Stress the Halls…Fa la la la la

“Can you kids just go play by yourself and leave us alone for a few minutes so your father and I can sit here and relax?”

As the phrase came out of my mouth, I was horrified to hear the message I was sending and to watch my daughter’s face fall.

Ah, stress.

I wear it like a coat this time of year.

In this instance, I was finishing a day taking care of my two toddlers on my own.

I was wiped.

The day had included, among other things…

  • Schlepping my daughter back and forth to preschool with my son in tow
  • Preparing breakfast and lunch for the kids and myself, and feeding the dog
  • Putting the kids down to nap (my daughter just played in her room and eventually had a potty accident which I then had to clean up)
  • Changing diapers for my son
  • Doing laundry
  • Making lasagna for dinner, which is time-consuming
  • Washing all the dishes I dirtied making the lasagna

….and then my kids refused to eat the dinner I made.


Now I was relishing the idea of a few golden minutes of peace and quiet to flip through a magazine in comfortable companionship with my husband on the couch, before beginning the sometimes arduous activity of toddler bath time.

My three year-old had different plans.

She wanted to dance….and she wanted someone (me) to watch her do it.

Before I had sat down, at her request I had put on some Christmas music to set the mood. She and her two-year old brother were dressed up as Superman and Robin. In stocking feet, they were taking turns being “on stage” performing. My daughter really wanted me to put on the Nutcracker CD so she could play Sugar Plum Fairy….

….in her (Batman and) Robin costume.

How could I resist?

I hauled my weary self off the couch and moved into the room where the “stage” was (the brick platform in front of our fireplace). I put on the classic Tchaikovsky score and settled down in a chair to watch.

What my daughter truly craved, though, was for me to dance with her and her brother.

So I did.

We pirouetted, curtseyed and ran our way around our downstairs rooms. The Sugar Plum Fairy yelled “Come on guys!” and bounced off as her giggly Mommy and her brother, dressed as his beloved Superman, followed her. My husband watched from the sofa, shooting me that knowing smile which tells me he finds our children as adorable as I do.

In that instant, I realized the magic of the holidays. I felt all stress leave my body.


I relish moments like that. They hit me square between the eyes and I want more. They are the antidote to stress.

Preparing for the holidays + the normal activities of getting through the day + the demands of our careers = stress.

I don’t know about you, but in the next few days I have:

  • Holiday cards to address and mail
  • Presents to wrap and send
  • Other presents to find, purchase or make
  • Logistics of where we’ll be during specific holiday days to finalize
  • Menus to compile and grocery shopping to accomplish
  • Cleaning to do

…and don’t get me started on the list of things to do for my paid career. That’s a whole other list!

As I become consumed with the To Do list, I find myself forgetting to stop and enjoy the spirit of the season.

My kids remind me of what it’s all about, simply by being them….

.…And I’m so grateful that they do.

I’m wondering:

  • What magical moments do you relish this time of year?
  • How do you keep the spirit of the holidays top-of-mind when your To Do list to prepare for it is a mile long?
  • What do you do – or not do – to take care of yourself during what can be such an alternately wonderful and stressful time of year?

Please share below.

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2 Responses to Stress the Halls…Fa la la la la

  1. Yuriko December 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    After all these years, I can honestly say the most significant events of the holidays are memories of magic in watching my children and now grandchildren. They will dance freely, using their imaginations and delight in your participation for only a short time. Enjoy every precious moment as this is what you’ll cherish with all your heart. I go into the holiday, recognizing that not everything on my list will get done or be perfect. In the past, the holidays would have been stressful, but now I prioritize, start early and try to enjoy everything that I’m doing. Take advantage of technology and shopping online is a major time saver. Meditating and massage have made this month super relaxing for me. It’s important to schedule time for yourself.

    Thank you for sharing your life experiences in your newsletters.

  2. Ann Worthington December 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Thanks for sharing about your family moment. I enjoy reading what you write. I don’t have children but do have a very demanding inner child that I have to pay close attention to or she will try to run my life and make big life decisions for me based on her little girl needs. She needs love and attention and a daily plan that includes play and rest. When I take good care of her, then grownup Ann gets to be in charge and we are all happy. She can be my inner guide to enjoying the Holidays and I can make sure we are balanced and don’t overdue it. I think it may be time for us to dance to the sugar plum fairy music!

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