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Our Story Begins
The Stress of the Season


“I don’t know how you do it all!”

It’s a line I get all the time, particularly this time of year.

“How do you do it?!”

Let me give you the absolute, biggest, most horrifying secret in the entire world: I don’t.

“What?! My God! The horror! It’s the end times! Dogs and cats living together . . . it’s mass hysteria!”

Yes, my dear parental units, there’s a simple solution to getting through the holiday season, even as a single parent, alone, no other parent to help.

You just don’t do it all.

Related: Our Story Begins: Give Me a Break!

Don’t take that to mean that everything screeches to a halt. That’s certainly not the case. What I have to do in this instance is prioritize . . . and the holidays become the priority.

My laundry hamper . . . it’s more than a little full. Still, there’s a method to that madness. Sure, it’s full, but realizing that at least two of the four kids in the house will leave on their pajamas through 3/4 of the day you don’t need to run the washer every day.

I took a week off to catch up. I’ll bake, cook, clean, do all that. I also have been buying presents since August. That way I spread out the pain a bit and have them ready. I wrap at night just before bed so that no kids see me and so that I am just as tired as possible before I get to bed. Oh, wait…that’s normally the case.

After wrapping I know I have more to wrap so for at least a few days the bows, leftover paper, tubes of wrapping paper, they all sit out on the floor. It’s just easier for me that way. Is it messy? Yes. Do I care? Nobody’s coming over that I know of so . . . no.

I don’t mean to sound like Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas here, and I’m not going to quote scripture. Yet you should remember a certain truth: the whole reason people like me love this season is for the fact that you are together with your family. The house? It’s a mess. I try, though, to make it the same mess I grew up with.

So for a week I will bake…cookies, pies, treats, all of it. Why? Because my mother and grandmother did it and it was wonderful. They are some of the best memories I have, coming to my grandmother’s house, the kitchen smelling like sugar cookies and turkey and dressing and whatever else she made. I now make that my tradition for the kids.

They love the holiday because it’s Christmas. Sure . . . they ask they fat guy with the beard and the red suit for everything and he gets credit for the big presents. But even bleary-eyed and barely awake, walking down the stairs, to see the exhausted yet adrenaline-fueled love and laughter that morning and the hugs and love from what the season is? That’s amazing.

When we all work together to make dinner their aunt and cousins come over? They are even more excited about that. That . . . well that’s the reason we do this season.

It’s also why I love it so much.

So stress about your matching ornaments or about your gifts or whether the decorations are placed just-so. Think about commercialism or what have you.

After losing one of the most important family members a few years ago we could have scrapped this whole season.

Instead it became more important.

That’s my lesson for you . . . and that’s how I do it!