Lots of people do and, with due respect to the men we love, it’s usually the women who bear the burden of holiday preparations.
Personally, I really enjoy decorating and cooking, planning meals and shopping for gifts for everyone I love. That doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful and exhausting. As a perfect example of the way that our spirits make sure we do what’s best for us, here’s a story from my Christmas Day a couple of years ago:
I did all the work, as usual. I’m a widow, so there isn’t even a lazy husband to gripe about; I just have to do it. And I do enjoy it, but a few days before Christmas, I stood looking at all the gifts I had shopped for and wrapped, gleaming under the tree that I had decorated, and I thought, “I really work hard at this. It’s worth it to give my children a good, pleasant Christmas, but it would be great to have some help.”
Be careful what you wish for. Cut to Christmas Day. And I don’t use the word “cut” loosely. I am in the kitchen, plenty of able-bodied family around, and I am doing everything, even refusing the others’ offers to help. “No, no, thank you, I can do it myself.”
I’m carving the turkey–a man’s job, if you’ll pardon my sexism for a moment–and the blades on the electric knife get stuck. I unplug the knife, remove the blades, and try to un-jam them. Oh, yes, I manage to make a very nasty, bloody cut on my index finger.
Should we go to the hospital? I’m sitting on the floor, because I’m a fainter and I tend to faint when I hurt my hands or feet. I have my head down, trying not to pass out completely, mumbling orders to rinse the blood out of the sink and to look at my finger and tell me whether I should go to the ER. Daddy says yes. Boyfriend says maybe, it’s up to me.
Later, my doctor-sister tells me over the phone that I should definitely go, I probably need stitches, and the joint could be jeopardized. I feel like the little kid in that movie–“You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”
I opt out of the trip to the ER. But guess what… I can’t do it all anymore. I’m winged. I’m on the injured reserve list. I have to have help.
And you bet the whole family rallied and took care of stuff. I still directed, pointing with my bandaged finger, asking someone to put the potatoes on the table and someone else to fill the glasses. And someone finish carving the turkey!
And Christmas dinner was perfectly lovely. The throbbing notwithstanding.
My spirit knew that it wasn’t right for me or for anyone else if I did all the work. I was being selfish, in a way, keeping all the work to myself and then getting to play martyr. Mm-hm. Serves me right. But I got the message.
And how stressed-out do you get during the holidays? I’ll help with that! (12-10-10)