The month of December causes anxiety, craze, and meltdowns for lots of people. I know I’m not the only one suffering from holiday hyperventilation right now. But, I usually sail through Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the food, the family. I love spending time and energy shopping for the people I care about. I generally just love the holidays. So it’s strange for me to feel exhausted and irritable in December, but I do.
I feel overbooked, over budget, over worked, and overwhelmed. Maybe it’s different this year with so many of our friends living out of town. Maybe it’s because I officially have a husband now and I want to start traditions for our own family on top of the ones from our childhoods. Maybe it’s because this December I have two jobs, and a house that insists on falling apart, and a dog that has to be in a crate when we’re not home because otherwise she’ll eat the bindings of all of our books.
Whatever it is this year, I’m over it. The other night, I tried to pick a date for us to go downtown and watch a Christmas light show sometime, anytime before Christmas and I COULD NOT DO IT. Holy sh*t, dude! The show is 20 minutes from our house and lasts for an hour and I couldn’t squeeze it in between all the out of town trips to see friends, holiday parties, fence building, and our jobs.
So, naturally, I had a meltdown. I flung myself as far away from my phone (calendar) as possible (I no longer fling my phone since I learned that phones don’t respond well to blunt force trauma). I buried my head and let the impending doom of my Christmas schedule suffocate me. We were screwed. We’d never spend time alone together again and we’d certainly never have enough money to take our New Year’s road trip down the Eastern Sierras like we’d planned. I hate Christmas.
I remained in that state of tightly wound bah humbug for at least an hour – scowling at our bank account balance, the grocery list, the empty space that used to be a back fence. And when I finally moped my way into our bedroom, I saw my new favorite (and Mr. Rathroy’s least favorite) piece of wall art.
“Happiness is by choice, not by chance.” Somehow I had let myself forget that I made all those plans that were now suffocating me. I said yes to all of those things on my bursting-at-the-seams calendar. I chose to overbook myself. I chose to cut it a little close on the budget. And I chose to freak out instead of looking for flexibility in the schedule so that I could go to a light show with my new husband (my new husband that has to be tired of meltdowns by now).
At that moment, I chose to be thankful. Thankful for the many wonderful friends that welcome us into their homes when we visit. Thankful for the jobs that pay us so that we can buy gifts for our families. Thankful for my exceedingly wonderful husband that is working outside in freezing temperatures right now to build us a new fence. Thankful for our families that create such wonderful holiday memories with us each year. And thankful for Christmas.
It’s so easy for me to believe that I’m the victim of my life when things get hard. To become overwhelmed and helpless and just hold my breath until it’s all over. But that’s not how I want to live out any chapter of my life, especially the ones that include Christmas! Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the ass to remind me, but I have the ability to make decisions and there’s no reason for any decision to end in anything but happiness.