I turned my shopping cart down the aisle in the big box craft store and felt tension immediately creeping into my neck. It was September and I was staring at trees, lights, ornaments and wrapping paper in an explosion of green and red. That tension was a sign that I was bracing myself for the stress that usually overcomes overs me in regards to the holiday season. Only this year it was already starting in September. The stress was also known as Christmas.
The holiday season is often a silent scream that is aimed at adults, often times moms who seem to often orchestrate the magic that surrounds the holidays. TV commercials, Facebook event reminders, school events all become reminders of the traditions and magic that should be created each year. As a mother and wife I took that responsibility on, to make the season magical for my loved ones. Pinterest and Instagram brought the expectations to a whole new level these past few years.
I can sit and reflect on past years where gifts, stockings, hosting parties, decorating the home, taking the perfect photos, all left me feeling empty and breathing a sigh of relief on the December 26. But this year as I sat at a recent MOPS meeting, watching a video about this exact stress, I decided that this year Christmas would be different.
Christmas is about love coming down to Earth. It is the story about a mother and her baby. In particular I am reminded of the verse “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke, 2:19). I look at my three beloved children and am reminded every day of how quickly they are growing. About how limited my time of actually having them under my roof really is. It is all fleeting moments and I am determined to not let the stress take over my holidays anymore. Instead I have made a conscious decision to limit our commitments, and choose family and quality time this season.
My husband and I have decided to focus on three festive events this Christmas season. Beyond that we are not stressing about fitting everything else in. If we can squeeze in a few extra events, great! If not, no big deal. We actually took out our calendars over Thanksgiving and scheduled in activities to make sure that time was blocked out.
For our family, the first event we chose was experiencing the lights at Meadowlark Botanical Garden in Vienna, Virginia. This spectacular display of holiday lights that you can walk through has been on my list of things to do for 10 years now. By strategically planning our time we were able to accomplish this event and were lucky enough to pair it with a visit with great friends.
If you are planning on going to Meadowlark make sure to go online and purchase your tickets earlier in the week. The time slots do sell out on the weekend. There are often discounts offered weekdays through Certifikid or their Facebook page. Dress warm as you will be outside for an hour or so. We brought the stroller which worked well for our 17 month old. Even though it was 7, his bedtime, he was so distracted by the beautiful lights that he was fine. At the end there is a stand to purchase hot cocoa, smores supplies to roast by the fire, and popcorn. If you are looking for a good quick dinner before or after, try Church Street Pizza. It’s delicious, in particular their white pizza and meat lovers.
How do you manage the holiday stress? Are you starting any new traditions this year?