As I worked yesterday and the amount of people coming through my check-out in a tired, grumpy frame of mind increased, I realised that we really do seem to have this season of joy and peace, somewhat, completely, wrong.
One lady I served, came through with a mop bucket full of cleaning gear. Without me saying anything at all, she launched into a tirade of the pressures of having her family down for Christmas, all the cleaning she felt she had to do, not to mention the cooking and then afterwards she's just have to clean all over again. She sighed, paid and headed off with out even a glimmer of a smile.
The Bakery Department Manager came through my check-out yesterday looking weary and fed up.
"Well it must be winding down for you now," I said, hoping to cheer her slightly. She looked at me with quite a forlorn look and said, "nope - we start Hot Cross Bun preparation now."
What can you say to that??
It just seems to be the way it is. We go from one thing to the other. And we don't take the time to enjoy the thing that we're doing before it's time to start stressing over the next thing.
Already by this time of the year, everybody is exhausted from all the "normal stuff" - school and other extra curricular activities are over and the break-up party has been held, it's getting hotter, and for at least a couple of months we've been bombarded with "last minute Christmas ideas" advertising, and the stress of forgetting that visitor who just popped in to say hello but who must have a present (even if they don't really exist - but you just never know!!) - phew - it's no wonder we're all a frazzled mess!!
Even our own little family is feeling the pressure this year.
We normally have a very relaxed Christmas - ham sandwiches for lunch and a swim in the pool or at the beach - but this year it will be a little different. We are having Christmas Day with Nev's family and Christmas day on New Year's Day with mine.
There is a whole lot more preparation involved, packing and travelling and travelling back again. Two days full of opportunities to overeat and get hopped up on sugar, and more presents to get.
This is the way I've been thinking, and I have to say the result is a whole lot more anxiety and stress.
I've been worried that I'm not getting enough hours at Woolies to be able to afford Christmas.
I've been worried that there has been someone I've forgotten to send a card to or that the present I've bought for this person won't be suitable.
But this little thought on my window calendar pulled me up short -
"We expect too much at Christmas. It's got to be magical. It's got to go right. Feasting. Fun. The perfect present. All that anticipation. Take it easy. Love's the thing. The rest is tinsel."
All of this is just frivolous. All of this is just passing insanity.
I had to give myself a very stern talking to.
(Proper English School Marm's voice needed.....)
"Helen - stop long enough to realise this is the first Christmas with Nev's family for 14 years. You love these people, and they love you. Go and enjoy, you silly old cow (or something like that). You're getting enough work for now, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the children before they go to school next year and as for all the presents, it's just too jolly late so you're going to have to deal with it. Now take a Bex and have a good lie down..."
Happy Birthday Jesus. Forgive me for getting so wrapped up in tinsel that I forget to celebrate you and all that you've done. Thankyou for all the blessings - family especially!