The Undone Christmas Eve

By Sarah Bessey

It is Christmas Eve and it’s time to let go.

My tinies are four and two this Christmas. I’m also 6 months pregnant. And three weeks ago, the flu took up (what feels like permanent) residence in our house. Illness slowly marched through the house, taking us out one by one by one with precision, leaving Mt. Washmore in its wake.

My usual Christmas idylls of homemade crafting were gone. Decorations were sparse. The Christmas cards went out but it was about a quarter of the usual list. The cookies I make every year went unmade and I bought a flat of premade dough so we wouldn’t be completely cookie-less. Christmas outings to lighted villages and visits to Santa Claus were scrapped. The hand knits for each of the tinies are nothing but a few skeins of yarn in a drawer. The evening get-togethers with friends and family for tea and cribbage didn’t happen. It’s Christmas Eve and almost everything that I usually like to do, the things that feel like “tradition” now, didn’t get done this year.

But I’ve decided that if it isn’t done today, it will simply stay undone.

Today is not the day for frantic shopping or late night wrapping. It’s not the day for marathon baking sessions with Iron Chef focus or colour-coordinating decorations. It’s not a day for rushing and spinning, building a house of straw in hopes that it holds like a rock.

Instead, it’s a day for rest.

I’ve decided to embrace a bit of imperfection this year. I refuse to turn myself into a focused automaton slavishly recreating traditions today, spending my energy on things and stuff that really don’t matter much by this point.

The truth is that these past few weeks have been quite nice (well, aside from the obvious accompaniments of a family flu). There hasn’t been any panic or frenzy. No fighting crowds. Not even any guilt (well, not much anyway). There’s been good music and a lot of cups of tea with conversation. Relaxing in front of classic Christmas movies (I never tire of Charlie Brown’s Christmas) and early winter sunsets over pine trees. It’s meant that the stuff – the gifts, the traditions, the food, the decorations, the expectations – hasn’t been the focus this year.

It’s Christmas Eve today and there is much that went undone this year. But today, we’ll have hour long bubble baths. We’ll play or read books, maybe watch a movie. After soup for supper, we’ll take the tinies to our local church so that they can dress up like a cow and a sheep to sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I’ll sit in the audience between my husband and my parents. We will all clutch our hearts over how beautiful they are and we’ll light candles as we sing the same songs being sung by so many through the ages. We’ll go home and tuck everyone into bed before sitting in front of the tree for a while and paging through well-worn Bibles to read the same story over again. We’ll probably play cribbage while eating the store-bought cookies.

No one is awarding me points for Christmas. There isn’t a medal for the Christmas Olympics. There isn’t a judge for Christmas – other than myself.

I had a good chat with Little Miss Perfect Christmas (who, not surprisingly, looks alarmingly like Martha Stewart) on my shoulder and informed her that I wasn’t playing her game this year.

In fact, I may not play next year either.

Your turn: What are you doing this Christmas Eve? And happy Christmas!

Sarah blogs at Emerging Mummy.

5 Responses to The Undone Christmas Eve
  1. Kimberly
    December 25, 2010 | 10:55 pm

    This year, I took a similar approach. We didn’t have the flu (thank goodness and crossing my fingers that we won’t get it), but I had a lot of extra stress at work and way too much on my plate. So, I decided that I’d rather ENJOY the holiday than try to create a perfect one.

    It was such a refreshing change. And, shockingly, my house is still a disastrous mess this evening. You know what? I don’t even care. My kids are home. We’re warm and fed. The noises of the new gifts fill the air and life is good.

    I agree. We should do this next year too!

  2. Eileen
    December 28, 2010 | 3:03 am

    I let go long ago…chronic illness demanded it. This year my youngest…11, decided she wanted to do the tree ALL by herself. I let it go and it is “perfectly imperfect!”. We bought the fridge store bought dough too…and THAT is what we did Christmas EVE day, made some homemade soup and a pie (storebought crust) and hubby cooked some quick seafood instead of a lavish meal that would completely UNDO me. We got to enjoy the BEST Christmas Eve service I have ever witnessed in my life (and I am MANY moons old), and i think it was because I was not harried. We had some things to wrap late night but decided to wait and do some things slow and sure on Christmas Day. We went BOWLING on Christmas Day and are celebrating with family little by little, parties before and after Christmas. I was not so crazy about cleaning the house like a maniac. This was the first year in 29 years we had no one in the house all to-do about SANTA…and it was easy. Now THIS week will be all about all the family together and doting on grandkids,…but it was so nice to really enjoy the REASOn for the season. It was Heaven on earth!

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