EDITED TO ADD: On the original image at the top of this post, I spelled "Expectations" without the first "t." Yes, it said "Expecations." For a good 6 hours. And according to my stats, 2,300 of you saw it like that. So if that doesn't show what my reality is this holiday season, I'm not sure what does. xo, m
Every year, I tell myself that this year, I'm really going to take the time to enjoy the holidays. Late November rolls around and suddenly my mind auto-formulates an endless list of plans involving participation in cheery activities galore. I envision lots of DIY projects, baking, decorating, holiday light car rides with hot chocolate, attendance at every holiday party to which we're invited (dressed to the nines, of course), cozy evenings spent writing out holiday cards with Christmas music playing on crackling vinyl in the background, lots of snuggled-up couch time full of holiday movies and spicy scented candles and toasty fires in the fireplace, and plenty of time to shop for the perfect gifts which will then be wrapped with equally perfect aesthetic details. I don't know if it's a false nostalgia I've created or if I really did squeeze in all of this stuff on a yearly basis at one time, but it certainly never works out this way these days. Not even close.
Right now, I'm typing this in my studio (wearing a bathrobe and socks mid-afternoon), surrounded by the following: invoices, half-finished orders, empty ink cartridges, a laundry basket full of baby clothes that need to be washed, an unfinished nursery around the corner, piles of scribbled 'must do before the baby comes' lists, overflowing garbage and recycling baskets, a blog datebook that is totally empty for January because I still haven't quite figured out a plan for balancing work and a newborn, a page of handwritten holiday DIY project plans and big holiday blog post ideas that realistically probably won't come to fruition, and a very messily half-hung piece of holiday garland that I attempted to begin to put up over the loft railing nearly two weeks ago. When I walk away from my work zone, I am greeted by a house that is equally in shambles. I think I've forgotten how to make a bed or eat dinner before 10 PM. Oh yeah, and my nine-month-pregnant hands look like swollen, bursting sausages, which makes packing orders and typing emails and posts exciting new challenges. There is no holiday music, just the sound of my coughing (chest colds during pregnancy rock!). There are no Christmas cookies baking in the oven, just piles of dirty dishes and empty mugs surrounding me on my desk. If my weekly OB appointment wasn't in a couple of hours, I highly doubt a shower would be included in today's schedule. I secretly high five myself if I remember to plug the tree lights in at the end of the day. I have purchased two whole holiday gifts though. So that's something.
Honestly, I think this is the reality for most of us. I'm not quite sure why I get the idea in my head each year that this time, I'm going to really take in the season. I shouldn't complain though. For me, the lack of time and energy to enjoy more holiday activities is due to two things: I am slammed with work at my businesses, and I'm about to have a baby (in 3 weeks! What?!). Having a successful season at work and getting to be a mom in a few weeks seem like pretty great reasons not to have time for holiday relaxation if you ask me. Just like every other year though, I'm somehow a little surprised. I think that this year, I'm actually more surprised. Usually around this time, I'm getting ready to head to Mexico with Robbie and the band for a week or their annual festival down there. And because I can't go this year, I was certain that I'd have more time for holiday enjoyment. Wrong! I also thought that despite my pregnant friends' tales of great exhaustion and pain during the final few weeks, I'd continue to be full of energy and feeling physical great. Wrong again!
As I sit here staring at the coffee cup stain on my holiday card list, knowing that for the first year since I was 12 I probably won't have time to send out cards (kind of ironic when part of the reason I won't have time is because I'm so busy making holiday cards for orders!), I have to smile. Blogs, as fun and festive as they are this time of year, can be misleading places. Bursting with holiday inspiration and perfectly edited portraits of the season, they represent such a tiny fragment of the reality of bloggers' actual lives. I'm as "guilty" of this as anyone. Despite well-cropped pictures on my Instagram account of the few holiday decorations I have managed to get up this year or posts here on the blog overflowing with holiday DIY ideas and holiday inspiration, things just don't look quite that pretty (or holiday-ish) around here right now. This is my reality, and I'm okay with it. That doesn't mean that I won't have the same holiday season expectations again next year, or that I won't be equally as surprised when they don't turn out that way. But taking a few minutes to reflect on the reality of it all puts things in perspective. Maybe not having the time or energy to live up to these expectations just makes me appreciate the few little holiday moments I get to squeeze in all the more.
Perhaps you also have high holiday expectations that involve lots of extra time to enjoy the season. Or maybe they involve having an immaculately decorated house, or completing a plethora of festive DIY projects and crafts, or being able to buy the very best gifts. Just remember that in the end, real life happens, and ultimately, it's usually better than fantasy (or unrealistic expectations) anyway. So whether you're eating fresh-from-the-oven gingerbread cookies in your prettiest party dress with a home full of shiny, perfectly-in-place decor (set against the sounds of Christmas caroling, of course), or you're passed out in your work clothes on the couch at the end of a long day surrounded by dirty dishes (set against the sounds of a holiday commercial or two coming from the television in the background), I hope you're able to find enjoyment in your holiday moments - no matter how small or simple or imperfect they may be.