When Hanukkah and Christmas fall close together, like they do this year, there's an extra layer of holiday-planning stress placed on families that celebrate both. Here's how MomSpeaker Brie Latini deals (or doesn't!) with the seasonal overload.
Our little apartment is finally being holiday-fied, just in time for the first night of Hanukkah. With two religions to decorate for, our place is shining with Christmas balls, twinkling lights and a variety of ornaments mixed in with my menorahs and bowls of gelt. We're not quite done yet, but my living room is already glowing with the warmth and sweetness of the holidays.
Truth be told, it drives me a little crazy. but before you get out your holiday sticks to beat down the Grinch, hear me out.
I love the holidays. I love giving gifts and being with family and receiving stacks of holiday cards in the mail. I adore holiday food and I freaking LOVE holiday baked goods. I love the magic of Christmas Eve and the excitement of Christmas morning, especially now that I have a son. Oh, and houses covered in lights. Swoon.
That whole week that contains Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Years Day? Love it, along with the eight nights of Hanukkah, which always is easy-breezy. But when Christmas ads start the day after Halloween and the traffic gets insane, I get a little panicky. It seems counter-intuitive to place so much pressure on creating holiday magic when that very pressure makes it SO NOT MAGICAL.
I know that a lot of people thrive on it. Their trees go up in early November and they start listening to the 24-hour Christmas Songs station on the radio. They have all of their holiday stuff together, and I am fully jealous of that. I am far too high-strung to be able to enjoy the holidays without feeling so much pressure — it's the same reason that wedding planning didn't agree with me. My wedding day was amazing, but planning it nearly drove me to distraction. I was far too wrapped up in creating a perfect day to get any enjoyment of out of the creating.
So how does a psycho high-strung person such as myself get through the holidays? It's hard — I always set my expectations high. I set them too high, and they inevitably fail. I used to go nuts (and broke) trying to make every wish and want come true for everyone. I still wish that I could make all of those things happen, but it's just not possible, so I've scaled back considerably. I set limits that I can meet and try not to venture out into the stores too often (can we give a "hell, yeah!" to Amazon? It has revolutionized my life!). And while the preparation might drive me a little nuts, there is always the magic of Christmas and the electricity and wonder of New Year's Eve to ease my nerves.
We put our little Christmas tree up tonight. I will, most likely, spend the next two weeks protecting it from PJ's curious and destructive hands. Shopping will make me kind of crazy, and the disruption to our routine will make PJ a little unsettled. It will be hard for me to control my temper and patience, but it will all be worth it for the one truly magical Christmas Day.
Brie Latini is a South Jersey writer and mom. This post is adapted from her blog ( . . . a breezy life).