Please excuse the tardiness of this festive post.
It’s Christmas Eve – I had to work today and I have also been up late every night this week just trying to get the absolute minimum done to cobble a decent Christmas together: groceries bought, a real tree purchased and decorated and yes, alright, assemble the super-high maintenance stockings that my older boys will still delight at, anticipating an equal balance of the usual and the unexpected; marzipan from the German store (traditional) but then perhaps a gift certificate for a high end restaurant tucked in deeper still . Like most people, there are a few “must have” traditions that I like to get done in order to feel calmer but honestly, I am not a crazy person about all this. No one here has been carving roses from butter for the table or stringing dried cranberries around the cat basket. I merely try to strike a good balance and still do fun things for myself and the people around me.
Despite that – I somehow ended up weeping yesterday.
I mean, really leaning into the kitchen counter weeping, the kind that makes your chest cavity ache inside and usually involves making those “ack, ack, ack” noises.
(Incidentally, you can acknowledge recognition of this noise here and not be judged in the least …)
I’ve done Christmas single-handedly many times now but somehow as I get older it feels overwhelming: essentially three days straight of cooking and cleaning up around the clock. (I briefly see myself as Marley’s ghost with a clanking “ponderous chain” of unwashed and heavily crusted saucepans that stretch far behind me). Yet as a mother (and dare I say it a woman) I want to do this for my family. It’s expected, I want it to look effortless and frankly, it seems decidedly uncool to complain. I absolutely hate the thought of becoming a Christmas-Grinch intoning that it’s nothing but work and that really, (this is my favourite) it’s “just another day.”
I do NOT want to be that person but this year, just as I was descending into an evil cold and trying to dodge all the other Christmases from the past swirling in my mind, I doubled-up and gave in to the crushing poignancy of it all.
And frankly, I did feel better and less exhausted from trying to keep it all in. I have since shared this with a few people (most of whom were visibly surprised that I had not only made myself vulnerable but also spoken negatively about Christmas, gasp) but interestingly, then felt emancipated enough to say “I felt like that yesterday! I thought I was crazy! But it IS hard isn’t it?”