Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Hang-Ups on the Road...

I don't know what it was that originally gave me this picture of "The Perfect Christmas" in my mind. Seriously. I wish I could nail it down so I could hammer it into oblivion.

The house immaculately decorated with perfectly coordinating Christmas accessories. The gifts beautifully wrapped and themed, waiting under the tree weeks before Christmas day. The baking complete way before schedule, with every bite invoking a roll of the eyes and contented sigh from any and all who tasted.

Oh, and the weekend of Christmas itself: all social gatherings attended, arriving exactly on time with arms full of sweets and gifts, delighting all in attendance.

Some days I really wonder about myself. (Especially, like, today, when I just typed out all my silly little expectations and actually read them.) What was I thinking?

I'll give myself one small iota of satisfaction: the house WAS decorated. Perhaps not immaculately, and not exactly perfectly coordinating, but decorated it was...um...is. (I'm not taking it down until January 1; now's the time I can really enjoy it!)

The gifts were wrapped and under the tree, but I was still tagging them the night before each gathering, so I'm pretty much below standard there.

LOTS of baking was indeed completed...but most of it was done in a "night before" fashion. There was at least one item that everyone really seemed to love, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

We were unable to attend three Christmas parties (parties that I would have really loved to go to) due to the fact that I was so incredibly busy editing Holiday Photos so I could get them back to families who wanted them for Christmas gifts. (One was also due to the fact that my husband had to work, as well.) There just are never enough hours in the day. (This prompted me to decide that next year I would need to be much better at scheduling Holiday Photo Shoots for my clients, so as to have enough time to visit with friends and family during Christmas.)

The major potholes on the Road to Domestication were encountered over the Christmas weekend (of course, at the last minute when I could do nothing but smile pretty and wing it!)

1. My dumb and stupid Orange Cranberry Pound Cake (which I made in a bunt pan) not only refused to cook properly, but it also caved in, causing my Christmas 2011 Meltdown. My husband is SO patient with me.

2. My pie crusts for my Two-Tiered Strawberry Pie bubbled up in the center and shrunk on the sides, something I have never seen my pie crust do. I will be buying pre-made from here on out.

3. I forgot to get a lime to garnish the Key Lime Pie with key lime slices...which sounds really silly, but on top of the caving-in bunt and the blowing-up crusts...really made for an issue. Again - my husband is SO patient with me.

When it was all said and done, it was a wonderful Christmas. And it wasn't because of immaculate decorations, beautiful gifts, amazing baked goods or a perfect schedule.

It was because, at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, I looked up from a very messy kitchen and realized, it was Christmas! My eyes filled with tears as I thought of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I stopped everything I was doing and wished HIM a happy birthday, and thanked Him for everything He has done for me. At that point, nothing else mattered...and I won't lie, I was a mess. But I felt absolutely wonderful. And I didn't care about any of the trivialities. It was all about HIM.

I'm trying to keep that moment fresh in my mind, because, after all, isn't that what every day should be like? In the midst of the business that seems to be our lives these days, shouldn't we stop and thank Him for all He's done? It doesn't matter if things aren't working out right...it doesn't matter if we're a flat out hot mess. HE is still worthy. And that's what DOES matter.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, and may this new year be one filled with blessings...and much thanksgiving!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'll Rest...If I Have to SCHEDULE One, I'll Rest!!!

For the past few years, December has proved to be a pretty crazy month for me. (I guess it's a pretty crazy month for everyone. right?) But as I watched it approach this year, I was almost dreading it. And that's pretty sad.

Why would I dread December? Because I can't seem to remember back to a December when I was NOT sick. And tired. And run down. And exhausted. And had just plain had ENOUGH of everything and everyone. I'm just bein' real here, folks. You know it's happened to you before, too!

In previous years, December meant:

1. Participate in the Worship Arts Ministry Christmas Program (normally more than one performance)

2. Assist with the K.I.D.S. Church Christmas Program

3. Plan and execute a Board of Directors Christmas Party

4. Plan a Church-Wide Christmas Dinner

5. Participate in the Worship Arts Ministry special performances (normally something along the lines of caroling)

6. Perform photo shoot after photo shoot and then work miracles with fast editing so all my clients had their photos and photo cards back in time for Christmas
7. Oh, did I mention I work a full-time job, too?

8. Oh yes, there's also baking, shopping, wrapping and planning to do for my friends and family!

9. And the Christmas card mailing, and the Christmas parties, and cooking...

10. Plus the fact that I was always house-sitting for friends, pet-sitting for neighbors, babysitting for babies...

All of the above contributed to me either paying homage to the Porcelain King or worshipping the Puffs Plus with Lotion...instead of being able to focus on the King of Kings. (Yeah, it IS His birthday, right?) By the time I got to December 31, I didn't have much hope for the new year.

2011 really has been an amazing year, but it's been quite the year of change for me. I've gotten married, moved to a different city, changed full-time jobs...LOTS of CHANGE. And, coming up on December, I was okay with that, I just knew that things could not be the same this time around.

So I made a decision.

Each big activity I plan to be involved in, I must also plan to rest after. If there is no time to rest after, then it's not the activity to be involved in.

Plain and simple.

The problem is that, as much as I think I've conquered the need to say "Of course!" to anyone who asks me for anything, I have not. It is still a giant in my life, but I think I might have beaten it down just a little bit more this time! I wish I could understand what it is that rises up inside me and makes me think I have to accomplish everything for everyone perfectly and in record time! However, here we are, half-way through December. I'm not sick. I'm not stressed. I'm not totally exhausted. And it hasn't killed me to say "no".

I won't say I haven't been stressed at all this month, or that there hasn't been a project or two that's very dear to my heart that I haven't been able to participate in, or that my husband hasn't had to drop everything he's doing just to calm me down, or that everything has gone completely according to plan, but I'm halfway there. And you know what? I'm ENJOYING this December! For the first time in years, I really am!

Now, the question is, can I live like this for the rest of the months in any given year? Oh boy. Only time will tell!