18 Dec Made my List and Checked it Twice
By: Stefanie Castro, RN, BSN
I sat on the phone with my mom, driving away from the mall after getting the kids’ pictures taken with Santa. I exclaimed, “Check that off my list!” I didn’t think much of my words at the time, but when I went to bed that night, I couldn’t help but feel absolutely horrible about what I said. When did the holidays become about checking tasks off my list of to-dos? I mean, aren’t these the pleasures of the holidays when we have little kids: Santa photos, holiday cards, decorating the house, baking cookies for Santa’s arrival? Well, somewhere down the line, I lost my way and I bet many of you feel the exact same way.
Every year I have conversations with friends and family members in which they vent about how stressful the holidays have become. The older I get, I can’t help but relate to the anxiety they feel. The holiday season becomes about buying a multitude of gifts, sometimes without putting much thought into what the person may really want. I know for a fact I’ve spent a good fortune, hoping that I have put enough time, energy. and money into each person’s gift. I’ll event admit, this year I decorated my house shortly after Halloween, not necessarily because I love the holiday (although I do), but because I was too busy to do it later in November. But at the end of the day, is that what this time of year is really about? Is it about fitting it into our schedule? Do we just go through the motions and hope for the best?
I know, at least for me, I’d trade many of the gifts of my past for just one extra moment with that special person I no longer have the pleasure of hugging on Christmas morning. Most of the happiness I feel during the holidays comes from the fact that I get to see the people I love most unite under the same roof. When I think back on all the holidays I’ve spent with my family members, the gifts aren’t what stand out the most.
This year, I decided to change things up. With the adults in my life, I’m not going to exchange gifts that they can find in a box wrapped with Christmas paper. In lieu of gifts, I want an experience—whether it is a lunch or simply a walk around the mall. As busy as we can get, a simple hangout is so rare and I need breaks in the form of conversations with adults. There may be people who can’t relate to how I’m feeling, but at some point it will hit everyone. Life is too short. And as a parent, I know time passes way too quickly. The gifts aren’t what we remember from past years. It will be the moments, laughs, and stories we had with people we love.
Although I started my holiday season with the feeling that each activity was simply an item I had to check off my list, I’m going into Christmas with a new perspective. I’m trying to appreciate the difficulties this year has brought and how lucky I am to have each of my family members still standing by my side, healthier and stronger than last year. I needed that moment of clarity this year, because I felt overwhelmed looking towards the holidays. My to-do list may continue to grow, but I hope to savor each moment for what it is—a time I will never get back with my loved ones, and especially, my children.
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