So, now I teach part-time at an elementary school in the mornings. (I don’t think I have shared that tidbit here.) I teach reading to 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders, and last week, they all turned into werewolves due to the collision of the full moon and Halloween. My once sweet precious babies, grew fangs, fur and vicious tempers and the simple fact that I survived last week was a miracle. Each day, the kids arrived in my classroom wound tighter than the day before, and when Friday arrived, they were literally vibrating. If I lost a smidgen of control they would have pinged off the walls like an on-slot of bouncy balls shot out of a cannon. Death by bouncy-ball would not be my first choice … but last week it was a possibility.
Here is a picture of me almost loosing my mind last Thursday… seriously, this ghost was my only friend.
And here are my kids at Trunk or Treat… because… well, look at them… it’s just the cutest. I can’t even. This year we had an “Elsa with a wig”, a “finja turtle” and an astronaut. I do love Halloween!
As Halloween came to a close, and the first of November approached my tension increased and I could feel the pressure of the holidays winding me tighter every day. The holidays are creeping up on me, and I don’t like it one bit! I am not just talking about the ridiculousness of Hobby Lobby’s Christmas aisles, but memes of Will Ferrell counting down weeks until Christmas are all over my newsfeed (I believe the last one I saw said 7 WEEKS!) and I have even seen a few of my “friends” pin “Elf on the Shelf” shenanigans… (Due to this offense we are no longer Pinterest friends… I just cannot… CANNOT… handle it.. or Him… or any of it.)
So, as my mind took off in a panic, my heart grabbed him by the shirt, shook him, slapped him a few times and told him to calm down and BREATHE. Deeeeep breath in….. Deeeeeeep breath out….. I reminded myself that I do not have to engage in the craziness of the holidays. I am giving myself permission to SLOW DOWN, and to choose an alternate way than my typical edgy-anxious-holiday-self. So, I decided to write out a Holiday Creed. I have been reminded that journaling is therapeutic. Yes, this isn’t a new concept to me, as I have filled several diaries since I was 11 years old, but these old habits are healthy and help me release and remember what matters.
I wanted to share a few of the things I have decided upon before entering the holiday season.
#1: WHEN HOMEMADE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER…. IT IS OKAY TO BUY A HOLIDAY PIE
Hello, you… there… yes, you… with the overloaded pinterest board of apple crumb pies and pumpkin cheesecake recipes… if you need to, I give you permission find a boxed pie and pop it in the oven for Thanksgiving. If your Great Aunt Sue, signed you up to bring something for the dessert table, it is just as tasty, and a lot less work to call your local bakery and reserve a yummy scrumptious pie. And guess what, a store-bought pie is usually under 10$ and a bakery pie can run around 25-30$… probably less than you were going to spend on all the ingredients for your homemade pie, plus, you can take a nap with your extra time, or play a game of go-fish with your kids, and you avoid the grocery store… win, win, win. And guess what, if you feel like baking a pie, go for it… just don’t make it miserable for the whole family, and most importantly yourself.
#2: WHEN EVERYONE ELSES KIDS ARE WEARING TURKEY SHIRTS AND MATCHING PLAID…. IT IS OKAY IF YOUR KIDS AREN’T… (gasp!)
Why do I feel guilty for this? It is simply ridiculous, and I know it. But it’s true. I saw a pair of girls bounding out of the kid’s school last week in little Halloween dresses and I immediately thought about how I failed to buy any Halloween clothes for the kids. Then I came to my senses… but it happens! You see a friend post a cute matchy-matchy picture of their kids in holiday outfits and then you turn your head and glance over at your own kid on the couch sporting his red sweat pants and a turquoise tank top with hair that hasn’t been washed in three days. It happens. The fact is that their kid was probably looking the same way a few hours before they put on that crisp new outfit and snapped a quick picture. Let that guilt slide right off our shoulders friend and go give that bed-headed-kid a hug and smooch, because he/she is YOURS and for that YOU ARE THANKFUL, no matter what they are wearing.
#3: WHEN YOU HAVE 8 PLACES TO BE IN ONE WEEK…. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO EVERY THING YOURE INVITED TO
Since Denver is on staff at our church, we are invited to MANY MANY MANY holiday events. We cannot attend all of them, my expectations are oftentimes unrealistic. Telling people no, and choosing a quiet night for your family to recharge, is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Don’t feel guilty about this, down time can be precious time.
Also, if you have a particularly toxic family situation during the holidays, you don’t have to engage. Make the choice before hand to leave early, or simply don’t go at all. Chose to do something different. Just because your family “always” does something, doesn’t mean YOU “always” have to… just food for thought.
#4: WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS PULLING AT YOU…. MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY
Take a nap, go work-out, read a book, walk the aisles of Target by yourself…. intentionally do something that recharges you. I learned the hard way this past spring that neglecting yourself can cause a ripple effect in your family. When you forget to make yourself a priority, you are dismissing your physical health as well as your mental health. The greatest gift you can give your family is to be healthy and stable; which takes work. It took me 7 years to “unravel”, but I finally did this past spring. My stress level sky rocketed and I was not taking care of myself, so my body rebelled and did all kinds of funky things. The holidays are stressful; and to prevent your body and your mind from checking out, you need to be proactive by giving yourself a chance for adequate exercise and rest.
#5 WHEN YOU START TO DRINK THE HOLIDAY KOOL-AID…. REMEMBER WHAT THE HOLIDAYS ARE ABOUT
Our culture has spun a vicious web of marketing and media around some of the most sacred days of our year. Thanksgiving is an invitation to pause and give thanks for those we love and the blessings we have received, while Christmas is a celebration of the new covenant; the coming of Jesus. Jammed together, just weeks apart, our society has monopolized these weeks of our calendar, hijacking them for their own greedy agendas. It is important to remind ourselves of this, and to remember that the little things they are whispering to us through commercials, advertisements and sales pitches, are not the true meaning for our celebration. If we can remember again and again to center our thinking on the true purpose, we will avoid the black hole of the holiday season!
Make the choice to SLOW DOWN this holiday season!! Wave the white flag and surrender to all of the unattainable standards you set for yourself. The most important thing is to enjoy your family and friends, and celebrate the blessings you have received and the hope you have. HUGS to all you Mommas just trying to make it until tomorrow. We can do this!!! Let’s leave a legacy of warm and happy holiday seasons for our children, not one that is stressed out, rushed and chronically crazy. 🙂