For most of my adult life, I have gotten a stomachache starting in mid-December. It doesn’t go away until late afternoon on Christmas Day. It’s obviously related to stress although it feels somewhat reminiscent of the nausea and fatigue that accompany low blood sugar.
Many years ago the stress was probably warranted during the holidays. Lots of shopping, planning, entertaining. More shopping and trying to think of gifts for people who don’t need anything. #FirstWorldProblem. Searching every Target in the Minneapolis area for the one He-Man action figure which sold out in early November. Making grocery lists and checking them twice. Decorating and cleaning house. And so on….
I am the first to admit that at this stage in life, it is unreasonable that I am close-to-puking stressed in December. We no longer exchange gifts with the adults in our family. No sweaters, no dice games, no puzzles, no tacky glass figurines. The grandchildren are fun to shop for although I am not allowed to buy American Girl dolls or video games. The meals are still big, but much simplified compared to 20 years ago. I don’t make cookies and one daughter-in-law handles that.
Unfortunately my stress is a “Pavlov’s dog” reaction to December. It is no longer based on reality but still shows up every year. It is definitely my problem and not the fault of others placing too many demands on me.
I spent much of this December b*tching to friends about how I have to cook prime rib on Christmas Eve and don’t even like it. I grew up in a family where Christmas Eve meant vegetable soup and opening one gift. The big festivities were on Christmas Day. My husband is the grandchild of Scandinavian immigrants and Christmas Eve in his family meant roast beef, lutefisk, boiled potatotes, sylta, potato sausage, pickled herring, rolls, lefse, the Minnesota addition of jello salad, and about twenty kinds of cookies. Christmas Day was another huge meal with turkey and trimmings.
Last weekend one daughter-in-law reminded me that last year I swore that I was going to serve pizza on Christmas Eve! I laughed and said that was a pipe dream. Over the next few hours I began to think “Why Not?” and sent an email to the eight involved adults. The four grandchildren technically had a say and of course chose pizza. One of my sons expressed a desire to have roast beef and my husband wisely kept quiet.
But the decision was PIZZA!
I’ll make a salad ahead of time for the adults and the kids will eat veggies and strawberries. We’ll bake pizzas from Papa Murphy’s. After that we will open gifts and have cookies and coffee. I am looking forward to this and my stomach ache is easing up a bit.
I haven’t completely thrown tradition out the window. We will use the Christmas tree plates and sit at the dining room table. We will open Christmas poppers which contain jokes, tiny toys, and paper crowns. We will wash the dishes before gift opening. Most of the day and evening will remain unchanged.
But I wonder how many years it will be before we use paper plates….
Happy Holidays to all of my friends and readers. See you in 2016!