Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday stress

(Before I move forward with my blog entry for today, I want to point out I did finally put on some Christmas tunes. I inlcuded two songs from a Cincinnati band, Over the Rhine. My husband and I used to attend their holiday concert every year, which took place in an old theater in the Over the Rhine section of downtown Cincinnati, my old stomping grounds. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!)

It has hit. The stress of the holiday that at times just makes me want it to be over. I hate it when I feel that way and I fight those thoughts. I try to focus on the positive results of all the stress - being with family, seeing my kids enjoy the gifts I traveled near and far for and celebrating the faithfulness of the holiday, though we have been a little lax on that this year, unfortunately.

We are starting a new Christmas Eve tradition in our family this year. Most years, we do our own immediate family thing with just the five of us. We used to go out for a very nice dinner, but our kids don't necessarily enjoy that. After all, if it doesn't come in a paper box with a side of fries, the food is worthless to them. So this year I am cooking each person what they want for dinner. Typically, on the nights I cook for us, there is always at least one person who could do without that night's meal due to the variety of tastebuds in our home. From now on, on Christmas Eve, all of us get exactly what we want. So my husband and I will be having steaks and potatoes with a yummy salad and maybe some steamed aspargus. Big E is having a corn dog and waffle fries. Sous Chef is having home made Skyline Chili spaghetti and CJ wants a corn dog AND a hot dog. They are all very excited because it's unheard of that I would prepare four different meals for one dinner. I have already been asked if we are going to do this every year and got big smiles when I said, "YES!" We will then head off to church.

In the past, it has worked out that doing a Christmas Eve with "just us" celebration has not been a problem. For three years, we weren't in the vicinity of family so it just worked out. Prior to that, it worked that we were with my family on Christmas Day, so Christmas Eve was not even considered. And as for my in-laws, we either don't see them for the holidays or we would go visit the day after Christmas and again, Christmas Eve was not an issue. They live about four hours away.

Well, this year, my in-laws (parents and siblings/families) are coming to our house late on Christmas Day to stay through the weekend. It is "officially" our year to celebrate with them as we rotate Thanksgiving and Christmas between the two families. This year was our Thanksgiving year and we hosted at our house. So, we had decided to do our own thing on Christmas Eve and celebrate Christmas with my my parents and brother/family a little early, which we did on Sunday. That has gone over like a lead balloon with my mom. My brother and his family invited us and my parents to their house for Christmas Eve since we are all in town but would be somewhere else on Christmas Day. We declined and you would have thought I told my family, mainly my mom, that I never wanted to celebrate another holiday with them as long as I live. She informed me over a week ago, "I know this is going to make you mad, but we are VERY disappointed you will not be coming on Christmas Eve." My response, "OK." She didn't like that. I made no excuses for our absence, so she went on. I basically just said, "We are looking forward to an evening to ourselves doing what we want to do. It is rare that happens."

So since she didn't get her way, she is now acting like a two year old. Thankfully, with three kids, I have a lot of experience with that and I just ignore her and don't cater to it. They were here Sunday and she moped and pouted better than any child could. Though the attempt to make me feel guilty fails, it does piss me off. Why can't she be happy with what she DOES have? Instead of enjoying the day that we WERE all together, instead of being thankful I hosted a shitload of our family on Thanksgiving, she chooses to pout and act childish when she doesn't get us on her terms, when she wants us and how she wants us. Too bad she doesn't recognize her passive-aggressive behavior and comments only alienate me more and make me want to spend LESS time with her. And then my dad suffers, too. I don't understand CHOOSING to be miserable, to pout when you could be enjoying time together. I don't understand why one wouldn't be thankful for what is right in front of you instead of moping about how you want it to be. I don't understand CHOOSING to ignore the good things and focus on everything that she thinks is wrong, mainly with me. There are so many times I wish we still lived 600 miles away. Or that we hadn't turned down the transfer to New Orleans. Or that the transfer to Boston had worked out.

Oh well. I will manage. This has been going on for years. I do CHOOSE to at least TRY to focus on the good things I have, the important things that I am thankful for, even when it's not perfect.

I am still working on a few Christmas cards. Some will probably be late. Some will never make it because I inadvertanly will leave someone off the list. And if history repeats itself, there will be at least one person who gets TWO cards from this household!

Merry Christmas to all of you bloggers who I don't have personal addresses for because if I did, I would send you a card. Or two.

Altered English word of the day - actually, based on today's post I am selecting TWO since they apply to the family situation. Though their meanings are the exact opposite of how we use them today.

Cranky - Brisk, merry, jocund. (William H. Cope, A Glossary of Hampshire Words and Phrases, London, 1883).

Used in a sentence: Peggy was so cranky that the neighborhood children loved spending time with her.

Compassionate - Lamenting, complaining. (Alexander Dyce, A Glossary to the Works of Shakespeare, London, 1902)

Used in a sentence: Frederick was so compassionate that his friends and family soon grew tired of his constant negativity.

Now if I were to use both words in a sentence, with their original meanings, I would say: My mom's compassionate behavior made us run screaming from the room, which made all of us cranky because we were able to get away from her.

In current day's meaning: My mom's cranky behavior made us run screaming from the room, showing no compassionate feelings for her at all.


  1. I am always in awe of your patience, but I know it does come with a price. Please tell me you have enough of an "out" here in this blog because if you don't, please tell me you will get one! Good thoughts your way~

  2. Familes are great aren't they? And they wonder why sometimes we'd rather just be with friends rather than family! Sigh!

  3. Good for you for sticking to your plans. Your family deserves to have a holiday spent the way you WANT to spend it. Enjoy the 4-dinner-extravaganza!

  4. I like the original sentence--it's like it's written in code or something:)

  5. Corn dog AND hot dog together! That is just TOO funny! I love it! :)

  6. Kim, this is totally unrelated, but I started my own blog too and I am having technical difficulties adding my playlist. Do you have any tips? Thanks a bunch! :)

  7. Kim,

    Merry Christmas. I am so friggin' behind on everything blog related but who cares? I'm hanging with the kids and the dude who has TWO WEEKS OFF and we are so lazy but it's our Christmas present to ourselves. : - )

    So happy to have "met" you in '08 and we'll see what adventures await in '09!


  8. when it comes to my parents, I often wonder who is the child here.

  9. Sounds like your mom's being a hypocrite, too. It's so important to be with family on THAT DAY, but she's behaving like a child when she DOES have you. Can you tell her how you feel?