It’s the holiday season. Are you stressing or relaxing? Are you hosting or bringing a dish to someone’s house? Are you braving the highways or airports? Are you questioning whether you bought the right gifts for all the right people — or trying to figure out when you can possibly take time to do gift shopping? Are you arguing with family over something that later you’ll decide was stupid? So many ways to be stressed at this time of year.
And so many ways to be with people we love. On business calls this week I’ve talked with people anxiously waiting for their college age kids to return home for their holiday break, people getting ready to have housefuls of out-of-town relatives for the next week, and others who are taking their family on a ski trip for the holidays.
For me, it’s all about being with loved ones. There will be the annual Schade Family Christmas Sleepover this weekend with my two daughters and their husbands and what I fondly call the “Fab Four” — my four grandkids who range in ages from 2 to 6 years old. Yes, it will be chaotic, but fun.
There will be the Christmas day dinner at my daughter’s house an hour away with her in-law’s family. It is her first time hosting everyone (15 adults and 6 kids) on Christmas, and her stress is building. She works a 12-hour shift as a nurse practitioner on Christmas Eve, so she’s trying to figure out when she will get everything done and ready. We’ll get there in time to help before everyone else arrives, and she and her husband can delegate any task to us that they want to.
My holiday gift shopping is done. I subscribe to the “keep it simple” approach. It’s too easy to go overboard. For each grandkid, there will be one big present to unwrap. Then each pair of siblings will get an “experience”: a choice of more gymnastics or swim lessons for one family, annual zoo membership for the other. As one of my daughters said to me a few years ago, ‘Get them experiences, they have plenty of toys.’
The stockings hung at our house will be from nana and papa, not Santa. They have underwear (yes, even for the soon to be toilet trained two and a half) and socks in them. I’m a practical nana, so I try to give them stuff they need. I remember that the only gift we ever got as kids from my grandmother growing up was new underwear and a Hershey candy bar. We didn’t usually see my grandparents who lived three hours away on Christmas, and so the box would just arrive in the mail.
My grandkids will also find a book for each of them and matching holiday pajamas in their stockings for the requisite pictures at the sleepover. I still have last year’s picture as my laptop screen saver and love to look at their smiling faces every day.
Speaking of my grandparents — who came to this country from Slovenia in the early 1900s — there is another tradition I’m attempting to repeat. Making a Slovenian delicacy called “potica.” My grandmother and mother made it every year at Easter and Christmas when I was growing up. It was a day long project. I made it twice in the past 10 years. A few weeks ago, my daughters suggested we try it again. Maybe this year we’ll perfect it.
Yes, I’ll keep any time sensitive work going next week and might use some down time for more strategic long-term projects. And I have a goal of cleaning and organizing my home office for the New Year. But my priority will be hanging with my big rocks – the Fab Four, their parents, and my husband.
I hope you can do the same this holiday season. And if you are in any type of service job where you must work on holidays, my thanks for all you do. My wish for you is that your family accommodates your schedule so you too can spend time with your big rocks.