Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Doing it all for the holidays

The older I get, the more I realize what went into creating the holidays.  It's a bit like seeing the man behind the curtain as an adult, as a parent in charge of making it happen.

ornament 2013
Like my cousin chanson, I also got sick right before the holiday.  What really happened was my daughter was intensely sick with a stomach virus, then my son got sick.  And then I got sick.  Basically, two weekends of prime holiday shopping and planning didn't happen.  And some of the holiday parties and performances were missed.  Typically I hate getting sick, but getting sick around the holidays is even more difficult and stressful.

Because the holiday thing is a lot of work. There is shopping for gifts.  (I've gotten over finding the best deals for presents, it's just too time-consuming).   There are lines and grumpy people.  Although next year I resolve to have the gifts wrapped by a charity organization - usually I like gift wrapping but this year it seemed overwhelming.  And it doesn't have to be this way.  And every year, inevitably, by the time we get to the toy store it is the last minute and gifts are picked over.  Next year, I also resolve to start the process earlier so I have time to order online.

Then there are holiday cards, if you send them.  Holiday cards seem to be one of those traditions that are fading fast.  Like reunions, I blame certain social networking sites.

Usually there are family meals, food that has to be prepared.  Bonus if you have some family members with food allergies and children who are picky eaters.  I was amazed by all the food I purchased - and we have consumed it all.  As I get older, this process gets easier (I remember to prepare for breakfast, for example).  And I'm not responsible for the turkey (I can't imagine) - fortunately most of the meals are much simpler/more manageable.

There is the baking.  I like to bake (I baked this year, on Christmas itself).  I'm good at it, not sure if it's part of being raised mormon or not (I strongly suspect mormon culture had something to do with it).  I've heard in some families someone (usually the mom or Grandma) bakes boxes and boxes of cookies to send to friends and relatives.

On top of all of that, there are also games/movies that keep everyone entertained.

I honestly don't know how all the people in my life did it all.  My grandmother seemed to effortlessly throw together huge meals.  And I read the other day about a great grandmother who was responsible for feeding the ranch hands - she too never knew how many people she would need to feed on a limited budget - two or twenty.

And yes, usually it was the women who made it happen.  All the holiday making seems to be a feminine responsibility - sometimes chosen, sometimes simply assumed.  I think it's holdover from the angel in the home.

I suppose I'm simply recognizing all the work, unseen and perhaps unappreciated.  Were there things done that maybe didn't need to be done? Was there extra stress that didn't need to be there?  Was there communication that could have been there, requests that could have been made which weren't made?  Of course.

In the end, for the most part, I enjoy what I do, I enjoy entertaining, selecting gifts and mailing cards. And I'm well aware that I choose to do all of this, even with a full time job.  I just realized that without the hard work of many people, often many parts of the holiday just wouldn't happen.

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