Am I the only one whose mind is working in constant addendum mode during this season of the year? You know what I mean by “addendum mode,” don’t you? It’s that state of mind in which your brain adds to each statement you hear or idea you read about.
Over the past weeks there have been many good Christmas-related opportunities, but it seems that each one holds extra responsibility for the mother. So when I hear about a great activity that is being scheduled, my mind adds the corresponding extra responsibility. The mental conversation goes something like this:
- Caroling party with a potluck. (Okay, I need to figure out another meal that can sit in the crockpot, but be sure to factor in the extra cooking time it will get when we’re out caroling. How long will we be gone? What time in the afternoon will I need to put the ingredients in? Do I have anything else scheduled during that afternoon that might need to be shuffled around? Maybe soup will work best. Be sure it’s gluten-free and dairy-free so there will be at least one thing there that the kids can eat. What will the weather be like? Do I need to make sure the kids have hats and mittens?)
- Concert. (What’s the starting time? I might need to move up supper to make sure we leave in time to get a parking place and a good seat. I wonder how long it will last. What’s scheduled for schoolwork the next day? I might need to make adjustments to accommodate sleepy brains.)
- Holiday meal at our house. (Who all is coming? How much food will we need? What are we going to eat? Others might bring some dishes. Let’s see, which ones could they bring? I wonder how much this will cost. Better check the grocery budget.)
Well did Charlotte Mason recognize the strain that this season can bring when she explained, “There is a shade of anxiety in the mother’s face as she plans for the holidays. The brunt of domestic difficulties falls, necessarily, upon her” (Vol. 5, p. 109).
But in typical Charlotte fashion, she went on to give a suggestion that can restore balance and refresh our spirits so we can once again see the delightful aspects of the holidays. She urged mothers to try to arrange for some quiet time of “rest for body and mind, and for such spiritual refreshment as may be, to prepare them for the exhausting (however delightful) strain of the holidays” (Vol. 5, p. 110).
Now before you brush off her suggestion, citing the excuse that you don’t have time to rest, let’s remind ourselves that we make time for those things that are important. This is important. We all know that awful feeling of “I’m a bad mommy” when the stress builds and we find ourselves short on temper and long on criticism with our family. If there is a way to prevent that from happening, I want to grab it with both hands.
Ideas for Holiday Rest and Refreshment
So here is a beginning list of ideas to help us stop for a few moments, recharge our batteries, and remember the delights of the season.
- Eat supper by candlelight with Christmas music playing.
- Practice saying, “Thank you, I won’t be able to this year.”
- Select a special family read-aloud to enjoy together and choose the best place and time of day to read it—whether at the table after lunch, in the living room during the evenings, sitting in the hallway between bedrooms during naps, or gathered on the sofa before bed.
- Listen to Handel’s Messiah one evening after the kids are in bed. Use headphones.
- Turn off the cell phones and gather them into a basket out of reach. Pop popcorn and watch a favorite Christmas movie together.
- Download these old Nativity hymns by John Wesley. Take ten minutes each day to read one and meditate on any descriptions that jump out at you, like these from Hymn VI: “Those infant hands, Shall burst our bands, And work out our salvation.”
Now you finish the list. What have you found to refresh you—body, mind, and spirit—during the holidays? How have you tweaked things to secure some much-needed rest? Share your ideas and let’s help each other once again focus on the delightful part of the holidays, rather than the exhausting part.