Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Stressmas

Merry Stressmas, everyone. It’s the happiest time of year - yes, if you're 10 years old. For the rest of us, the holidays are the most stressful time of year - more so than all the other holidays combined. I'd put it up there with a tax audit or getting laid off.

Yesterday, the kids were off from school due to a blizzard that hit Long Island Saturday night. Naturally, I did what any responsible grown up would do on a Monday morning - I stayed home to take the kids sleigh riding. On the way to the park, Dawn gave me a few errands - return a rented movie and quick stop at the Post Office to drop off a package. No problem, it was not really on our way but life is all about the little detours we take - right?

So, I've got the three youngest with me as we head into town. The movie rental store and the Post Office are in close proximity but different shopping centers. Son #1 is old enough to jump out of the car and make the drops. This means no parking and everything else that goes along with getting three children in and out of a car in a busy parking lot right before Christmas. The first stop is the movie rental return which happens to be located in probably the busiest shopping center in town. The parking spaces seem to be tight and the driving isles are very narrow. I usually avoid this lot and park in a much smaller quieter lot behind the stores, but I have an assistant with me. As our first errand is complete, I head to our next stop before the slopes. I begin to maneuver slowly past the parked cars as one begins to back out of its spot. Not seeing that he is backing into the path of my vehicle I come to an abrupt stop. By this time, my vehicle was quite close to his car. Apparently too close because as we past each other the kids told me he was yelling - at me! “Really?” I said, “I don't hear a thing.” It's about 34 degrees outside, car windows are closed tight and the radio is on and believe it or not, the song playing was “It's the hap – hap - happiest time of year.....”! So I started to sing along and the kids start laughing.

Next stop was across the road - another tight parking lot. As we sat at the intersection, waiting for traffic to pass so we could cross the road and enter the parking lot, I saw that many had the same idea. Cars were trying to enter, cars were trying to leave but no one was moving - then the car horns started blowing. Son #2 thought they were intended for me and laughed "Everyone hates Daddy!" meanwhile, the song on the radio continued, 'It’s the merrrrriest season of all......”

Yes, Merry Stressmas. Less than a week to go, everyone is losing their minds and I’m going sleigh riding. Sure, there are still presents to buy and even more to wrap – the house needs cleaning, groceries to be bought and cookies to bake but the kids are home and there is snow on the ground – everything else can wait. That goes for projects at home as well. This year, I put my foot down and for once it didn’t wind up in my mouth. Sometime around Thanksgiving, I proclaimed - “No renovation projects will be started before Christmas.” I’ve learned my lesson. Last year, in an attempt to complete a basement renovation, I spent over 12 hours on my butt laying a floating wood floor on Christmas Eve. The year before was the dining room renovation started and completed the week immediately prior to Christmas. No, I’m not complaining about the work – the problem is not being able to help prepare for the big day - so, everything is on Dawn – shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning…. (not that I would actually do any of that but there’s always a first.) Actually, I took off last Friday just to wrap gifts – putting a mere dent in the pile.
I’ve also learned that nothing makes my wife happier than the sound of a running vacuum that she’s not steering. So, instead of making a mess with sheetrock and saw dust, I’m cleaning. Instead of working late into the night on another renovation before the company arrives on Christmas day, Dawn and I went shopping together and had lunch out – alone.

So, I’ve done my part to take the stress out of our holiday this year. I’m staying away from the malls and the shopping centers in town, I drive 5 mph slower than the speed limit and smile while I sing along with the radio – ‘it’s the haaaaaapiest time of the year…..’

Happy Holidays
Merry Christmas
Happy New Year