I used to always joke with my parents, after visiting them in
Of course, about 6 months later, I’d find myself in a restaurant below sea level once again, trying to set the world record for fried shrimp consumption.
I’m kind of like that with the holidays. I swear I won’t over do, but I’ve come to realize that that’s pretty much impossible. So today, I’m wearing jeans that I promise fit me 5 days ago, downing TUMS, and sitting on my couch as if it might levitate if I don’t.
And swearing I won’t let myself get this exhausted next year.
I don’t care what your expectations are...the holidays are exhausting. If you’ve been wondering for the last few weeks how you are going to get through them...the anticipation and the climax of what you think could be the worst day of the year...well...I’m betting you’re kind of pooped today. And if you were expecting something amazing and have been working your tail off trying to make it a Christmas that no one will ever forget...I’m betting you’re still in your PJs.
We all put so much pressure on ourselves during the holidays. As a kid, I don’t remember being as crazed as we make ourselves now. And honestly...this year...I really tried to not commit to very much. I tried to be responsible. I even ate a Lean Cuisine every now and then.
And today...I’m freakin’ wiped out.
I heard something this year that I had never heard before. And that is how even kids today are affected by the stress of the holidays.
What? Kids? Christmas? Stress?????
I thought they just blissfully made us crazy asking how many days? How many minutes? Is it possible that Santa could be late? Why did she get 557 presents and I only got 556?
But for the first time this year, I understood how this constant running around, noise, blinking lights, and forced fun can really drive our kids a little crazy.
Thank God...it’s not just me.
Here’s a pretty good example.
My nephew, one of my favorite people in the world, has what doctors call “autistic tendencies.” He’s never been diagnosed with autism, he just does a few things that some of the rest of us don’t do.
Actually...what I should say...is that he does some things that the rest of us wish we did. For example: When there are a million things going on and “over stimulation” is an understatement, he’ll put his hands over his ears and sometimes hide.
I would love to tell you how many times in the last few weeks I have wanted to do that. A TV on while 4 other children are running around and someone is carving a massive roast with an electric knife...I would love nothing more than to hide under a heavy set of curtains until things calm down.
The absolute best thing about my nephew is that he’s really smart. You don’t always know immediately why he’s connected point A to point D but once he explains B and C, it makes complete sense. He comes up with the best questions. He’s always good for a zinger (even when he doesn’t know it). And he tells it like it is.
The perfect example of this was last year, after an entire summer of not watering his front lawn, my sister’s neighbor started a sprinkler one August morning. And my nephew walked outside and said, “Mr. Dan? Why are you watering your dirt?”
Thanks, kiddo. We’d all been wondering the same thing.
Now, my sister had been warned that not only could my nephew get a little overwhelmed with the holidays...he could actually regress little. That the stress and craziness could temporarily set him back a few months with this therapy.
Oh boy. Do I get that.
So on Christmas Eve, when we were all in the middle of complete mayhem...wrapping paper flying, kids screaming, everyone exclaiming that what they had opened was just what they wanted...he had had enough. And he had no problem saying it.
I watched my 5 year old nephew with complete admiration. I had had enough too. I was tired. I was cranky. Why am I getting a book when what I wanted was a train set?
How come I can’t just say it too?
After a month of “being okay” I’d finally had enough holiday magic and I just wanted to be in a nice quiet room covered in my favorite blanket, taking deep breaths, trying to calm down. I wanted the craziness of Christmas to be gone and to be back on my normal schedule. I wanted so badly to have things back the way they were supposed to be...a completed family that hadn’t been touched by tragedy yet.
And most of all...I wanted so badly to sit down with my nephew and say, “It's okay, sweetie. I’m regressing too.”