When I was a kid, my mom would laugh and say “I hate Christmas” (like, pretty much every year). This is a woman who plays the organ at church (every Sunday), would throw huge Christmas Eve parties for family and friends (my sister’s birthday is Christmas Eve), bake Christmas cookies and decorate her house with a ton of sparkle. We had fabulous holidays. But she hated Christmas.
And now I hate Christmas. (Hi mom. I get it now.) The rushing, the gifting, the decorating, the lighting, the cooking, the shopping, the hustling, the outdoor light-hanging, the cleaning, the picture-taking, the getting dressed, the pressure, the lack of time to do it all in a truncated period (no matter how early you start). We all know these things are not the real reason for the season. But we all do them anyways because it’s Christmas. It’s what we do.
I guess I should rather say ‘I hate what Christmas has become.’ And for those of us who work, raise kids, cart kids, clean, cook, clean again, do laundry, volunteer, have big families who are expecting gifts (hello, this is all of us)… it is A LOT. If everyone opted to pick one name out of a hat to give a gift to, I’m going to say there might be a lot more happier moms out there. Just sayin.’ But we can’t do that because it’s Christmas.
So when one of my friends recently invited me to a cookie swap party (an adorable concept, requiring that each guest bring a platter of cookies to nosh on, taste test and then vote on), I got excited and panicky all at the same time. Excited to bake (I love baking) and panicky because, well, WHEN THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO BAKE COOKIES?!?!
But I paused. I PAUSED and I baked. A new recipe, in fact. Candy Cane Snowball Christmas Cookies, I’m calling them. They were delicious (and super fast & easy, just how I like my cookie recipes). Yup, I found ’em online… here. I made an effort to not think about all the gifts I haven’t bought yet, all the lights I haven’t hung yet, all the dirty clothes I haven’t washed yet or all the holiday cards I haven’t prepared yet. I just STOPPED. And measured. And mixed. And baked. And sugared like nobody’s business.
Somewhere between the sugaring and breaking up extra candy canes to crumble on top for artistic effect… it hit me: Baking makes me feel productive. Feeling productive makes me happy. Being happy makes me a nicer person and more relaxed (which comes in handy for parenting, wife-ing and navigating the season and all it’s ridiculous & rushed pressures).
Aha. So that’s why we bake during the holidays. My friend’s party and cookie-baking assignment – that I initially freaked out about (when?!? when?!? when will I have time?!?) – proved to be the most needed, most functional and most fabulous gift of all. I hate Christmas a little bit less now. And you know what: I did have time… it also made me feel like I have more time than I feel like here on out in this holidaze we call Christmas. Quite an unexpected snowball effect. Ha. (Maybe I should go shopping while the feeling’s still fresh?)
How do you de-stress during the holidays?