Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

The Grinch that I’ve Let Steal Christmas

on December 12, 2011

Let’s call him Finals Week, and he’s been cutting into my Christmas excitement and anticipation far too long.  Five years as an undergrad, 3 years of graduate school (full-time), and 4 years of teaching.  That’s a lot.

What did Christmas preparations look like in those years on my own without full-time study?  I picked out a live tree every year, usually in late November or early December.  My friends that had a truck would help me back to my apartment.  I would decorate the tree with the ornaments I had grown up with.  My tree would glow with soft, colored lights, white angel bell ornaments, felt and wooden treasures from my childhood, and a new snowflake-like star on top (attached to the tree with rubber bands and chopsticks).  I cannot count the nights I slept on the couch in the living room to fall asleep with this glow about me.  I decorated the apartment with garland draped from the kitchen cabinets with red bows cheerily making a contrast with the dark green, lights encircling the railing of my spiral staircase, my nativity set carefully arranged on my piano, and other decorations I had been given being placed around my home with happy thoughts of the people who had given me such treasures over the years.  Sometimes, I invited friends over to have soup and to help me with the decorating just to have some fellowship and to relive the memories of the “Hanging of the Greens” event we had at our church when I was growing up to prepare the sanctuary for Advent.

Usually, the first weekend in December (before dead week and finals), I invited my church (yes, everyone, but it was an amazing and small church of primarily college students, University Lutheran Chapel) to a Christmas party.  I provided the food and drinks, giving me a great chance (and motivation) to complete some holiday baking, try new recipes, and get in the spirit that I so enjoy.  One of the highlights of the party was always the white elephant gift exchange with a limit of $5.  My apartment was usually filled, sometimes with people coming that I had never met.  Those parties were filled with laughter and warmth!

Since I returned to school in 2005, I’ve felt like I’ve been held hostage a bit by the requirements of the end of the semester.  Final projects.  Final exams.  Late nights.  And, as a teacher, it’s seemed  worse with grading those final projects, writing and grading those final exams, and entering in final grades.  (As well as receiving the many e-mails from students concerned about their grades and looking for ways to recover from the choices they made throughout the semester.)  Grades are due less than a week before Christmas, and then with only a few days remaining to decorate, bake, and prepare gifts, I too often question if it’s worth the effort.  I don’t feel like I can really let myself enjoy the preparations for Christmas, and then I feel rather bitter and cheated about missing my favorite part – the anticipation.

But am I really any busier than I was when I was working 40 hours a week as an engineer, taking 1-2 classes part-time, and spending most of the rest of my time with friends?  I was gone several weekends in the fall to return to my alma mater for home football games and to visit friends.  Yes, I slept less in those days, and I was younger then, but as in my post from yesterday, I think the issue is priorities.

So, this week, I’ll work to finish up my work at school so I can enjoy things at home more.  I’ll try to decorate a bit each day, purchase the ingredients for my favorite holiday treats, and maybe invite a friend over to make peanut clusters or chocolate-covered pretzels with me.  I’ll listen to my favorite Christmas music while I grade.  I’ll dig out that peppermint candle.  I’ll work a little at a time to create that same environment that I remember from my days in Nebraska so I can throw an ongoing party for my family and create special memories for our toddler.  And, who knows, maybe I can pull together a small gathering of friends as well.


7 responses to “The Grinch that I’ve Let Steal Christmas

  1. Laurel.hill says:

    That almost inspired me to get in the holiday spirit

  2. Christie says:

    I read something that said November was for preparing for Christmas and December was for celebrating it! I used to feel like I shouldn’t do anything Christmasy until after Thanksgiving, but now I feel that if I’d prepared more earlier- I’d be enjoying more now! So that’s my plan for next year, Get lots of the prep done in Nov. and then relax and enjoy in Dec!

  3. Monica says:

    I’m loving your blog, Dana! 🙂
    I saw you after Graduation Saturday – and wondered if you’d done a happy dance or a sad one after the ceremony was over! 🙂

  4. […] dinner, I decided to bring appetizers to share.  Cheesy Mushroom Appetizers had been a hit at my Lincoln Christmas parties, and I thought I’d share them with my […]

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