endure days traveling on the back of a camel, trusting her new husband. Then give birth in a barn. That’s a whole lot of strength and Faith. Because of Mary, we celebrate the birth of Jesus every December. And oh boy, we do it up big.

In her honor, we Real Women kick into over-drive. And the men in our lives? Well, a bit like Joseph, they plod along, trying to be supportive and not really knowing what to do, while we do all the work. Sure, there are some exceptions to the rule out there, but for the most part here is how it goes: We women do the gift planning, shopping, wrapping, decorating, card preparation and distribution, hosting of parties and events, baking, and meal planning. The men do some yard decorating, taste-testing, tree hauling and in the last week before the big day, go out to purchase gifts for the one or two people they have to shop for. Namely, the women in their lives. Lucky for Joseph, he had others who provided the gifts while he stood back dumbfounded at what his new bride had just accomplished.

Do any of us really need to go to the extent that we do? Probably not. But we are driven to provide memorable holidays for our kids, our families, our friends. And for the most part, we love doing it. My husband kindly thanks me and compliments me on the decorating I do, and marvels at the cookies I produce. I paused the other night and said “you know, I really do love doing this. I just get stressed because of the lack of time I have available to do it.” Its not like we can put the rest of our lives, work, family responsibilities, etc., on hold to prep for Christmas. Although wouldn’t that be wonderful?   We just have to add on our Make-it-Happen role to our already busy days.

We have sleepless nights when our brains won’t shut off, yammering away about our to do lists… yet the men in our lives sleep peacefully, visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Why? Because they know we will make it happen. At some point, along about 3am, some of us wonder what would happen if we didn’t do it all. What would Christmas be like? My guess: There would be a tree of some sort set up in our homes with a handful of decorations. There would be a few gifts, likely stuffed into gift bags. The gifts would be practical tools and housewares. There would either be a meal cooked on the grill, or an outing to the local Chinese food restaurant. And there would be lots of laying around relaxing.   So yes, Grinch, it would come somehow….minus a whole lot of glitz and glamour. It would be manly.

We women just do things differently, and on a grand scale. We feel compelled to honor Mary for the Gift she gave us. We are all in, and we make it happen.

My sister has a sign on her desk that I love. It reads:

Three Wise Women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, brought practical gifts, cleaned the stable, made a casserole – and there would be Peace on earth!

So to my sisterhood of exhausted Real Women out there: Thank You for making the holidays sparkle.

 

 

 

 

Hyper Prep

dog and lightsAh, yes. Cyber Monday. The digital shopping day that embodies the holiday spirit of getting it done easier, faster, sooner. We real women start preparing for the winter holidays weeks, if not months, in advance. This is mostly due to the fact that we already try to fit so much into our daily lives, that the addition of prepping for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever our year-end festivities include, could push us over the edge if we waited until last minute.

So by Black Friday, we are hitting the stores with our shopping lists, hoping to not only get the best deals, but to cross names off our list. Decorations that seem to magically pop up overnight are not the work of elves, but of exhausted and driven women and their long-suffering spouses. Some of the ambitious real women out there have their holiday cards ordered well before Thanksgiving, and have already wrapped and hidden most of their gifts before the calendar flips to December.   They take great pride in sharing with family, friends or co-workers as soon as they “are done.”   When did Christmas become a competition?

We have no one to blame, of course, but ourselves. We are constantly driven to do more, do better, handle it all – in all aspects of our lives.   So when the opportunity comes to shift those efforts into overdrive during the holidays, we jump at the chance. We search for the perfect gifts, try to come up with the prettiest or most heart-warming cards, plan the most special food, bake the best cookies, and decorate our houses as if we are all either Griswold-wannabe’s or want to be highlighted on Pinterest.

I’m just as bad about this as any other real woman. I’m determined that my house look like something out of a Norman Rockwell illustration, that I have a gazillion different types of cookies to give out, and that I remember all the special people in my life with some sort of gift.   Would the world stop turning, or would we crush anyone’s spirits if we didn’t send cards? If we went with simple décor for a change? If we (gasp) only made a couple of batches of cookies? No, of course not.

While I find myself scurrying around, trying to be the Martha Stewart of the holidays, I hear a small voice in my head, echoing the truth from the Grinch: “How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!….. He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming, it came. Somehow or other… it came just the same….”  And I try to force myself to slow down and breathe. If something doesn’t get done to perfection, so be it. Christmas will come, and be wonderful, just the same.   Well, at least I’m trying to believe that and find ways to cut myself some slack.

One thing I have vowed to do for myself is cut back on the stress of “being done early.” It just will not happen. I got an early start, and for that I should pat myself on the back. But will I be one of you R.W.’s who can sit back next weekend and say “yay, all done, I’m putting my feet up and relaxing now?” Nope.   And I’m learning to be ok with that. After all, this is the season of Advent. This is the time to prepare. This is the time to slow down enough to actually enjoy picking out special gifts, or decorating, or baking. It is the time to be thankful, remember what the season is all about. It is not the time for resentment, for anger, for extra stress.   We get enough of that at other times in our lives, don’t we?

So please join me in trying to remember to relax. It will get done. One way or another, the holiday will be here, whether we feel we are truly “ready” or not.   No one else will ever know what those items were on our to do lists that don’t end up getting completed. No one will care, or remember, that some of the lights were out on the tree, that a gift was hastily placed in a gift bag instead of wrapped tight with a bow, that a gift card was purchased when time ran out to complete the handcrafted present, that pizza was served at a party, or that a personal note doesn’t accompany every card. What the people in our lives will remember is time spent together, fun experiences we can have, the music we share, and the smiles on our faces.

And none of that can be rushed and “done early.”