How a Christmas Geek Handles Holiday Stress: A Bad Example to Emulate

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Floor cluttered with boxes, wrapping paper and supplies, packing material, and more
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I always hear about what a stressful time the holidays are. “What?” says I. “You’re talking about my favorite time of the year!” And even though I am sleep-deprived and running on manic fumes, I say it again even now: I love this time of year.

My husband told me yesterday, “All year long I ask you what’s up, if you have any plans, and you say, ‘Idaknow, stuff.’ Unless it’s Christmas time, and then you’re like, ‘THIS IS MY LIST! I HAVE A LONG LIST OF THINGS TO DO! DO NOT INTERRUPT MY LIST!'”

It’s true. Most of the year my demeanor is gentle, easy-going, indecisive, and absolutely unrushed. My Patronus is a sloth.* My Deadly Sin of choice is Sloth. Ambition is a foreign concept. I’m content.

But in December I am not content: I am happy. I have an actually-interesting reason to get up in the morning! I will clean that house, if it means I can get out the decorations! I will send everyone a card! Handmade! I walk into Jo-Ann Fabrics and every roll of fleece is just dying to be made into a sweatshirt for some particular person or another! I have so many ideas for gifts, and I will buy them as I think of them, even if, okay, maybe a couple of the bills get pushed off until next month? THAT’S OKAY BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS!

See, where the stress comes in is that people keep insisting that everyday life go on as well. They want dinner every night. They want a floor uncluttered by wrapping paper and sewing projects. They want their dang money for that heater tune-up or water bill. They want the snow tires put on before winter hits. They want you to get to work on time and stay there until it’s time to leave, and possibly work some extra times to cover for other people. They want you to drive them places. They insist on getting sick and staying home from school or work when you had planned to work on presents for them! They want attention.

But all you want is to make Christmas presents! Why doesn’t anyone understand?

I always over-extend myself. I start all my sewing projects in November but somehow I still have two to finish. I try to ease off on presents but somehow there’s no room left under the tree, and each person might as well hang a pair of stockings because I can easily fill both. The sink is piled with all our pots and pans; we have 90 dollars to last us for the next week and, yes, several bills waiting to be paid; I can only get away with writing this article right now because I’m in a situation where I can’t sew or cook or wrap for an hour. But I wouldn’t trade it! Christmas comes but once a year!

At eleven o’clock last night I finally finished the mermaid blanket I was making for my daughter and fully expected to have finished last Tuesday, but then I felt compelled to at least sort the pieces of matching jackets I cut out weeks ago but still need to put together, and then I realized I’d forgotten to mark notches from the pattern, and so I started that, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, and stumbled into bed just before midnight. At 5:30 AM I woke up, plotting where each piece needed to go, and made myself stay in bed at least until my husband got up at 6. I have no more school days at home to myself. I need to use every minute the kids are still in bed.

I felt vaguely aware that my brain was not quite right. I was punch-drunk. If it hadn’t been Christmas, I’d be asleep. Sloth, remember? I am a big fan of sleep. And my brain wants it and is trying to tell the rest of me that. But my emotional system is revved up. So all day I’ve been, well, goofy. Loudly singing (Christmas carols of course), shouting outbursts, way more ADHD than usual–thank heavens I’m on Ritalin now. I am quite possibly having a manic episode. But I don’t have manic episodes. I mean, usually. Anything is possible on Christmas!

I know I should get more sleep. I know I can’t take care of anyone else if I don’t take care of myself first. I know that maybe I should set a few things aside and admit I won’t get everything I want to get done finished by the time we leave for my parents’ Sunday afternoon. But it’s Christmas and I’m enjoying every minute of this.

I’m just going to crash on the 26th, that’s all.


*Pottermore actually says it’s a hedgehog, and I find this very likely, particularly if I picture it as this guy. This guy is totally my Patronus. But it’s the most polite term I can think of for referring to the animal representation of one’s soul. There are Philip Pullman’s Daemons, but, eh. Most people like the term “spirit animal,” but that’s cultural appropriation. So I’ll stick with Patronus for now, even though the Patronus is more of a protective animal than a descriptive one. So my protective animal is the hedgehog, my descriptive one, the sloth. This guy, basically.