It's Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas.

In case you missed it (and I don’t know how you could, considering the commercials started in August), it’s the holiday season again. Which has me feeling…conflicted.

Part of me loves the holidays – everything about them. Decorating the house, putting up the Christmas tree, baking all those cookies – it all makes me want to jump up and down and clap my hands like a little kid. Once the time changes and the night gets long and dark, I start pestering my  husband to put the lights up outside –  those twinkling, colored lights make my heart sing.

I even love Christmas shopping. At the mall. Yes, really. My mom and I  used to make an event of it – the day after Thanksgiving was Serious Shopping Day, and we’d spend hours combing the mall for the best deals on the softest, shiniest, glittery-est presents to stuff under the tree.

Now that I’m seven hours away, I kinda miss that.

There’s also a part of me that dreads the holidays. I feel guilty admitting that, but it’s true. Especially since we moved away and our trip home became an Event. There’s always so much pressure. Everybody wants a piece of us (usually at the same time), and there’s absolutely no way to make everyone happy.

Someone always ends up disappointed. Sometimes lots of someones.

And I? Spend the week with knotted up shoulders, a tension  headache and a sour stomach. Because, you see, I really want to make everyone happy. Especially during the holiday season. But I haven’t figured out how to clone myself, so it’s impossible.

Plus, I’m not naturally a very social person, so all that visiting starts to get to me after a while. I start longing for a quiet corner to hide in, or at least a bag I could put over my head.

By the time we head for home, I’m usually so exhausted that I spend the next three days sleeping.

But this year is different. This year there’s Tori. She’s not old enough to really appreciate all the hubbub around the holidays, but I’m looking forward to sharing it with her anyway.

I can’t wait to put up the tree, so I can watch her face shine when she sees it glowing  for the first time. I want to buy her a stocking, and let her get her hands in the cookie dough (don’t worry, I know she can’t eat it yet).

I want to dress her up in pretty, absolutely useless frilly dresses. Take her to visit Santa. I even want to get one of those cheesy family portraits done (we may even wear matching clothes).

I want her to join in the chaos when her cousins rip into the Christmas presents under the tree. I want to see her face when she tastes turkey and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie for the first time.

Above all, I want to share the joy of her first Christmas with everyone I love. Even if it kills me.

So, I’m going to try to leave my inner pessimist home this year. I’m going to do my best to get through it all with my smile intact and my shoulders loose. I’m going to try to enjoy myself.

Because you know what’s really great about having a baby at Christmastime? It gives you an automatic excuse (lots of excuses) to get out of doing anything you don’t want to do. After all, she has to eat, sleep, get her diaper changed…

I may actually get some quiet time this year.

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