It was somewhere just past the halfway point of the sugar cookie baking spree that ultimately produced nine dozen cutout cookie shapes that I realized I may have over-committed to Christmas cheer this year.
I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I love the lights and the colors. I love the waiting and anticipation. I love the chance to buy gifts for friends and family. I love hanging stockings by the chimney with care and playing piano duets of Silent Night with my daughter.
If pressed, I will confess that I find a good eighty-five percent of pop Christmas songs annoying rather than delightful, but apart from that one small area of Grinchiness, I’m pretty much Buddy the Elf when the holiday season rolls around. And for the record, if you do need a good Christmas CD, it’s the 2010 Glee album. You’re welcome.
That said, I may have flung myself into the season with just a little too much enthusiasm this year. It’s an occupational hazard to being divorced. When you share your kids, there’s a strong temptation to try to pack all the fun into half the time – to try to Do All the Things and not miss any opportunity to make a magical memory. With Thanksgiving coming so late this year, Advent was shortened, too, leaving only three full weekends of merriment after all the turkey feathers settled.
Somehow I managed to schedule three kids cookie parties, a progressive dinner, a tea party, and a trip to Shaker Village into the two weekends I’ll spend with the kids. Add in four theater performances for my oldest daughter, a cast party, a book club shindig, and two class parties and I suddenly realized I was on the hook for approximately 84,000 holiday treats.
Hence the sugar cookie frenzy.
I don’t want to brag, but I’m something of a superhero when it comes to sugar cookies. In this year’s batch, I’m particularly proud of the ninja-pose gingerbread figures I made for my son and his buddies to decorate.
But I was feeling a little overwhelmed by it all. When I succumb to the dark side of holiday merry-making, I can get a little tense, which doesn’t make anyone’s season jolly. Fortunately, I have a couple tried and true holiday calming tactics that I was able to quickly deploy. First, get organized. Making a list of all the events and their culinary requirements, along with a planning calendar, tamped down my growing panic. If I can plan it, I can do it.
Second, look for small moments of beauty. I have a Christmas tree in my bedroom (of course) and hit upon the brilliant idea of connecting the lights to a remote control receiver. Now I can nestle into my flannel sheets and fleecy blankets and enjoy the twinkling lights for a few moments before turning them out from the comfort of my bed. Look, I realize this is a very small thing, but I am telling you it makes a difference. Thirty seconds of calm, cozy beauty before bed does wonders for the soul.
And finally, listen to the Glee Christmas album while cleaning the kitchen. Sing along loudly for maximum effect. Your family may run from the room in terror, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you’ve just spent two hours baking cookies with three small “helpers.”