Yes, I have to finish two first-pass edits in the next ten days, which is why my stress level is a little high. And that’s probably why I found this column in Time magazine so hilarious: “Home for the Holidays,” by Kristin van Ogtrop, who is the managing editor of Real Simple magazine.
Do you find yourself walking around in December muttering to no one in particular, “Why are the holidays so stressful?!?” I used to do that, until two things happened. One, I matured enough to know that my holiday stress is actually faux (i.e., mostly self-imposed), and two, my oldest child went to college, and a piece of my heart went with him. And then the holidays became spectacular and perfect, because it meant my son came home and my heart was whole again.
She goes on to describe a scene with which I was intimately familiar:
I gain a few things–besides a mended heart–when my son comes home from college. Overnight my house is filled with stuff. It’s like a miracle, except it’s horrible, which makes it an un-miracle. You see, my cherished child leaves a trail of belongings wherever he goes: shoes in doorways, coat on living-room chairs, keys on stairs, wallet on kitchen counter, iPhone on kitchen table, sweatshirt on bannister. It’s “Hansel and Gretel,” the teenage-boy version. Except no one is starving (see faux stress) and I am the witch. Because while I intend to focus on my full heart and the sheer joy of my son, I really just want to burn all his detritus in a big oven in my gingerbread cottage in the woods.
Oh, that boy detritus! I always thought it was a failing on my part. Had I not made it clear enough that neatness was next to godliness? Those cleanliness advocates have got it all wrong. Please—just pick up your stuff!
The good news is college boys turn into young adults and, eventually, they take control of the detritus. I can say that for sure because today, 10 December, is my son’s thirty-first birthday—and he has been a perfectly delightful houseguest for years now. 🙂 Happy birthday, honey!
Read the article—it will make you laugh. And I hope the next couple weeks are as stress-free as possible. It’s up to you. 🙂