Yesterday I was asked "So, how is the holiday chaos going?"
I paused, only a moment. "It's not," I replied. "There really isn't any chaos."
My answer made me reflect on that. I have seen many articles written in the last month about how to simplify the holidays, make things easier, faster, and how to make time for family. Whether you call it chaos, craziness, busyness or stress, there seem to be so many negative emotions associated with these celebratory times.
That's not to say that having a packed schedule is a bad thing; for some people it's exactly what they love about the holidays. They love hosting and attending parties, baking boxes of homemade treats, lingering in the stores, listening to concerts, and driving through winter scenes to visit friends and family.
For me, that would be chaos, and it would leave me stressed. And it appears that this is the case for so many others also, given the many articles out there on how to de-stress your holiday. So what have I done this year? What tips or secrets to getting to all those parties without children melting down, or without melting myself in an over-heating kitchen from an oven running 24/7? It's all about pacing.
What is your pace? Mine is a slow one. I noticed this year that I have an aversion to writing more than one thing per day on my calendar. No matter the length of the appointment (15 minutes or 2 hours), I don't schedule more than one. There's a temptation that if the first meeting is a short one, then I could conceivably add two or three more. But I don't. There's a lot to getting out the door in my life right now, and so I leave it at one.
Baking? I might do it, I might not. If I was invited by a friend or family member to bake for an evening, I would probably go. If the mood struck me one night to make a couple of batches of cookies, I would. If Christmas Day came and went without Christmas baking, that would be alright, too. Just like the Grinch realized, Christmas will come without ribbons, tags, packages, boxes or bags (or Christmas baking, or dinner parties, or concerts, or big presents.)
This year we didn't get our Christmas lights up outside. That's okay. We're going to take a drive and look at everyone else's displays. (Christmas will come without lights.)
We do love music at this time of year, and so our commitments were made to choirs and bands and solos and other performances. Which meant less time for other things. Christmas gifts for teachers were not homemade this year. (Christmas will come without those also.)
I wanted the boys to make gifts for each other. I had some more elaborate ideas, but because most of them will need assistance (or supervision) for the entire gift, I had to scale it back. (Christmas will come.)
Christmas will come. The days and nights will pass and Christmas day will come. This year, I have chosen a pace that will bring peace and joy. It will bring books read by the tree and the carols on the violin and guitar. It will bring time with friends, and time at home. It will be exactly the pace I need to be calm and happy, setting the same tone in my house and for my family.