Hey, Holiday Anxiety. I’ve grown accustomed to your sister, Everyday Anxiety. She’s pretty bad. But you are a life-ruiner, a magic-stealer, a joy-thief. I hate you.
The week before Thanksgiving, you make your grand entrance with worry, lumpy mashed potatoes, and sweaty fear. You are my constant, unwanted companion until you finally go home for the year—sometime around January 6—leaving behind nothing but pine needles and the remains of my self-esteem. Seriously, I hate you.
I wish people who have never met you could understand that you take no prisoners. You don’t know the meaning of words like grace or mercy. I wish they knew how it felt in the pit of my stomach, the physical ache that accompanies all of the times when I am positive I’m screwing everything up. For instance:
- “I’m sure my rolls will burn, and no one wants to eat Thanksgiving without dinner rolls. We might as well cancel the entire gathering. People won’t want to look at me anyway. I’ve gained weight and my messy mom bun looks less like a cute mom and more like a wreck.”
- “I forgot to move the Elf on the Shelf! Great. I’ve ruined the magic of Christmas. My kids are going to be devastated, and it’s my fault. They’ll know! They’ll find out about Santa because I forgot about the dang Elf, and they’ll never believe me, no matter what I try to make up.”
- “How will we visit both sides of the family for Christmas?! And, can my husband miss all those days of work? It’s so expensive to travel, but we miss everyone and want to see them. I’ll tell everyone not to get me anything. I don’t deserve a gift anyway.”
- “Will people show up on time? How early should I have things ready!? Oh, my house is a complete disaster. Everyone will wonder what I spend my time doing while I’m at home with the kids. I should’ve asked my sister to host. She has a nicer home and more space. People would have a better time there.”
I wish people could hear what plays on a loop in my brain, all thanks to Holiday Anxiety. It is relentless and ferocious and eviscerates my joy and confidence. Holiday Anxiety is like a shinier, fancier, more horrible version of the regular kind—less sleep, more worry, never-ending questioning, followed by a funk I can’t explain.
If you love someone who battles this holiday monster, take a breath and love her harder. She will likely resist. I know this brand of crazy eats at you more than most, but remember how much she needs you.
Hear me when I say that those who succumb to Holiday Anxiety need a hug. We need a meal. We need a coffee or a glass of wine. We need a girls’ night out. We need an excuse to leave the house. We need an opportunity to remember who we really are, under the gruesome mask of Holiday Anxiety.
Whatever you do, please don’t question us, refuse to acknowledge this as a real condition, or assume we are putting on some kind of a show for attention. I promise that people who are struggling would give their left arm to never feel like this again, to actually be able to enjoy the holidays. Sadly, that concept is foreign and fleeting for us.