No, THAT wasn't stressful at all.
I actually did quite well through the first two weeks of December because my uber-planning that began in October this year carried me up to that point.
Oh, come on, I can see
I had a Christmas project this year called the "Advent Bag" that was distributed to the recipients the last week of November to be opened each day from December 1st - 24th. The number was chosen by just a feeling I had in my spirit (without a list...I'm serious) and so were the recipients. (Sixteen of the seventeen recipients were local...so I only mailed one.) In case you are a math whiz, that meant that 408 different messages and packages had to be edited, copied, purchased, packaged, tagged, audited (to make sure that all of them were in the bag) and then delivered to the recipients. While I cannot express to you the joy that it gave me that last week in November and in December when I'd get calls, texts, hugs, notes, and words of encouragement...I will tell you that in all honesty...sometime in November I thought I'd been given an idea that was too big for me to handle. It wasn't, of course, because I believe that God wanted those bags in the hands that they were placed into...but let's just say that the stress started early. Even if it WAS fun stress.
Then there was the whole commitment to have all of the Christmas presents bought prior to December 1st. What kind of idiot does that? Answer: Me.
Actually, I ended up doing what I do every year...and that is buying early and then everyone gives me their lists as soon as I finish buying what I had budgeted. Even though I asked everyone to have me their lists no later than November 1st...that didn't exactly work out as planned. I also admit that some of the early gifts were great "deals" that I got from http://www.fatwallet.com/. Of course, Jill's enthusiasm with the Pyrex set that I ordered for her apartment next year and the bowl set from Bloomingdale's was a little less than I'd hoped. The other 17 presents I wrapped for her made up for it, though.
Yes. I did say 17 presents (actually 19). That was the most...but everyone had at least a dozen. That means that I wrapped approximately sixty gifts plus two of my own and about ten for various Dirty Santa exchanges and a friend I exchange with every year, and we are up to 72. With a gift bag ratio of 30% to 70% wrapped gifts...and each package taking at least five minutes to wrap...that makes a minimum of six hours wrapping gifts. This pales in comparison to the 120 hours that I spent watching movies on the Hallmark Channel. Of course, most of that time I was doing other things...like lying in bed unable to move except to cough...but still...
Then we got caught up in our neighborhood's first round of being "Jingled." I just cannot express how much fun this was to come home from the church's
After a round of Christmas parties, office parties, and a delightful concert at a local church of "Behold the Lamb of God" as well as our church's musical program (formerly referred to as a "cantata")...I felt quite festive. I even decorated a table at our Holiday Tea at church and had a wonderful time there and at an open house earlier that day. The next weekend I attended a Christmas shower for a sweet local girl who is getting married in March. Sometime before all of this...I helped a friend with her booth at a local church's Holiday Bazaar. Actually, I ended up doing more shopping than helping...but whatever.
But the best was yet to come! We had our family Christmas with the Mixons...where we got to enjoy time with our two "little guys" - Jacob and Noah. Babies really make the holidays seem so much more special. I know not why this is...other than it brings it all back around for us. And what's not to love about that while you are looking into the precious little faces of the next generation?
A wonderful "collective" dinner was held at a sweet friend's house and we had a delicious dinner with friends and the kids who were not working that night (sadly, Jill was) and had a chance to bless each other in fellowship. I look forward to this every year. The next day, I looked forward to the arrival of my sister, niece, nephew and my folks and my long awaited and highly anticipated week of vacation. Yes!
After making "Santa Hat Christmas mix" from my friend Sonja's Pinterest find, reading to Jingle the interactive dog from Hallmark that felt it would be really funny to not respond when I said "Jingle was such a GOOD dog" (because he obviously isn't...although he has had a recent attitude adjustment and is now cooperating in France), and hearing my voice on another book (scary!) and a treasure hunt around my house...after a trip to Sweet P's (for lunch and a cupcake) I finally sat down at some point Monday evening after they left. I was able to do a few more things that I had left undone...and I decided to do the baking later in the week. I mean...I had plenty of time, right? So, I did a few more things on Tuesday and all appeared to be well.
The week was slipping by too fast...but when I got up the next morning - on Wednesday - I made an arrangement to have lunch with a friend...which was absolutely delightful. Then I promised to help someone with a Christmas project and I went home for a nap. It was Wednesday.
Needless to say, that help to a friend didn't happen and there was no baking at Casa Mixon.
I should have known right then that something was amiss. I don't nap. Not when there are things to do, people to see and places to go. I figured that I was just a little bit tired and so I turned on the Hallmark Channel and let it rip.
Actually "ripped" would be a more fair descriptor of my throat when I awoke sometime in the middle of the night unable to sleep because I was waking myself up snoring when I wasn't dying of thirst.
This same thing went on for Thursday, Friday, and the better part of Saturday. Fortunately, a doctor that Jill was visiting called me in a Z-Pack so I could rejoin the land of the living. I am firmly convinced that this got me through Christmas without an emergency room or urgent care visit.
The wonderful "spread" that I had planned for my sweet friends on Christmas Eve was replaced by a roast in the crock pot and Big Dave's mashed potatoes. Fortunately, two clients of Big Dave's had provided a homemade cheesecake and a homemade chocolate pecan pie along with the other half of Paige's wonderful pound cake that I had managed to snatch from my family to save for later...so dessert was not a concern. My friend brought the rest of the meal.
I actually have photographic evidence of how "lovely" I was at this point in time. I don't mean to scare anyone...but sometimes a picture says a thousand words.
Actually, this picture is saying "I am a "before" picture and a reminder that it is possible to look absolutely horrible while feeling immensely grateful at the same time." Oh, it says a lot more...but I'll spare you my interpretation. I'm sure that you have found your own...all beginning or ending with "bless her heart..."
Christmas Dinner also had to be revised from a spiral ham (we bake because Big Dave doesn't want to spend $60 for a Honey Baked ham unless we are having enough people to eat it all) to ham steaks...and from sweet potato casserole to baked whole sweet potatoes.
I was able to enjoy Christmas morning and then I passed out for a couple of hours to awake at 7:00 p.m. I made a call or two and lapsed back into my bed. I use the term "my" bed because Big Dave figured that it was safer (and quieter) to be on the couch. Rebel used it as an opportunity to sleep with "Mama" and we had quite a week of bonding. Bless his little canine heart...he does love to cuddle.
The 26th was a holiday (fortunately)...so I was up and down and actually braved Hobby Lobby to try to get something for 66% off that I won't need for at least another ten months. Other than the lady on the wreath aisle that was not only blocking the aisle with the wreaths that she had in the aisle...she was standing so that her arms covered them so none of us would take them from her. Seriously, lady? I looked at the price of those wreaths and even at 66% off...they weren't a temptation to me. I did hog a few of the aprons and finally gave one up to a sweet lady who kept coveting the four I had in my cart...so I gave her one. Yes, I'm all heart.
Somehow by the grace of God, I made it back to work on the 27th. Not with makeup or a whole lot enthusiasm...but I was there. I finally went to the doctor on the 28th after both ears started aching and received a diagnosis of an ear infection in both ears, endured a steroid shot, and got a serious BOHICA in the form of a $170 antibiotic prescription. I'm assuming it is a good one for that price. It certainly better be or some pharmaceutical company will be hearing from Towanda.
And here we are.
Last night was actually a really great night for a reason other than I felt better...but we'll just have to see how that all goes.
At 5:01 tomorrow...I'll be looking forward to another holiday weekend. This time...much quieter. Except for the snoring that is coming from my room. This time it isn't me or Rebel, though...it's Big Dave. In spite of his best efforts, he seems to have a touch of what I had. Not enough for him to miss work...but enough for him to snore louder than a cross between a chainsaw and a dying caribou. Oh, I don't know what the latter sounds like...but it sounds like it would be pretty close.
I suppose that what I have learned through this Christmas season and this bout with illness is that it is possible to do everything that you want to do...but you may end up having to go with Plan B at some point during the holidays. I got to enjoy everything because I had planned so far ahead. I honestly believe that this is because God knew I was going to be taking a timeout and so He prompted me into getting everything done...and enjoyed...earlier than in past years.
On the bright side...I am well rested, Christmas is over and was wonderful, and a whole twelve months stretches out in front of us like a beautiful unwritten novel. I hope that the pages of this book will include a story of success (Jill's graduation), travel (to New York in March and to France in May) and possibly some romance. You just never know. I know that it has some valley moments that I can already anticipate as we will walk through chemotherapy with my sweet, brave, mother-in-law...but I believe in my spirit that all will be well. She's strong. A fighter. And we have her back. I also hope that we will have a lot of laughter and deeper relationships with those that we are blessed to call our friends.
Here's looking ahead...