Friday, December 2, 2011

Great but different expectations

I have no anxiety about being ready for Christmas. And I like it this way.

For more years than I'd care to admit, I thought too much about the perfect Christmas. Maybe it was because I had three little ones to surprise and delight, but there were years I'd aspire to finish my holiday shopping by November 1. Then a light bulb went on one year (or did it dim?) and I moved up my goal to September, until finally I dreamed about being done all my holiday shopping the summer before! It was all-consuming to "be done," but yet I never was. No matter how early I started, I'd still always be doing stuff right up until the end. Now I chuckle and think what nonsense was all that?

I can remember years where I'd have a bad dream that I forgot someone. I remember one year when I really did. I remember years when I was sewing like a fiend right up until it was time to attend a family party because I insisted that gifts for relatives had to be homemade (during brief delusional episodes). I remember years when I didn't get to bed Christmas Eve night until 4:30 a.m. because everything had to be just so.

So what's changed? I don't know for sure, but I think it's a combo that my children are all adults now and a realization that none of us really need anything. My goal for years has been to simplify (I'm still working on it) and another holiday tchotchke is the last thing I want or need.

What's always been important to me to celebrate Christmas has been good food, family, and friends. So I wasn't too far off track. Now that the kiddies are all grown, the food is more important to them, too. Although I have fond memories of those times, Christmas morning is no longer about the kiddies waiting patiently at the top of the stairs while exhausted mom and dad try to catch a few winks before giving the okay to scurry downstairs to open presents.

Once the children reached high school and college, their ideal Christmas morning was to sleep late, lounge around in pajamas, and indulge in what became our customary all-out Christmas brunch. Turns out everyone wants to enjoy the food around the table now before we even open gifts. And all that is okay with mom and dad. Certainly no arguments from us on a day to chill out with good eats and family.

No longer do I have a gift list to work from or goals to shop the sales and find the latest hot toy Santa told me one of our kiddies asked for. Yes, those were good times, but it's just as good now. No more panic-ridden thoughts racing through my mind to keep me up wondering whether I've found the perfect gifts. No more stress that it all has to be done by a certain date early in the season.

It took some time, but I've learned it all gets done. And if it doesn't, oh well. My parents love gift cards (Trader Joe's is a favorite) and the kids are so much easier to shop for as adults. I really only need one slow-paced day (treating myself to lunch and some gifts for myself along the way!) to accomplish my holiday shopping.

And I used to think that it was the worst to be out shopping right before Christmas, but now I find it's fun to enjoy a spirited day shopping with no pressure just a few days before the 25th.

Did I lower my expectations for a "perfect" Christmas? No. I'll always have great expectations for this special time of year. It's just great now in a different way. And that's just fine since health, food, and family are all we really need.

Until next time, yours in fun and great expectations...Therese

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