As much as I enjoy Christmas, I enjoy the weeks that follow it. I love the calm, the platters of half-eaten cookies, even the mess in the house. The work is over.
Three days before Christmas I had a meltdown. After 32 years of preparing Christmas for my family, you’d think that I’d learn how to avoid meltdowns, but I haven’t. Every year, I repeat the same pattern.
The month preceding Christmas, I gear up with baking, cleaning, buying yarn to knit things, pulling Christmas decorations out of the basement and stringing lights on the trees in front of our house. In addition to my normal workload, I add hours each day working to help make Christmas special for my family. In the beginning, I love it. I kindly ask my husband to help and he usually does. After a day or two, he loses interest and I find myself shopping alone, baking alone and decorating the Christmas tree alone. After a week or two of this, you can guess what I begin to do- feel sorry for myself that I’m working solo.
Still, in the spirit of being a “good mom,” I trudge on. I change bedsheets, cook casseroles and freeze them, buy gifts for the needy (usually my husband’s idea since I’m so busy) and help out with Christmas goings-on at church. By December 21st, I’m feeling like the supreme martyr and am more than eager for everyone in my family to heap praises and thank you’s over me. I deserve them because I’ve worked so hard to make everyone happy. The martyr in me begins to listen for kind words and gets annoyed when they don’t come.
So three days before Christmas, when my husband complained that I was irritable, I let him have it. How dare he criticize Mrs. Claus, Mother Teresa and Martha Stewart rolled into me? I was, after all, exhausting myself for him and the kids. The least he could do (since he clearly didn’t understand how hard I worked, how important I was to keeping family traditions and making the holiday special), was to be nice to me. For three days, I fumed. He was completely unappreciative and selfish.