As they approached the holiday season, two women commiserated about their lives.
“You know what we need?” Liz announced to her sister-in-law Maren. Both women had their stressors. “We need a girl’s night. Why don’t you—just you—come out to the shore, spend the weekend? We’ll shop in St. Michaels, a dog-friendly town.” Liz took her last sip of oolong. “And, we’ll bake Christmas cookies.”
“Sounds good,” Maren managed. “Warning: I’m no elf this year. I don’t have to tell you that women are the ones who make holidays happen. Always.” The tea didn’t foster the same calm for Maren. “I’m not into it. Steve can put up his own big-darn, fat tree, make himself cookies and stuff his face.”
“That’s the spirit!” Liz laughed. “We make ’em, we take ’em.”
This scene is excerpted from my latest novel Second Chances: Book Two of The Maryland Shores. Just like the cookies these two plan to decorate, I’ve sprinkled many holiday hints and emotions throughout this women’s fiction series. In Letting Go: Book One, main character Maren has to assert that she’s going to church, having missed the start of Advent for—of all things—football on Sunday.
What do you do over the holidays?
Indeed, women really execute the season. Hours of list making and planning, decorating, shopping and wrapping, organizing, baking, cards, and cooking.
Those stamps don’t magically appear in the upper right hand corner of each year’s holiday greetings. The bulbs—the ones that actually light up—don’t glow upon first try. And, of course, the day you actually set aside time to bake this year’s goodies is the exact same day that Safeway is out of your must-have ingredient—the one you still forgot, even given the list you prepared.
Someone had to go to the post office, sometimes two or three stores for the proper size string of lights or the mandated flavoring, spice or appropriately festive container to display this year’s home-made delights. That someone—if you’re a woman—could be you.
Let me re-visit my initial question: There’s what do you do…and there’s what do you need over this holiday season. Ah, that’s more like it.
Amid caring for everyone else this year, trying to make a short budget stretch the distance, and squeezing 28 hours of tasks into a mere 24, remember to take time for you. Yes, for you. Only you. Most of all: You.
Breath in the crisp, outside air. Inhale the inside scents of pine or cinnamon.
Exercise should mean more than a power walk from one end of the mall to the other.
Gift lists aren’t merely to shop from, but to simplify the search for your gift. A treat for you, you may be tempted to question? Indeed.
And while the holiday classics make easy presents for the kids, don’t forget to be one of those little children this time of year. Yes, take at least one half-hour to re-kindle your own childhood memories of Frosty, Charlie Brown and his struggling tree, or Linus and his pageant, lest you become this year’s Grinch who stole the season’s spirit.
When that adult, pressed-for-time woman can merely collapse at the end of any given day, feast your eyes upon the preponderance of chick-flicks designed for your delight—whether you laugh at Tim Allen in The Santa Clause, worry about someone else’s child in Home Alone, take an extraordinary journey in The Polar Express, deal with crazy relatives that blessedly aren’t yours in Four Christmases, or pretend you’re Donna Reed in It’s A Wonderful Life—sit back, put your feet up, and relax. Even if you must wait until your children may be asleep or off with another parent, reserve a few moments.
Remember: Women do make a lot happen most any holiday season, and if you make even a fraction of that happen for yourself, you and your loved ones will be all the better for it. Be sure that in carefully crafting memories for them, you install a few meaningful ones for yourself!