Preparing For The Holidays — The Days Are Counting Down

Every year preparing for the holidays is a huge deal for me. The house alone goes through a complete transformation that consumes most of my time for more than a month — more like a month and a half. I can’t just decorate a room, I have to completely change it. From the curtains/window treatments to the wall decorations, to every nook and corner being touched by something for the season. Then there’s the baking, cooking, parties, shopping, get-togethers, movies, music, and everything else that makes the holidays special. It’s a labor of love, but some years its overwhelming and more like work than joy.

This year, with everything being set back because of our skunk incident, a huge backlog of canning projects from the garden, cleaning out the garden, and not harvesting the last of our garden until the beginning of November, starting the holiday preparation was set back several weeks.

Then, when Hubby decided to remodel 14 rooms at our motel, I spent two weeks helping strip the old rooms, clean walls and carpets, and then setting up all the new furniture, mirrors, televisions, and pictures. It didn’t seem like this year was going to be a year for decorating or the holidays at all. Plans for dinners, decorating fun, caroling, Christmas parties, shopping trips, and everything else that always was part of the “JOY” of Christmas for me, hung like a dark cloud above my head. The pit of my stomach ached with dread just thinking about everything that needed to be done.

Finally, in between trying to keep up with laundry, cleaning the house, the kids activities and needs, making meals, and trying to maintain my sanity, I did manage to begin the process of decorating. Honestly though, the process was not fun. All the while I kept stressing about being so far behind, wondering if I’d ever get it done in time to invite friends and family over, and practically giving up every time something went wrong — and lots went wrong.

The first tree I put up took me two days to fix the lights. I burned a hole in the new drapes I made for the great room door wall when I ironed them. I blew two plugs because I didn’t follow my own rules on lights allowed per plug. Every time I turn on my villages at least two houses go out so I change the bulbs, but then another goes out. And then the unspeakable happened…I hung one of my most prized decorations, a portrait of Santa, above the mantel and ten minutes later it came crashing to the ground, shattering the glass, splitting the frame at all four corners, scratching Santa’s face, and leaving several gouges on the print.

At this point I knelt among the shards of glass and began to cry. Hubby and Grace both came running, but there was nothing they could do. Although this portrait was not my oldest decoration, it was one of my favorite and one that I bought during a dark time in my family’s life that symbolized hope for a brighter future. The crumpled frame, shattered glass, and damaged picture all mirrored how I felt about the upcoming holiday season–broken. For several days I avoided doing any decorating, leaving boxes scattered everywhere, decorations strewed all over the floor, the basement completely in upheaval, the house a total mess. Yep, I had a holiday meltdown and it wasn’t even December.

For some reason this holiday season felt like a job, not the “Most Wonderful Time Of Year” that I thought it should. Everything I touched seemed to break or lose it’s luster. I felt no joy, no excitement, no childlike anticipation as I had for so many years. And the worst part was that for the first time since my grandmother died in 1999 I could not feel her presence as I decorated. My grandparents were my inspiration for going to such lengths to transform my home every year into a Christmas Wonderland and even after my grandmother died, I could feel her with me as I decorated my home. I’m not sure if it’s because my grandfather passed away this past July and now that they have been reunited, they are both decorating up in heaven finally leaving me for good or if the stress that has plagued our home for the past several months is just taking its toll, but this season started out very hard.

Hubby and Grace both went to great lengths to find a replacement for my portrait, to no avail. The artist no longer paints and the limited edition print was not to be found. Hubby did manage to clean out the broken glass, glue the frame back together and fix the picture as best as he could. I plan on trying to hang it again tomorrow and under the majestic glow of Christmas lights I hope the flaws in the print will not be noticeable.

Eventually I pulled myself together and began to push forward on the decorating front. The house is decorated, as decorated as I plan on making it. The only thing left to do is put the ornaments on the family Christmas tree in the great room. Hubby, Grace and Zeb all helped start that process this afternoon and even if not another ornament gets hung, it’s perfect.

Hubby sat down with me today to talk about the holidays and what plans we have. We agreed we need to step back and rethink the season. Although I definitely enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays, perhaps the hustle and bustle from the past several months just burned me out and now is the time to recoup a bit. Hubby suggested we get through the holidays as stress-free as possible and then have people over. He even said to leave the decorations up until we’re done celebrating, why feel tied down by dates on the calendar.

Sometimes having someone acknowledge your feelings is all it takes to pull you out of a rut. With his words, Hubby took the pressure off of me to make this holiday season “perfect.” He gave me back the perspective I’d lost on why I love this time of year and what is truly important.

Tonight I took the kids and Bell to an outdoor mall and we walked among thousands of Christmas lights, listening to holidays music, drinking Starbuck’s holiday drinks, and wishing all we saw a Happy Holiday. Then when we got home Grace and I did holiday facials and made plans to make homemade candy and cookies TOGETHER next week.

A lot of the time during the holidays it seems like all I’m doing is working to get everything done for the holidays…counting the days. December 1st begins the final countdown and flies by. Not this time. I am really going to try to enjoy the rest of December and make the most of every day in the coming year with my family and friends. Christmas is a state of mind, not a time of year, and I need to remember this always, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

6 responses

  1. So glad to hear that there was an, a-hem, ‘intervention’ and that your Christmas season is back on track, slightly abridged this year but still so rich and rewarding. Every year of our lives is a little different than the one before, as is every season, and we are wise to address that reality. Because this was “The Year of the Skunk” maybe this is also the year for Christmas, just a “simpler, kinder, gentler” one. The rest of the decorations aren’t going anywhere, they’ll all still be there next year. In the meantime, 2015 can still be it’s own kind of Christmas. Funny … OK, maybe not so funny … that that message would come via skunk mail.
    So, do you think that the little ornament should get a gender, a name or a little red bow … uhm, OK, maybe that’s pushing it …

    • It’s definitely going to have to be a simpler year, that’s for sure. Dropped my phone in a sink full of water Saturday and it’s a goner, so tonight I get to spend the evening at the AT&T store to see what cheap phone I can get. It’s as if everything that can go wrong…but looking at the bright side, I haven’t had a new phone since 2011 and I think I have a free one coming. Nothing smart, but then I had an ancient phone that I was comfortable with anyways. As long as they don’t charge me for a new sim card I should be fine. Of course I get to stand in those wonderful holiday lines though…again, that’s okay, I have on a Christmas sweater, red pants, Christmas leg warmers, a Christmas scarf and I’ll have on my Christmas wool coat along with my Christmas purse — I’m screaming with holiday spirit! Look out holiday shoppers, here I come.

      • Oh my goodness, your cell phone! Hopefully everything important is salvageable. There you go again turning lemons into lemonade! Turning a lost cell phone into an opportunity to be a Christmas fashion plate – you should post a picture so the rest of us can be envious – new phone, fashion sense and great attitude! It’s going to be a great Christmas after all!
        P.S. Did you get a red and green cell phone cover? Did you program Christmas jingles into it?!? Hee-hee! Or should I say – Ho-Ho(Ho)!

      • I wish I could do any of those wonderful things on my new old phone (have Graces old phone, just like my old one except it works). With an old phone there aren’t many options other than perhaps spray painting it myself — which believe me, I’ve thought about.

  2. Hope you do find your grove again… I have a mixed reaction this year happy and sad too… new house … new decorations… happy happy… losing grandma last month and not going to decorate her tree this year Sad sad sad sooo I did get the house decorated as best as i could and now I am just cleaning and mailing the packages until the weekend… I needed a break anyway… hope you love your new phone! what a mess…

    • No new phone, just moved my sim card to Grace’s old phone just like my dead phone. Perhaps one day I’ll move into a smart phone, but for now I’m content being behind the times. Relax a bit and enjoy the holidays, I know I’m trying to, succeeding a bit, but still have a ways to go. Happy Holidays!

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