When is the last time you cried? For me, the most recent tears came just the other night. I felt them creeping up, as my lips firmly frowned. I did not want them to take over, but they did. The wet droplets against my cheeks made me feel embarrassed, even though no one was around.
Not because I was crying, but because of what I was crying about.
You see, I was crying about Christmas cards.
Frustrating emotions swept over me in the quiet of the night, after the little one was in bed, when I had attempted – for the up-teenth time this month – to make headway on some handmade Christmas cards.
But these cards were bound to go nowhere but my living room.
Seriously, what made me think I could send cards this year? This year, while dealing with severe pain from chronic Lyme disease, and mothering an active toddler?
How did I think I’d have energy for something like this? This season has been my worst yet, physically. I’m so worn out and exhausted.
But they’re just a few Christmas cards, right? Someone with better health luck may be confused, but anyone in my shoes knows the answer.
No, they’re definitely not just a few cards.
What started as a fun craft for my toddler and I has turned a giant headache, mixed with anxiety and self destructing thoughts.
It all started with fun and giggles. I didn’t expect him to love getting his hand traced as much as he did. I held his tiny fingers down against the paper once, and he asked me to do it again and again, mimicking me as I counted – “One, two, three, four, five!”
We had fun tracing the outlines of hand after hand. His right, then his left; his left again, and then back to his right. We sat on couch cushions moved from couch to floor, and listened to a”Kids Christmas” album on Spotify. Jingle Bells was his favorite.
It didn’t take long to realize I’d have way more than enough Santa hands, previously planning to just do a couple – for the grandparents. So, I started a list of who to send the extras to and came up with about twenty.
Upon beginning this little project, there was plenty of time for the cards to travel to their destinations.
Our first doodles happened the day after Thanksgiving. While most families were out getting their Christmas trees, we were stuck inside. I desperately wanted to do something festive. I dreamed of cutting down a tree, as I’d done every year from childhood till two years ago. This project (the cards) as well as a handmade wreath, did just the trick to distract me from the festivities I couldn’t partake in.
Every few days, I sat down to continue the cards, coloring in the hats, writing a short message inside, finding envelopes to fit, and addressing envelopes. I ordered pictures of Little Star to include for the grandparents.
Then, the problems came.
The supply wasn’t the problem. Gunther would let me go around his hand with a marker all day. No, the problem was me.
I greatly underestimated the work involved for such a merry activity.
First, it was the addresses. I’d written names out on multiple envelopes, expecting to later fill them in from my spreadsheet of addresses. But where was that spreadsheet? Oh yeah, it was on my laptop, which broke months ago. I got the backup hard drive out, to discover it too was broken. The thought of having to contact every person and then waiting on them to get back to me so I could write in their address, was simply overwhelming.
And so entered the feeling of being overwhelmed.
If you’re a Spoonie, you’ll understand when I say I was already beginning to borrow from tomorrow’s spoons at this moment. I should have stopped right then and there.
But no, I continued. I was so close to finishing this month-long task, I felt determined to finish it.
The next problem was stamps. I assumed we had enough stamps. But last night – just four nights before Christmas, the night I was bound to finish my project once and for all – I discovered we had a measly four Forever Stamps.
And so entered the feeling of doom.
In between tackling chores, my husband walked by and noted: “Some of those envelopes are pretty big, they’ll probably require specific postage.” Yep. Great.
Of course, the Post Office could help me out with that, but who has time or energy to run there? Especially at its busiest season? No one in this family. Maybe now is the time to sign up for Stamps.com, I thought? No, no, that would be equally impractical.
And so entered the feeling of utter exhaustion.
I was exhausted all day, but here the fatigue climaxed. Head hanging low and shoulders slumped, I stared at the cards, suddenly thinking they looked like a nice pillow to fall asleep on.
Struggling in my bout of indecisiveness (Do I finish this or give up?), the questions heaped.
Why am I doing this? I felt burdened by my project since trying to figure out how to draw a Santa face. I don’t even want to do the Santa thing with my kid, it was just a cute craft.
Am I trying to perform for someone’s approval? Am I just following suit with traditions? Am I listening to my body and its limits?
In a time of do-do-do and give-give-give, the only thing I really need to be doing right now is surviving. The only thing I need to be giving is of myself, to my family.
I need to focus on my self-care during this important time of detoxing from Lyme treatments. I need to support my husband and child as best I can.
Can you relate? Do the holidays have you stressing over menial tasks?
As much as I wanted to see these Christmas cards out my door and into a blue mailbox, at the end of the day, I knew I had to give in.
Mayyyybe I’ll send an email to the special people in my life in lieu of a physical card – sometime when I have the energy. As much as they deserve to know I’m thinking of them, most of them would probably understand.
I’m on my way to better health, but for now I am sick. For now, I need to focus on rest, as difficult as that is. For now, I need to not send snail mail or complete millions of unfinished projects.
It’s easier said than done, but tonight I am hanging up a couple of these cute little Santa hands in my own home, sealing the envelopes of four cards with printed digitals (for the grandparents), and going to bed.
There might not be rest for the weary, but we can choose to simplify where we must.
Merry Christmas, everyone. May you find peace and rest, wherever and however you can.