Some years, Christmas is full of magic. The stars are aligned, the moods are cheerful, and life goes as planned. Other years, Christmas is different for one reason or another, and the result is anything but Pinterest-worthy. Is it possible to find joy when you see nothing but chaos?
Here is the story of one Christmas where we were able to do just that!
Christmas 2014: Christmas, Under Construction
My life is under construction at the moment, and that includes Christmas. We are in the midst of a major home renovation. The renovation is much anticipated and will be wonderful when it’s complete, but right now it’s utter chaos. There is near-constant banging, a whole lot of dirt, workmen tromping in and out, and there will soon be multiple holes in my house. Stuff needs to be moved and boxed. Our kitchen will be disassembled and reconfigured. All the noise, and dirt, and chaos, and spending is stressful at any point in the year, but it’s particularly trying just before Christmas. I know all of this chaos will be worth it, and I’m trying to keep my eye on the prize, but I also know that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
I’ve told you guys before that I am a planner, and that I am a bit of a neat-freak. The fact that a major holiday is about to happen amidst and despite this bedlam… well, you can imagine that I’m freaking out a little bit. I’m one of those people who decorates for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Any other year, I would have had our house all decked out by now. Our tree would be up, music would be blaring, stockings would be hung, and there’d be twinkle lights galore. There would be Christmas crafts drying on every surface, gingerbread house contests, and cookies in the oven. But this year? Between the construction, the recent power outage, the sick kids, and the resulting epic laundry situation, I’ve been struggling to feel festive. In fact, I’ve been feeling positively Grinch-y. I honestly don’t know what Christmas will look like this year, but I know it will have to look different and it will need to be a lot less.
This morning I woke up determined to nip my Grinch-y feeling in the bud and find some Christmas cheer. What did I do, you wonder? I watched the last ten minutes of It’s a Wonderful Life on YouTube (because how can you not feel Christmas-y after that??), and then I hung up one of my favorite Christmas decorations in our soon-to-be-destroyed kitchen:
…and then I embraced the chaos. I threw in one of my favorite Christmas CDs, slapped some primer on the walls that will soon be gone, and then surprised my little poppies with some of their favorite characters from book and film:
I wish I had thought to record their faces when they saw the kitchen- it was absolutely precious! Then, I handed each child a paintbrush, told them not to worry about drips on the floor, and I invited them to paint our kitchen walls and cabinets while the Christmas music played on.
It got silly, it got messy, it got loud. It lasted all afternoon and it was absolutely wonderful.
The reality is, years from now, my kids aren’t going to remember any of the stuff that is stressing me out right now. They won’t remember if our house had Christmas lights or not, if our tree was in a weird spot, if the house was filthy if we were lacking decorations- none of that. But they will remember the Christmas that Mum blasted Christmas carols and invited them to paint on the walls. (And do you want to know how I know? Because I have such wonderful memories of the times my mum let my brothers and I decorate the walls before she re-wallpapered!) Christmas is about the joy and the memories with family, it’s not about the stuff.
So here’s to living in the moment and trying not to worry about what we cannot control. Tonight, when the stress of the mess starts to rear its ugly little noggin, I’m going to turn off the lights, turn on the twinkle lights (because everything looks better with twinkle lights- even dirt!), have a glass of wine, and listen to Bing. If things get dire, there’s always those last ten minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life because, you know what? Despite all the chaos, it is.
Christmas 2015: The Calm After the Storm
This year, we are enjoying the holiday season without the chaos of construction. We can watch our Rankin and Bass without the noise of hammers. Tinkerbell and Max are found in our Doodle Diaries and not on our kitchen walls. Our tree is where it is supposed to be, and we have twinkle lights and decorations galore. It is so much different from last year, and yet when I think about last year’s kitchen magic, my heart swells. It’s funny how a small change in outlook can change everything. Our most chaotic Christmas will likely be the one that will stand out in our minds, many years from now, as our favorite.
We do not remember days, we remember moments.