Megan on the Move: Over the holidays, know when to walk away

Once I was asked to speak to a women's group about how a busy working mom survives the holidays. I laughed. Why were they asking me? I don't survive them.

What I do is more like ignore them.

Nothing gives me hives quicker than a passing thought of Nov. 1, no matter what month it is. I can be sunning myself by the pool in July, and someone will mention November and I burst into tears.

Holiday season terrifies me.

I don't hate it. In fact, I quite love it, and that is why it is so terrifying. I would like, as Brene Brown so eloquently puts it, to be one of those mothers that "Do everything while looking perfect." But that is not me. Is that anyone, really?

I am not the woman who decorates every square inch of her house in tasteful items made out of recycled cereal boxes. I am not the woman who bakes 100 kinds of cookies and delivers them to her neighbors in festively wrapped mason jars with custom labels. I do my shopping 100 percent online, usually with only days to spare before Christmas.

And this is why I'm terrified. Even pulling off the bare-bones holidays that I do, I become exhausted. Even TALKING about holidays makes me want to cry.

I love seeing family and I love festive occasions more than your average person, but figuring out who is going where when, who is bringing what, and what car we'll be riding in is my own personal hell. I am itching all over right now just thinking about it.

Once it's upon me, I'm delighted. When the trees are up and the lights are on and the stockings are hung, I'm happy. All of those things take me precisely one hour to accomplish. More than that and I imagine the taking down of Christmas and again I begin to contemplate drinking Drano.

So what did I tell the women who so graciously invited me to visit with them about my holiday hints? "Pick one thing," I said. We can't be good at all the things, so just pick one.

I happen to like cooking, so I make kind of a big deal about a holiday meal. I don't spend hours meticulously wrapping presents, because I'm not good at it. I don't spend time creating crafty decorations because I can't be trusted with a glue gun and don't have the first clue how to thread a needle. AND IT IS OK.

My family has a lovely, cozy holiday anyway. I have happy memories and more in the make, and never once have I posed a plastic elf in the middle of a pile of flour. So families of the world, take heed: IT WILL BE OK. Just do the one thing you love to do and do well, and the rest? Walk away.

Oh and one other thing: instead of traditional gifts, give experiences. Buy tickets instead of toys. They're a lot easier to wrap.

— Megan Stuke is a wife and a mother of Johnny (5) and Lily (1). By day she works to help children and families at Ballard Community Services, and by night she writes, cooks, cleans (very little) and tries her best to be part of everything Lawrence has to offer.


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