Jump to content

My Holiday Pet Peeve


Recommended Posts

So yesterday I realized that I have a holiday pet peeve that I didn't know about.

It's all the press that 'the stress of the holidays' is getting. And by stress I mean the, "Oh, WOE is me, when will I ever get all these presents purchased and wrapped?!" And the, "Oh, WOE is me! How will I ever be able to make and hand out 1 million dozen cookies?!" And, "Oh, WOE is me! I have to spend time with my family this Christmas!"

It gets to me because... well... the last two Christmases have been so hard for me. They HAVE been stressful, but not for any of those reasons. Two years ago, I was facing down a year where I knew I'd be splitting time between two states 2000 miles apart to squeeze in all the time I could with my husband before he deployed and between all of his 'out and back' trips to the boat AND maximizing all the time I could with Mom. The 'diagnosis' became firm and official and stage IV the beginning of December and it was hard not to just reel with the shock of it all. And... we were expecting Carolyn which was so joyful and wonderful, but stacked on top of the other things carried with it so many "What ifs...." and bittersweet feelings.

Last Christmas was my first Christmas without Mom and it was so very, terribly hard. My husband was in Iraq. His Grandfather passed away 3 days before Christmas Day and I attended his funeral on Christmas Eve. I was on the road with Carolyn--luckily my Sister-in-law's family took us into their vehicle so I didn't have to do all the driving..... And so many people were telling me to 'cherish this first Christmas with Carolyn.' That Christmas was so full of grief over Mom and Grandpa... the missing of my husband... the logistical nightmares that occurred with the trip and the Red Cross call I had to put through to Andy... It was just so hard.

The year that Mom was sick the message that Christmas is about a light shining in the darkness hit me and hit me hard. We heard it over and over. I started saying it in different ways to myself and to others over and over.... And I GOT IT for the first time--It wasn't about hype and excitement. It was about hope in a dark world. Amd those two years, more than anything I needed HOPE AND LIGHT in my dark world.

On top of all that, at church yesterday the prayer requests were heart-breaking. Two or three recent deaths. One terminal cancer diagnosis. Several other prayer requests that were dire... And I'd spent part of the service watching a 14 year old girl perform a special music number with a group of the youth, and I watched her face knowing that her Mom and Dad are divorcing this year, and I just ached at what their Christmas would be like this year. And I know how hard it is when the world is hyped up about the smarmy details of Christmas and your world has just shattered, because my past two Christmases have been in the midst of world-shattering. So my heart ached all the more.

So... when I hear the commercials, or I hear people say, "I'm so stressed out by all that I have to do!" I just want to scream, "Get your priorities straight!" I want to tell people to stop giving themselves ulcers over ribbons and bows and candy that doesn't ever get to 'soft ball' stage, and to instead look around at their family.... and at their faith.... and to remember to cherish the people that they love around them.

It has very much to do with my grief and missing of Mom. I know I feel this way because my world has been tossed on it's head and I will never see it the same way again.

Just wondering if anybody else was feeling this way or if I'm just at a stage of going off on diatribes until people pass out from boredom. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are such a great writer Val. You put everything I think into words.

I am not in your shoes yet, I have not lost my parents yet, but I do share your sentiment. People at work are like happy holidays and I say that's nice, people close to me lose their loved ones, this is a horrible time for them, but yeah, happy holidays. Some people look at me strange, others understand.

And I have responded a few times about the "stress" of not getting all presents bought, not having enough time with holiday cards, with things like "yeah, I heard chemo is a good time to do holiday cards, but thankfully you are here instead of there" or "be thankful you have people to buy for", etc, etc.

There was some incident at work and the office manager wanted to know who told me something and I wouldn't squeal. We argued and I literally yelled at her (which is something I do NOT normally do) "You know, I really don't care, is this cancer related? is this life or death? is this medical related? No, then I don't care, not worth my time". I can't imagine having said that 3 years ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Val, how I envy how articulate you are!!!I USED to be one of those who would be in a total meltdown if I didn't bake the 12 different kinds of cookies and get them all done up for giveaway. I HAD to have at least a million gifts for each grandchild. There could be not a hint of dust.....even under the gusetroom bed. I sent hundreds of cards and had to have perfect handwriting on each and every one. Oh, the list can go on and on, but I think you get the idea.

Well, Val, I was dx just about the same time as your dear Mama was ~ in the fall of '04. That certainly turned my life upside down. I was not even supposed to be home for the holiday. My surgery was scheduled for 2 days before Christmas. So I didn't shop, didn't bake one freakin' cookie, didn't decorate, didn't clean........ Well, surgery date changed and suddenly all were coming and nothing was ready. WONDEFUL people made Christmas happen for all of us that year. And it was perfect. Grandchildren were not upset that there were 2-3 gifts for each (which good friends took care of buying) and a good friend and our GREAT neighbors made dinner appear for all. I believed it would be my last Christmas and it was PERFECT just the way it was.

Well, I am still here. I made a couple of cookies ~ only this time I actually let Fred eat some ~ wasn't saving them for 'special' people becuase no one is more special than my Fred. I sent a couple dozen cards to very dear friends.....not every da#$ person I know. Grandchilren have some more than a couple of presents, but not too many to count or to even remember. There is some dust and dog hair and that makes it more festive. The hole in the ceiling MAY be fixed by the big day, but may not.....and that is okay too.

So I GET it, VAl. Yesterday in church I really wanted to pray for myself and my family. But all I could do was pray for ALL who have been touched by LC.......people like me, family members, friends, those left behind. I asked God to wrap His arms around them all. I am so very lucky. And I am so glad that most of the people I know can worry about all the frivolous things they do and don't have LC in their lives. But MY life is richer indeed because of it.

Sorry I seem to have gone on a bit. You obviously hit a chord at this particular moment. You, Val, are just one more reason that I can count blessings this holiday instead of cards and cookies and gifts.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

It seems all those so called "stresses" are actually the joys that everyone else has mis-labled.

Oh the stress of shopping...oh to have that "stress" for just one more Christmas to find Mom the perfect gift and have her open it in front of me.

The stress of having to fit in all the family obligations...oh to have that "stress" of arriving at Mom's and her having my stocking filled because santa had been there (even at 31 Y/O).

The stress of cooking and groceries...yes that terrible "stress" of sharing a meal with my wonderful mother.

The stress of cards...ah yes, the "stress" to send everyone a greeting, because all is well and just wanted to say hi. I'd love to be able to just write Merry Christmas to all I know because that's all that is on my mind.

The stress of another party...ah the "stress" of actually being in a mood where partying seems appropriate.

I wouldn't mind a bit of that stess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I totally GET it!!!! This was the year I was taking my mom to Disneyworld for Christmas. We decided 4 years ago to forget the STRESS' at Christmas. Oh sure we went shopping but enjoyed every moment of it. We only bought for the immediate family, and didn't buy a lot of stuff, but we would take a vaca and also help the less fortunate. So last Christmas Day, the six of us (Mom,her husband, me, hubby,and 2 daughters) decided this Christmas, we would do stocking stuffers, and spent the week at Disneyworld.Well who knew that Mom would get sick on the 27th of Dec. I love Christmas time---but, I hate the hustle bustle and trying to pick the right gift for someone you hardly know, so I just don't do it. I feel like scrooge this year, but everyone says they understand. I love spending time with the family, which we will do, and we requested no gifts. I always feel like I need to buy a gift if someone gives me one, and I don't want to do that. So we suggested that everyone pick a family or a name from the angel tree and buy for them. The four of us, stuck with the idea of only stocking stuffers. We are leaving in the morning for Park City, Utah-skiing and snowboarding and we will return on Christmas Eve. We have family coming in that day from 6 hours away, so we are excited.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

[Treebywater] I just want to scream, "Get your priorities straight!"...Just wondering if anybody else was feeling this way or if I'm just at a stage of going off on diatribes... ;)

From what I've read here the past few days, many in the LCSC feel exactly as you do. Our blood boils when we see those happy, carefree, shallow faces or those clueless masses "giving themselves ulcers over ribbons and bows and candy."

But then I wonder, how many of the currently clueless will themselves be getting a crash course in priorities this coming year? How many will find themselves posting in the INTRODUCE YOURSELF forum? Their sudden misfortune will give none of us any comfort. Instead, they will be welcomed warmly just as the formerly clueless among us were welcomed not long ago.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can so identify with your sentiment. Even with out Christmas, I want to shake people and wake them up when I hear moaning and even worse anger about things that have no meaning.

Cancer puts one into a perspective that I welcome. Of course I wish my situation were different - but I can honestly say that I thank God for how good I feel (often) and mostly how mentally well I feel. I have a sense of contentment, that makes every moment enjoyable.

My wish for the Holidays is that all could feel a sense of peace and joy - and keep it with them.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know Treeby...this is so ironic! I just got off the phone with my mom...the conversation went something like this...

Mom: So, what are you doing?

Me: Polishing my gold medal!

Mom: Why, were the kids rough tonight? (my husband is in Mexico for work)

Me: No, not really. I just finished decorating cookies with Zach.

Mom: Oh Wow! I can remember decorating cookies with the kids before Thanksgiving, just so that I would have the spirit by Christmas. What a stressful job.

Me: Oh I know. Thankfully the best part about having a small kitchen is the fact that when you have sprinkles from one end to the other, it isn't a very big space.

These times are precious...why should I even complain! I will forever cherish the sprinkles from one end to the other...or the cookies that are 2 inches thick of frosting, or the look on his face when I took the picture of him standing over 5 dozen cookies...

We are beat, but we are blessed! Thanks mom for teaching me to keep that spirit!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I sit here at 3:45 am after nursing my daughter, born after 2 miscarriages, thank you Val, for putting my "misery" of being up at this hour into perspective. I feel the same way you do when people complain about having to visit family, etc.... I treasure anytime I can spend with my dad or my healthy mom for that matter, don't know what the future might hold....how hard it must be for my dad. Well, need to get to bed before anyone else decides to wake up :) Good for you for posting this pet peeve.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I recently had a conversation with a friend who told me about an arguement her sister and sister-in-law had about a gift. My reaction was "Oh how I long for a life where things like that are important". After being through the things we have you just can't sweat the small stuff.

My Mom always took the attitude that there are things in life that are worth getting upset about and there are things that are not. I'm definitely my Mom's kid.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Val, your maturity at such a young age never ceases to amaze me. I am so much older than you, yet have learned so very many valuable lessons about life from reading your posts. Losing a loved one or battling a disease like lung cancer certainly challenges almost everything we have known throughout our lives to be true. Like most of you, I always thought that everything would always be alright with my sweet little family. I thought that Dennis and I would grow old together and bounce lots of grandchildren on our knees. It was as if all of the "bad things" in life seemed to happen to other people and my family would always be alright. So, now all the hustle and bustle of life seem so small and insignificient to my family after losing Dennis. I know that my family "gets it" and it's a real shame that people not affected by this disease don't "get it" until after it's too late!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for the wonderful words. I echo your feelings exactly. I was just thinking yesterday about how unimportant Christmas seems to me this year, and how I hope that some day I'll be able to enjoy a Christmas again. Certainly not this year.

All I can do is continue to pray for all of the survivors and their families who, unfortunately, know how life can change with one single phone call. Ellie (Sis)

Link to comment
Share on other sites


It isn't just cancer that can be a reality check. I haven't slept for the last two nights because two new little monsters crawled out from under my bed. I live in a small town - outside of town, actually. Neighbors here may not know each other's names, but they know faces and they know the "headcount" of the house.

Sunday afternoon, the house across the street started smoking. My mother noticed the white smoke curling out of the eaves, yelled to my father and went into the house to get the phone and call 9-1-1. She ran down their driveway while talking to the operator and flagged down another neighbor. The neighbors knew the "headcount" - three kids, two dogs and a cat.

The neighbor my mother flagged down happened to have been on the all-volunteer fire department just six months prior...he kicked down the door and went into the house. These people could hear the dogs whining and barking...and could not get to them.

No one was home, in fact, they pulled into my driveway about the time the third fire truck arrived and the father took off running toward the house. They came home to their house on fire and soon realized that they had lost two pets.

I will never forget the sight of the firemen carefully bringing the little bodies out of the house and helping the family bury their dogs. It's been keeping me up at night. It wasn't for lack of trying, the neighbor sliced his arm up breaking windows trying to get in, but then the smoke was just too heavy and too hot...

Sunday, a week before Christmas. No more stress about cookies and wrapping gifts and planning a dish to pass... Three kids, second grade and younger, were left with the clothes on their back.

Oh, it could have been much worse, from the time I heard the first fire truck and saw the thin white smoke to the time the black smoke started billowing out every window was at max ten minutes. I asked my mother later if she had heard smoke detectors going off in the house - and there hadn't been any. Had the fire happened at night, the firemen may have pulled out more little bodies...

...but I soooo feel the pain of losing the dogs - I like my dog more than I like most people.

Horrible...just horrible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand completely! This is my first Christmas without Joe and I have been dreading it. It has been very hard.

I wasn't going to put up any decorations but finally put up a few. Did send out cards. The joy of Christmas just isn't in me. People keep saying "Oh aren't you glad, Christmas is almost here!" and "Oh I can't wait for..." this and that. To be honest, I am glad Christmas is almost here because that means it is almost over!!! Just get it behind me! My family isn't the most supportive and we have always been very dysfunctional. I would actually rather be alone this year. Talk about depression!! YIKES!

Anyhow.....I understand what you mean. People get all worked up over the stupidest things! They will never realize that until they loose someone they love deeply.

Despite all the sadness, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas! We can all get through it together!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.