Trying to Find the Magic

When we left work on Friday, it was our last day of work for 2012, meaning that today Jimmy and I are on vacation.  Daniel is at daycare and will be going all week.  I feel a teensy bit guilty about him being at daycare and us being home, but the reality is that we have almost no preparations made for Christmas and need this week to finish buying gifts, figure out menus, order and mail cards, wrap, etc.  Oh and try to relax.  I almost forgot about that part.  We decided that today will be our officially designated “day of relaxation” in which we do absolutely nothing.  As a matter of fact, I should be back in bed trying to sleep, but the huge mug of peppermint coffee next to me likely won’t help that endeavor.

It seems a little silly that we must designate a day to relax, but it won’t happen otherwise.  Does that make us Type A planners and schedulers? And this is it.  This week is our only chance to get things done and rest because Christmas for us officially begins on Saturday with a trip to visit my mother and stepfather and won’t end until December 27.

I haven’t been sleeping well either thanks to the cold virus from hell.  My right ear is still stopped up, my voice is not as terrifying as it had been, and I now have a hacking, phlegmy cough (you’re welcome), but I’m finally starting to feel somewhat human again.  The holidays wait for no one, so preparations must continue whether I feel up for them or not!

The problem is the magic.  I don’t yet feel the magic of the holiday.  Christmas has crept up on us and slapped us in the face, and it feels like everything is conspiring to keep us from enjoying it.  Everything feels like a massive to-do list, and that’s not how I want it to be.

I’m not a religious person, so I celebrate Christmas as a holiday about love and family, which, if you don’t want to get technical about it, is the symbolism behind the season.  I love Christmas, and we love making it special for Daniel.   We are firmly on Team Santa Claus in this house.  There is a spirit to the season, and I want to help Daniel know about it and experience it.

The Newtown tragedy makes it difficult to find the magic also.  How can we think about mundane things like Christmas presents and reindeer food when there is such horror and suffering in the world?  It seems …unseemly…to be thinking about wrapping paper and what to serve for Christmas meals when there are those suffering so horrifically.

Life goes on, however.  We may feel embarrassed by it, but it’s true.  That sentiment is both reassuring and cruel.  Reassuring because it gives structure to our days; cruel because no one person can stop the wheel.  Jen wrote a great post that gives us permission to live our lives when tragedy happens around us.  And she’s right.   Feeling guilty and sad about our own celebrations won’t change what happened to those children.  We should spend that impulse fighting to change or enact laws to prevent such tragedy from ever happening again. That is a better way to honor their sacrifice.

Fake it until you make it.  Isn’t that what they say?  Today is only the first day of vacation.  Maybe I’ll feel better after more sleep, more medicine, more hugs and cuddles.  We don’t have to be superhuman parents.  Just a few small activities will help create the magic for our 3.5 year old.  Holiday stress is yet another topic left out of the non-existent parenting manual. Maybe I should give myself permission to relax and focus on only a few important things, memories I want Daniel to have.

How do you find holiday magic when life is overwhelming?


  1. Life is always overwhelming. There is tragedy somewhere every day. But there’s magic every day as well. All I can do is try to affect my small world for the better.

    Enjoy your relaxation day!

    1. Thanks! I could use a few more of those 🙂 You’re right. I think the CT tragedy seems more poignant than other tragedies which is kind of absurd in itself. I like your idea of remembering that all I can do is affect my own small world for the better.

      1. In hindsight, I feel like what I said comes off as a little heartless; we all *know* of tragedies, but it’s hard not to be affected more by ones that hit closer to home, when we can put names and faces and grieving families with the loss.

  2. I’m struggling for a lot of the same reasons as you, and I’ve taken the same approach. I’m trying desperately to “fake it.” Thankfully, my daughter is just young enough to be oblivious to all of the sadness, and just old enough to start to appreciate the magic. She’s definitely helped me keep my head just above the water through it all.

  3. I always take my kids to daycare when I have a day off. I think it’s okay to take a day off to ourselves and get the things done that we need to do. In fact, today I got a pedicure and a haircut – all while my kids were at the daycare!

    This Christmas will definitely be difficult for some people in light of what’s happened. I think it is okay to go ahead and celebrate the season, though. It just makes us more aware of how beautiful our lives are and ho lucky/blessed/privileged we are to have the people we love around us… all the time. This whole concept reminds me of a quote that goes something like: Sorrow carves deep into our souls so that one day we can hold more happiness.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!

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