Ah, 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.”