A Very Merry Christmas This Year

Another Christmas came and went and while it was wonderful, I feel like I need to sleep it off. It’s funny – I never really thought about how people need to recover from a good holiday, probably because the holidays are a harder-than-usual time for me. And then there is the holiday stress that seems unavoidable whether it revolves around hosting family or some unexpected drama, the holidays is a time when everything is heightened. I mean everything.

But this year was lacking in the drama department (that is not a complaint!) and while some of the regular stress was there such as kitchen nonsense or lack of sleep went down (seriously, I’m not sure the holiday season can exist without this) everything was great. But I am so flipping tired and run down and headachy I want to lock myself in a dark room and pass out, but since my body isn’t kind enough to let me, I am tempted to simply knock myself out. *I should also note that part of the “blah” this year was adjusting to new powerful hearing aids while in crowded conditions with kids (because kids are loud, again that is an expectation) which meant plenty of migraine-level headaches. Next time, I hope to not be adjusting to anything new and check those headaches at the door. I think that coupled with the sleep made me into a zombie those last few days.

My husband’s (Roy) family came out to visit us this year, so we hosted Christmas Eve while his brother hosted Christmas Day. I think it was the best Christmas I can remember in a long time. I had a great time with his family in 2011, but I was still getting to know them then. So that on top of wedding planning (got engaged less than a week before) and recovering from brain surgery (less than two weeks before) and the newness of it all – while it was wonderful, it also felt a little awkward (for me, as I internalize everything). In 2012 and 2014, we went to Florida and while we enjoyed ourselves both times, it’s not the same as having the holidays in your own home. I will not speak of 2013 (misunderstandings and hurt feelings all round it seemed, and I kind of wanted to lock myself in a bubble).

But this year was happy and joyful and full of family dinners, time at Roy’s brother’s house, our house, shopping excursions, group baking activities – all of the great stuff that are what this season is all about. I even minded the church service less than I have in the past (I’m just not a church person, I go for my husband and his family). But aside from all of that great stuff, now that it’s over I just want to sleep for a week.

I haven’t had more than five hours sleep (sometimes as little as three) since December 18. December 19 we went to bed at 5:00am because we had several Christmas tree issues. The tree that I deemed “jankity” kept falling over, even though it was secure and after it was all decorated, finally I refused to decorate it again until my husband weighted it down or anchored it, which he did and then we decorated it, took our picture for our Christmas cards, designed them and ordered them and then went to bed… but got up around 8:00 to meet his sister. We had a nice time finishing up some errands and having lunch with his sister – we just never planned on doing it on three hours of sleep!

Roy worked the next two days and I finished up the Christmas shopping, getting the house ready, his mother’s Christmas gift from me (super intensive project, but glad it all worked out and it was worth it) and getting a jump on baking anything I could do in advance. But between all of that and work deadlines, those days seemed to disappear as soon as they began. Then we did a group baking thing at our house for our nieces and nephew, which was nice but it’s always crazy. (You expect crazy with toddlers; it’s like in their job description.) Then we separated for shopping excursions – me and his mom and then Roy and everyone else. I had a great time, and I know Roy did too, but it also took up the entire day. (I seriously don’t know why this seemed to surprise either of us – it would logically take up the entire day, but we were both surprised. Go figure.)

Then it was Christmas Eve and we were up so late the night before getting ready and then the next day up so early and it was just such a kitchen clusterfuck. I’ll be honest – sometimes I kind of feel like just doing grilled cheese or something and screw all the desserts. But a nice big meal is important to my husband, and a bunch of desserts is the only tradition from my family that I hold onto, so there you go. I wanted Roy to push off dinner by an hour, but he was worried about making Christmas Eve service and we were scrambling to finish in the kitchen for about an hour after people started to arrive. (We even had to ask Roy’s sister to pick up some things we forgot, which was mortifying in a way, but she was great about it. And when she arrived she helped and seriously without her, it may have been a ninety minutes kind of thing. Super grateful, but that just makes me feel like a terrible host.) Then it was Christmas Eve service (again the most comfortable I’ve been in church, but still not comfortable enough to make it a regular thing) and then we went home and wrapped EVERYTHING. And the next day Roy wanted to make it to his brother’s farm for breakfast, but we had to do our Christmas morning, which meant getting up a little before 7:00am to make it on time, when we went to bed around 3:00. And you wonder why I’m tired?

My husband is lucky, he can nap and once he’s up he can go back to bed. But my body doesn’t love me that much. I seriously envy Roy’s sleeping abilities. I have had no such naps.

But despite being tired, I feel really good about this Christmas. I think we managed to get thoughtful gifts that people appreciated. And we got some in return. (For me it’s all about the thought of something, even if it isn’t the most practical or on your list – the thought says “I Care” which is why I am so against giving gift cards.) I think for the first time in, maybe ever, I feel really good about what we got people. Everything was thoughtful but also (hopefully) what they wanted. And some of the gifts were even made by us, so you know – it meant something.

And it’s impossible to think of any favorite gifts because everything we received was also thoughtful and perfect. Roy got a tripod that belonged to his grandfather that is a huge deal to him and some other great camera stuff. I got some baking stuff from Sarah Michelle Gellar’s line (which I did not know she had). Seriously, being a Buffy fan-atic, I cannot wait to get my bake on with that set. I think I’m going to make the vanilla cupcakes first, but I promised my husband we would finish all of our current goodies before I lifted a spoon, otherwise I would have already gone there. I also got a gingerbread baking basket that I am psyched to play with. Yes, Roy, not yet. Geez, what a killjoy. I also got a bunch of books I can’t wait to read (naturally).

And Roy and I still got to do our own thing: stockings for us and our animals and presents for us and our animals (hey they are our kids until we have kids). I think we both nailed it this year with each other (and Roy can be impossible to shop for since his list consists of measuring cups and coffee, and that’s about it). I also got us both stuffed animals, as per my self-imposed tradition. When we have kids, I intend to put stuffed animals in their beds while they sleep so I do that for my husband – this year he got an elephant (an inside joke about his memory) and I got myself a lion. Last year I only got Roy something and he loved the idea but felt bad he didn’t get me one, and I knew he’d forget haha, (remember I got him an elephant) so the lion was to take care of that.


The Elephant and the Lion

This Christmas was perfect in so many ways, even if it was no less exhausting. I think that’s my big goal for the next Christmas we have out here, to make it more low-key and less exhausting, without stepping on my husband’s toes. In the meantime, I’ll take whatever sleep my body allows now that there are no more late nights or super early mornings. So two days later, I am seriously sleep-deprived but happy. And it’s better to be sleep-deprived and happy than sleep-deprived and not.

Overall, it was a great time, and I’m thankful for that. Everyone enjoyed themselves and each other, and really that’s what this holiday is all about.


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