During the Christmas season, we yearn to establish family traditions and make lasting memories. We remember with fondness the feelings we experienced as children during this magical time of year- smells, food, music, decorations. What we didn't realize as children, is that for the adults, these memories are accompanied with a generous helping of stress.
My husband and I decided that decorating our tree would be a great activity for Family Home Evening this week. I found a story explaining the symbols of Christmas, and decided it would be a great way to tie in a remembrance of Christ. With each symbol, I would have my son take a coordinating ornament and hang it on the tree. Then, with Christmas music playing softly in the background, we would decorate the tree and laugh and reminisce over each ornament and the story behind it. We would then bask in the glow of our tree while nibbling on Joe-Joe's and sipping on eggnog. What a cozy scene....
In reality, when the time came for Family Home Evening, my baby girl was experiencing great discomfort and was only happy laying on her tummy on my knee while I bounced her. My husband had strained his back earlier that day and was unable to bend from the waist up without experience excruciating pain, let alone hold/comfort said baby. Therefore, the lesson was relegated to him. The lesson did not go as smoothly as anticipated (do we really not own one ornament with a candy cane?), but was fine. When it was time to decorate the rest of tree, my son's enthusiasm was uncontainable. A box was tipped over, ornaments nearly crushed, and bubble wrap and tissue paper strewn about. I handed out ornaments while I bounced my squirmy, baby girl. There was little time for reminiscing. Our normally delightful Christmas music began to annoy me. By the time we were done, my voice had found the forced happy tone that all mom's know (which only a trained ear can discern the volcano of anxiety and stress it is capping).
Reaching and putting ornaments on the tree proved too much for my husband's back. He sat and held the now calm baby while I prepared the refreshments. I did not care about cuteness anymore. I served the Joe-Joe's from their package. My husband drank his egg nog in the living room, while my son and I ate ours at the table. Things didn't go quite as planned, but it was over. Thank heavens.
Upon reflecting on this evening, I was sad that I did not enjoy the moment as I had hoped. As I wondered where things went wrong, I realized that what I experienced was probably not abnormal. I have crossed the threshold into adulthood. Sadly, being in charge of making memories is much more stressful than going along for the ride. But, I don't worry. Most importantly, I know in my son's eyes that it was a success. (I know this because during a seven day vacation this year, that included New York City, Niagara Falls, and Palmyra, his favorite part of the trip was swimming at our hotel pool). So I say, during this month give yourself the gift of simplicity. Hopefully, then we can enjoy the memories a little too. Until something breaks