I'm a big fan of Christmas. I love the smell of a fresh-cut pine tree and never worry about the needles in my carpet. I love knowing all the children will be home and enjoying their favorite foods. I love the songs, the foods, the shopping, the presents…I even like fruitcake. Granted, not every holiday season has turned out to be the Norman Rockwell painting that flashes through my brain. Like most mothers I've faced the challenge of irritable children, frustrated in-laws, and burnt pies.
Though I seem to have an inexhaustible positive attitude about the season, I have experienced complete meltdowns. A run to my bedroom for a private hissy fit, lots of prayer followed by a deep breath, and I'm ready to go again. I totally sympathize with overloaded moms who dread extended family dinners and parties. It can feel as though Halloween through New Years is a continuous marathon cooking show specializing in spiders climbing cupcakes, Oreo dirt pudding, decorated cookie ornaments, 60 ways to re-plate turkey, and how to make a football stadium out of cheese and parsley. Add all the trick-or-treat safe gatherings, potluck suppers, choir practice, plays, cookie exchanges, shopping, and Santa Claus lines filled with screaming children dressed in red velvet, and you have the makings of a postseason nervous breakdown. (I'm exhausted just writing about it.) Throw in three children excited about Christmas vacation while sleep deprived and sugar infused, and you have a recipe for disaster.1