I can hardly believe the winter holidays are here again… every year, Christmas seems to come faster, and I can’t help grumbling under my Scroogey hat, “didn’t we just do this?”
It doesn’t help that every year, the holidays bring me face to face with my messy, disorganized self, and I always feel I’m about 20 steps behind everyone else, rushing and running, trying to catch up. This Fall has been particularly stressful for me, with kid and family issues that were my priority, and so I started shopping late, haven’t done any baking (I have bought nice cookies as a back up in case I don’t manage to do any). DH and I have had many years where we don’t start wrapping until the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve… I do not recommend this! Compounding all my holiday stress this year is that we’re having two small gatherings of friends at our home in the next week… and the house is a mess. So I’ve been making my to-do lists and asking the family to help, but it’s all a bit overwhelming.
It also doesn’t help that I have dreams and yearnings– of having a peaceful, relaxed Christmas, but also a picture-perfect holiday with all the beautiful decorations and special foods and that whole aura of perfection. And I keep running and running, trying to catch up, never quite getting there, and–
Oh yeah. If I’m lucky, I then remember I poem I wrote several years ago, about this very thing. Words from a wiser part of myself that I need to hear again. I share it with you now (an myself again!) in the hopes it might have some wisdom for you too. Have a wonderful holiday and New Year, dear readers!
I expected Martha Stewart or House Beautiful
when we arrived for the holiday piano recital,
home of a student’s family.
I imagined Victorian elegance:
gleaming dark wood, evergreen swags
draping stair banister, plush
rugs, and everything just so.
We knocked and were welcomed into
small home, bustling with crowd,
plain wood paneled living-
room, two simple poinsettias
smiling on the piano.
Nothing was perfect, nothing
just so as
we sat in cramped miscellaneous
chairs behind the piano,
listening to our children
perform. Later, cookies and bars
in the kitchen, sipping hot
Swedish glogg while
kids raced and played.
I relaxed, laughing,
warming from a deep freeze.
I met neighbors who’d come by
to help the host,
heard about their closeness,
neighbors who visited and shared
on this city street.
I felt the love in that place,
pined for that kind of life,
marveled at how I’d been fooled
into thinking Martha Stewart
or House Beautiful was something
I should even
–Theresa Jarosz Alberti