As I’m frantically rushing to finish this post, I got to thinking about how parenthood forces you to accommodate an ever-growing “to do” list. For instance, a few years back I noticed my stomach would start knotting sometime before Thanksgiving at the thought of the impending holiday season.But I love the holidays! Love them -- but that's when the 3am insomnia starts. Time shrinking away as the pile of things to do grows. No matter how hard I try to scale back the celebrations, focus on a few aspects of a holiday, sticking to the spirit of the season -- I'm still overwhelmed.
So much anxiety springs from sending Christmas cards. The candy corn hadn't been gobbled up yet and the dread would build as I thought about addressing all those sparkly little rectangles -- cards I had still had weeks and weeks yet to send. By now, I've refined panic to a high art form. I swear last year we were celebrating the Fourth of July at the community pool when a flashback/flash forward sent me into a cold sweat. I overheard some ladies talking about being almost finished with their Christmas shopping. What? I admire organizational skills, truly I do. But this was making my head spin.
It seemed kind of ridiculous to try to get ahead of even just this one little task --- the small snarling Christmas card beast --- so early in the game. Ok, so I needed to take a deep breath and assess. I had bought cards on the cheap at the end of the season so technically I could start addressing them. And lately, I've really preferred a snapshot card arranged with photos of the kids. Should I hang a few lights, wrap them up in red sweaters and stage a stunt Christmas? I pondered that for awhile but the ridiculousness of it all struck me. An image popped into my head: two overheated kids with deep tans, posing awkwardly near a dusty fake wreath, looking more like they were stuck in a bad theme restarutant. That finally stopped me in my tracks. It reminded me of a Parent Tip Night at our old daycare center. One of the teachers shared her helpful hint for the day: that she dressed her young kids for school the night before and put them to bed in said clothes --- so that in the morning she could just scoop them up and get started on the day with no fuss. I didn't want the cards to turn into the equivalent of wearing my clothes to bed!
I knew I needed to think outside the box and settled on sending greetings around a different holiday. Halloween still seemed to creep up on me too fast. Same with Thanksgiving. Summer time didn't feel like the right time. But then I read that famed chef Julia Child had always sent annual valentine's cards. That seemed perfect. For me, Valentine's Day had always been a family holiday. My mom bought each of us a special card, candy and little toy or other treat. We made heart-covered cards for each other. That was it -- I'd send Valentine's cards. The kids were thrilled and posed obligingly over Christmas -- we took leisurely photos. What's the rush? We could take our time picking out a card, scrubbing the mailing list and addressing the envelopes. Once the holidays were done, we'd be golden! It's going well so far -- St. Patrick's Day is this week. And I'm almost ready to send out another pile of Valentine's -- you should get yours by Easter.