Those cute snow people in the picture above appear to be innocent, festive additions to my holiday decor. However, they represent the most frightening object in my house. Halloween decorations? The mark of an amateur. Skeletons, bats, or spiders can’t hold a candle to the unrelenting horror unleashed when this decoration emerges from its box.
The figures aren’t unsettling, it’s the numbered cubes that trigger alarm. To properly set up the display, I determine how many days remain until Christmas. Each day I turn the cube and decrease that number by one. It’s an Advent calendar, but my decoration doesn’t dispense chocolates. (See the TODAY show editors’ FUN favorites here.) It ticks one day closer to detonation (or Christmas, if you prefer).
Why do I keep it? I blame holiday amnesia. Each year while distracted by sparkle and glitter, I stumble into the Christmas danger zone. Like an unfortunate horror movie victim, (DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR!) I adjust the numbered blocks and perch the snow people on the mantle. After all, that jingle promises the season will be merry and bright!
The days dwindle…
I enjoy the holidays (see this post), but…there is a lot to do in a limited amount of time:
- Presents to buy, wrap, and mail.
- Cookies and treats to bake, frost, and eat.
- Meals-more elaborate than unusual, to plan, shop for, and prepare.
- Events-also more formal than usual, to schedule, dress for, and attend.
- People-some who only pop-up once a year, to assist, acknowledge, or visit.
All activities must be completed before the number reaches zero. That daily countdown becomes relentless and terrifying. My stress rises as the count descends. Now I understand why a ticking clock makes such an effective plot device. (See Janice Hardy’s post here.) The snow people smile, but each day they deliver the same message: Christmas is ONE DAY closer. A line quacked by Ferdinand the Duck in the movie Babe invades in my thoughts, “Christmas is carnage!”
When my children were tots, the potential for disaster increased. SANTA would be arriving on Christmas morning and the correct present needed to be under the tree. Sometimes my children threw Santa’s helper under the bus by CHANGING THEIR REQUESTS to the popular toy that sold out in AUGUST. (Remember Cabbage Patch Dolls? I need to catch my breath. Where did I put that paper bag?)
Full-blown panic sets in…
As in Tim Burton’s movie, The Nightmare Before Christmas, knocking out a Christmas celebration doesn’t always proceed according to plan. Along with all those EXTRA tasks, I still need to do my regular chores and I’m supposed to stay grateful, friendly, and happy. When it becomes impossible to satisfy all those heightened expectations and obligations, I’ve been known to become GRINCHY. My panic to complete the preparations mounts: Are packages wrapped? Stocking supplies stashed? Menu items bought? Will I earn a #bestChristmasever or #epicChristmasfail?
Next year, I’ll be ready..
The countdown ends, the celebration occurs, and the cubes reset. Stress eases with each opened gift and champagne toast. In the end, I’m grateful for health, family, and so many blessings. Even if it wasn’t perfect, we’ve survived another holiday season.
Through the years, I’ve learned to toss items off my must-do list, as if I’m throwing ballast out of a sinking hot-air balloon. I’ve also learned to let things go, stay in the moment, and roll with back orders and late shipments. When I pack the the snow people (and their evil cubes), I’ll forget all the anxiety, worry and stress…until next year. Happy Holidays!
What causes you anxiety during this time of year? Share in the comments!
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