Hey, Christmas is here, folks, and in Wisconsin, we’ve had quite the bout of weather to prepare us for it. Not only did we end up getting dumped on with snow just a few days ago, but then shortly afterward, we had a day of 57 degree weather, followed immediately thereafter with 55 mph winds, and devastating tornadoes for surrounding areas. And that was just over the course of a few days. When we talk about it beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, here in Wisconsin, that could mean anything when it comes to the weather.
But when it comes to feeling like Christmas for me, I guess I have a ton of conflicting feelings about it. I remember being a kid waiting for Christmas to come around. Seeing all the presents piling under the tree as the days inched closer and closer to the big one. And I remember working really hard to try and hide my excitement over all those presents to keep up my stoic appearance so no one would ever have to know how ready I was to rip that paper off the boxes and figure out what sorts of goodies hid inside. I remember the tears that would fall off my sister’s cheeks whenever she got a white box, which inevitably meant clothes, which then led to a competition over who could get the most white boxes and therefore win Christmas. I remember the sheer anticipation throughout the entirety of performing at the annual Christmas Eve pageant at our church, trying to do my best to sit still and remember the passages from the Bible while knowing that once we got home, we would finally be able to see what gifts our parents and family and friends had gotten for us. My parents had long ago given up on the idea of waiting until Christmas morning to open presents. Probably due to the much younger me being absolutely unbearable as he eagerly awaited the present-opening, but probably even more due to their realization that opening the night before allowed for a less-early wake up call the following morning (or dealing with us kids at church having not opened our presents yet).
Christmas was always about anticipation, about the excitement of what was to come. Christmas felt a lot like anxiety…but an eager anxiety, I guess?
Nowadays, things are actually pretty similar, but in a completely different way. As the days tick closer and closer to that big event, I find myself getting more and more anxious about completing all the things that need to happen before the big day arrives. Not only is there the effort involved in trying to make sure all the presents are here and wrapped on time, but we also throw the Christmas Eve party for my in-laws at my house, which means there’s tons of cleaning and food preparation (that one’s mostly on my wife, if I’m being honest) on top of trying to get the kids to chill out long enough for us to be able to run out to do some last minute shopping for something we forgot. There’s all the Christmas movies we want to watch, the trip through Irvine Park to see the lights, the putting up of our own lights, the constant battle to get the kids to go to sleep as they get more and more excited about what’s to come, and the early morning terror as I realize that the stupid elf is still in the same spot he’s been in for the past two days and the kids are sure to finally notice.
Sure, I get a little excited about what might await me under the tree, but there’s very little for surprises there. And in the event I don’t get what I really want, well, I’m an adult now, I can just go buy the thing I’ve been holding off on buying in case it’s what my wife decided to get me.
And after Christmas there’s the excitement of multiple additional Christmas parties, house guests, and the kids home from school while I still have to work, all leading up to New Year’s Eve, when we realize that we didn’t actually prepare any of the things the kids expect for that event, and we have to determine how many bottles of champagne will be enough for me and my wife to share as we put the kids to sleep at 9pm after watching old footage of the Times Square ball dropping.
Christmas, I guess, really just feels like hustling to get all the things done so we can get through Christmas and finally take a break. And that break, of course, is just finally having the kids back at school so I can work from home in peace.
And maybe somewhere in there I manage to fit in a nap.
So, really, it’s not all that different from the Christmases of my youth.
And it’s really beginning to feel a lot like Christmas right about now. I’m hoping Santa put a Xanax prescription under the tree for me this year.