You are writing this on January 10 for you to read sometime around Thanksgiving of next year. Right now you are utterly and completely overwhelmed. You were manic in the month of December. You had a breakdown on Christmas day. Since the holidays ended you have been digging as hard as you can to get yourself out from under the mountain of to-dos, many of which were neglected in favor of the holiday fervor. Suffice it to say, when put this way, this Christmas past doesn’t sound like a success.
So here are your current thoughts about it:
1. You are a Christmas freak in a family of non-Christmas-freaks. Your daughter will be a completely different person next year of course, but this year, she wasn’t into it. She doesn’t want to do things too early, so cool your jets until she’s actually on Christmas break. She doesn’t want too much stuff. She doesn’t want too many sweets. She does–brace yourself–want lots of attention and lots of experiences, so give her that. Gift giving? Try for her stocking plus three wrapped presents. You don’t even have to buy her something big; you know others will likely step up to that job, and even if they don’t, she doesn’t care.
2. Remember all those dreadful lectures about expectations and taking things as they are? Those are for you, dummy. Your kid has never in her life awoken early on Christmas morning or been eager to start opening presents. Don’t expect her to do that. Don’t expect her to be excited about sitting at the table for Christmas dinner either…and that goes for your husband, too. Don’t work hard cooking anything fancy. Just think of simple, tasty, treaty-feeling stuff that will keep everybody fed and relaxed. And those expectations? Evaluate whether asking for them as gifts would intrude on your family’s autonomy and individual enjoyment. What I mean is, when Sparks asks what you want for Christmas, consider saying “I want us to stay up late watching Rare Exports on Christmas Eve,” so he knows that you’re anticipating that, and is ready to stay up late.
3. Don’t try to schedule Christmasy activities with the kid (except The Nutcracker, because this year she was crazy about The Nutcracker). Don’t fuss about decorating cookies or a gingerbread house unless she indicates that she is ready to do it NOW. If you want to do a project like that, start doing it, and let her join if she chooses. Don’t let her boss you around and don’t you try to boss her around. You tossed a perfectly good gingerbread house kit this year because it got caught up in your power dynamics. Let. It. Go.
4. I know it sounds awful, but try to keep up with housework. Try to keep the house as tidy as possible, because Christmas goes off like a bomb. The New Year is a great time for major organizing and housecleaning, but girl, you only have so many hours in the day, and housecleaning isn’t the ONLY thing on your plate.
5. Are you still writing? Because right now you couldn’t care less about writing. Has that book sold? Because if it hasn’t, maybe you need to reevaluate the whole thing.