The Ghost of My Christmases Past

I was running around the neighborhood last night, solo, enjoying all the Christmas lights when I ran into her–The Ghost of My Christmases Past. And before I knew it, she bitch-slapped me!

I can’t say I didn’t deserve it.

I’ve spent entirely too much time and energy as of late focused on feeling overwhelmed. It’s easy to do in December in our house. We’ve got Christmas and New Years, two birthdays, two sports, a calendar filled with practice schedules and parties and an irregular custody schedule, three stockings to fill twice, the pressure of only living once, and a partridge in a pear tree. We had just finished decorating our Christmas tree the Sunday after Thanksgiving when I had a complete breakdown. It wasn’t even December yet, but it was close.

(What do the (other) nerds say? “Winter is coming.” That’s a thing, right? I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but it sounds ominous. I think it might apply here. Yes. Winter is coming…)

The last couple years I played it as cool as I could. As you know, I am very cool, so things went relatively well and I only completely lost my shit a couple of times. I gave myself a couple of passes. I figured I was new to this whole wife and stepmom and family thing two years ago, and I extended myself additional grace last year since I threw a new job and a seasonal coaching gig into our winter wonderfulland. But this year I thought I should get my shit together.

I started Christmas shopping early. I started birthday shopping early, too. St. Nick and Santa weren’t going to sneak up on me; I had a plan. But the best-laid plans…yadda, yadda…


In my heart of Christmas hearts, I’m Buddy the Elf–no, I’m Amy the Elf (what’s your favorite color?!). I go on Christmas light runs, for goodness sake. I actually “oooo” and “ahhh” over tinsel and twinkling trees. But I am susceptible to the expectations of the season. In fact, I think I have a weak emotional immune system come December. So it’s a small miracle I made it to 2018 in one, relatively sane, piece.

It kills me a little to admit that. For years I spent the holiday season happy but hopeful. Happy that I got to spend time with family and friends, cozy and comfortable. Happy that I got to give and receive thoughtful gifts. Happy that it was possible to watch “A Christmas Story” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” at any given time of day or night by tuning into one cable channel or another. At the same time, I was hopeful. Hopeful that someday, when my sister’s husband and my cousin’s husbands and my uncles went out to warm up the cars before we all headed home from our Christmas gathering, someone might go out and warm up my (our?) car, too. Hopeful that some Saturday leading up to a Christmas future, I could curl up with somebody on the couch to watch “Love Actually” (again). Hopeful that maybe next year the comfort and coziness of the season would be more comfortable and cozier with a little more love in my life.

And that’s why The Ghost of My Christmases Past bitch-slapped me. And that’s why I deserved it. My life is more comfortable and cozier now. It’s also crazier and more challenging, which is why The Ghosts of My Christmases Past will probably have to wind up and slap me again at some point. Probably next year when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending to-do list of the Menzel Family Christmas season. And that slap will remind me that I get to buy more birthday gifts and I get to give more Christmas gifts. I get to cheer Ian on at his basketball games, and I get the opportunity to coach and be called “Coach” again. I get to spend half the time with Ben and Ian, and I get to spend the other half otherwise connecting with my wonderful husband. I still get to go on Christmas light runs and then I get to drive my little family around to show them all my favorite sparkly displays. (And they get to enjoy every second of it.)

I get to fill the stockings. And I get that my life is fuller because of it all.


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