Sunday, December 12, 2010

Struggling to Reach The End

by Amanda Forester

Can I see a show of hands of people who are utterly stressed right now? Do you see my hand waving wildly in the air? December for me is full of deadlines. I must send packages by a certain date. I must have my house ready for people to visit. I must buy presents, and cook the dinner, and decorate the house, and send the cards, and (most important) be filled with holiday cheer.

This year to add to the normal pressure I've had writing deadlines, work deadlines, and illnesses of myself and my family pressing for my attention and time. We are also remodeling part of our house and hosting a family reunion (hopefully the remodel will be finished before my family arrives next week.). Oh yeah - I've been STRESSED.

This type of pressure can lead to unfortunate incidents such as using some very un-holiday like language after burning a pie, or screaming the kids to stop wiggling and SMILE for the camera or so help me... Ahem. Of course those would be just random examples, not thinking of anyone in particular.

Lately, I've been struggling to get to The End. Instead of enjoying working on the task at hand, I have just wanted to get it over with so I could move on to the next item on my ‘to do’ list. I’ve been staying up late and waking up early, and working, working , working. I have been successful in making some of my deadlines, but others, not so much. It can be easy to get discouraged.

One of my favorite holiday specials is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (the original animated version) by Dr. Seuss. The story reminds me that Christmas is more than all the holiday trappings we give to it. Without all the cards, decorations, toys, and food, it is still Christmas. It is not about struggling to get to the end of the holiday season, it is about enjoying the process.

So maybe my cards won’t go out on time this year. Maybe I won’t make all my deadlines, and maybe my bathroom has a gaping hole where there should be a door. But these things are not important – right?

What is important is enjoying the process and being present in every moment, not living for the day when I have finished a list of tasks.

Have you yet reached The End of your holiday ‘to do’ list? Here’s wishing you peace and joy this season and the ability to enjoy every crazy minute!

14 comments:

  1. Hi Amanda, I feel your pain! I've had to do major remodeling just to replace my stove that has been out since last year. But I have to have it done before Christmas dinner! What with working and everything else, it's hard to get everything done. And today I'm in Australia! At least in spirit!!! Which I realized when I received notice that my post was up after I got home from work last night, that their day had already started, hours before ours did!!!

    Hope your remodeling woes are over with soon! And good luck on writing THE END!

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  2. Christmas Eve is the second most violent night of the year in American homes, coming in right behind Super Bowl Sunday (with the city of the winning team being worse than the loser's venue). You are not alone, Amanda, in experiencing Christmas as stressful, and you are brave to say so.

    And your point is brilliant: Writing is life. If all you're doing is struggling to get to "the end" you're losing out on much of the pleasure of the exercise.

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  3. I have scarcely started on my Christmas to-do list. Procrastination is my middle name. I give new meaning to last minute shopper. I'm the exact opposite with writing though, because I love to do it. I'm almost finished with a book that's due in March. The only part in the writing process that stresses me out is revisions and not because of deadlines, because the story is never the same after them and it doesn't read correctly to me anymore. Drives me bonkers.

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  4. Wonderfully astute blog, Amanda! A dear friend of mine said yesterday that she needs more elves to make Christmas happen. I agree!! Am trying to pare down the to-do list where I can....we'll see. ;-) (BTW, funny side note, but just noticed that for me this time, the word verfication below reads: bless. Cool!)

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  5. Oh, I can so relate! It seems like Christmas just adds to my huge to-do list, and that makes it hard to enjoy. But then when it's over I'm always sad and can't wait for it to come around again.

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  6. Oh Lord! Trying to remodel the house at Christmas? You really didn't have to say anything else.

    Try to take it easy on yourself. Remember the lesson from the Grinch, which is that Christmas will come with or without the trappings.

    And by the way, I agree that the first version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, in every way, better than the dumbed down, prettied up later version. "You're a Mean One, Mr.Grinch" is full of the funniest insults I ever heard. And I tear up every time the Hoos sing the line, "Christmas day is in our grasp, as long as we have hands to clasp."

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  7. Amanda: Sending a hug your way ... know exactly what you are talking about this year. It's a "been there, done that, wore out six T-shirts to prove it, year" at our house, too!
    Thank goodness for escapism in writing or I'd be bonkers!

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  8. Amanda, thanks for vocalizing what so many of us feel at this time of the year. What is it about December and the holidays that makes it so easy to overextend ourselves, to forget how to say 'no'?

    I'd like to propose a gift to ourselves: the gift of care.

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  9. Not even close! I'm probably in better shape than I think, but I will be glad to see the new year!

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  10. Terry - good luck with your remodel! I can be so disruptive when you find you have no water or internet service. Hopefully you'll be able ot cook a wonderful Christmas dinner!

    Grace - yikes - those are some scary statistics.Fortunately my good cheet can generally be restored with liberal amounts of chocolate. Despite the stress, Christmas is my favorite holiday!

    Olivia - I had never thought of that with edits, but can definitely see it. I always need to take care that if Ichange one thing, I change everything else to keep it consistent. Good luck with your holiday 'to do ' list!

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  11. Catherine - where do I sign up for some of those elves? That is exactly what I need!

    Shana - I always look forward to Christmas, but sometimes in the midst of the stress I lose sight of the joy. It really is my favorite holiday!

    Mary Margret - I do so love the Grinch! The Hoos really have the right idea - I need to be more like them! Glad I'm not the only one to get a little misty at the end!

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  12. Carolyn - Thanks - here's sending a hug right back to you too! Hope this new year will see things calm down for you. Isn't "normal" a wonderful thing? Yes, I'd be lost without my stories!

    Tamara - that is the best gift ever! Taking careof ourselves is so needed and often neglected, and yet the only way to care for anyone else is to make sure we actually have something to give. Wishing you a fun relaxing holiday.

    Cheryl - I'm with you sister! Good luck and I hope you can have a little fun as you get things done.

    Wishing everyone peace an joy this holiday season!

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  13. Sorry I missed this post yesterday. I'm there with you, Amanda. The remodel (DH came downstairs with so much drywall dust on him, if he gained a little weight, he'd look like Frosty the Snow Man), the deadline- 12/15, the no-time to do anything remotely Christmasy except buy tickets to see Twinkle Toes in The Nutcracker next weekend along with my Mother-In-Law and my Mother. The house is full of drywall dust and needs to get cleaned, I've purchased 1 Christmas present, oh, and did I mention my Mothers are coming on Friday and the house needs to be cleaned? God help me. I'm suffering from PMS - Pre Mother Syndrome.

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