Thursday, December 20, 2012

I'm Dreaming of an Honest and Gentle Christmas

2008.12.09 - Three Candles by a.drian, cc license
I've been under the weather for the past couple of weeks and I'm finally coming out of my congested haze. This is pretty atypical for me. I don't get sick very often and when I do, I'm usually back to normal in a couple of days. It's as if, after finishing all of the work for my Master's (woo-hoo!), my body had had enough and insisted I lie low. And, after all, it's the holiday season and the end of the year: A time for laying low, taking it easy, and reflecting - right?

Yeah, not so much for me, either.

Last year's holiday madness came to a head at 3am on December 20th. I was hopped up on coffee (I don't drink coffee normally but I needed some for a recipe) and I was merrily, manically driving myself and Jason through a massive to-do list. Jason couldn't understand why his to-do list suddenly, at this hour, included wrapping and packing gifts and why the cookies were off limits. I couldn't understand why he wasn't completely on board with my unilateral decisions on how we would celebrate the holiday and the mile long to-do list I had created for us. Once the smoke cleared, we decided that we would head off the madness next year by having a discussion about all of our holiday plans and expectations earlier in the season.

We stuck to that plan this year and began the process of getting on the same page back at Thanksgiving. And this year has been better, perhaps not as dreamy, peaceful, and stress-free as I had hoped, but better. We still have had our share of miscommunications and disagreements, which are of course positively correlated with stress levels. However, I think we're also becoming more aware of these patterns in our relationship and we're being more honest about our thoughts on and feelings towards different holiday traditions. It's a process.

My hope for next year is that we can create a shared vision for the holiday - how we'll spend our time, how we'll feel, who we'll see, and how many varieties of Christmas cookies will be present - and then work backwards, deciding which traditions and activities to keep and which to cut.

Related, but  tangential, my daughter's wonderful Aunt Angela sent her a wonderful book a few weeks ago: Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney. Highly recommend it.

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