The Odd Thing About the Holidays

I probably complain about holiday stress more than anyone else.

The constant driving. Having to cook Beanie’s meals ahead of time. The spending. The date conflicts.

To reduce stress, I always try to find out everyone’s date in advance. There’s Rob’s relatives downstate. Rob’s relatives near our house. Rob’s immediate family. My grandma. My parents (and other grandma). Our friends. It’s crazy, crazy, crazy.

But this year it’s different. In the past, Rob’s mom had always planned everything, coordinated everyone.

Now they’ve got an adamant minimalist organizing their festivities for the most materialistic holiday known to mankind.

Good luck to them.

Being put in charge of the holiday celebrations has made me rethink a lot of the things that have, in the past, stressed me out. I know people who insist on staying in their home and making Christmas an intimate, family affair. We tried that for Thanksgiving once, and it was horribly depressing.

Horribly. Depressing.

True, I wasn’t looking forward to getting more stuff to clutter my house. But neither was anyone else. In fact, we all had been scaling down on presents already, making the focus mainly on the children.

For Rob’s family Christmas, we always drove 3 hours up north, to Ossineke (you know, the stop before Alpena, on our trip…). Years ago, when Grandma and Grandpa were alive, we had a crazy, fun party up there, that lasted 3-4 nights. Then, when people got married and had other obligations, the crowd dwindled. As much as we love the family cottage, we decided it would work much better if we all camped out at Rob’s dad’s house for a few days.

For Rob’s mom, cooking was a labor of love. For the two of us working wives, who are taking over, it’s more stress. Grilling brats will suffice.

But the reason that I couldn’t give this up, the reason that these family gatherings are important, has stayed the same.

It’s those crazy nights of playing Dominos, after Beanie has gone to bed. It’s getting to see Beanie’s new second cousin, who will be crawling soon. It’s the Bean and her other second cousin running around and laughing. It’s connecting with people who are very important to us, no matter how busy our lives get. As Kermit said in A Muppet Family Christmas (a movie we watch every year!) “Yeah, life would just pass in a blur if it weren’t for times like this.”

So, as you’re starting to plan your own get-togethers, remember not to sweat the small stuff. Focus on what’s important, and remember that you actually are glad to see everyone again!

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