‘Twas the month before Christmas, and all through my life,
Everything was in panic, I was turning manic.
Christmas has always been a tough time of year. As a kid I remember the tension between my dad and my mothers’ side of the family, followed by the arguments once we began to spend some time with his side of the family as well. Once we moved to Canada there was an adjustment period as we all became used to just the four of us together. Christmas became less about tradition as it had been in England and more about a dinner and gifts. As time went by and I began to work, Christmas became more about a school break, time to work to earn money, and a day off from both, that along with gifts, a dinner, and plenty of chocolate!
As an adult, working full time, as a manager, the one in charge, it meant a day off. I worked Christmas Eve and Boxing day from the time I was sixteen until last year, my first Christmas off. In the retail business and the manager of operations, Boxing Day was my baby. I began the prep work mid-August, my October my stress levels were already maxing out, I would begin replacing my blood with coffee and air with cigarettes. By December 1st, sleep would max out at around 4 hours a night, too stressed to stay asleep, I would shake from morning to night from over-caffeinating and the rush of nicotine (amongst other things). It would remain this way until early January as there was a lot of clean up and recovery to deal with.
It was hard work, but I lived on the adrenaline. It was a rush and it distracted me. I was driven to better the previous year, the manic perfectionist I am was let loose to play and I ran wild.
Last Christmas was my first one where I was not required to work. I spent time with friends, went home to see my family, shopped, and took it easy. I had two weeks off, went skiing, spent time with Jason, relaxed and caught up on sleep.
This year I’m noticing a familiar pattern. Two weeks ago I ran over my schedule to try and squeeze in a make up shift for work and very quickly felt a rise of panic. My weekends were full, in some cases I had two things planned on one day. I pulled out the two calendars I have to compare them and ensure that each was accurate by appointment, schedule, down to the tasks needing to be accomplished. I fired off a few emails to validate my available spots and then proceeded to fill them with volunteering at the church. Between work and current commitments I found myself unavailable for several Christmas gatherings that I was invited to and part of me is quite relieved.
I like being busy. It distracts me from everything else. I know this about myself and after some time of not filling my life with as much distraction as I can fit in, I’m back to old habits, with one minor exception. I now am a student.
Throughout my school life as a child it was easy to get the good grade. I was usually close to the top of the class until I got into high school and became interested in other things. University was a failure and while I refuse to regret any of my past, I don’t like remembering the grades received during that period of my life. This feels like a second chance. I’m loving the learning, soaking it up like a sponge. There are two classes I am taking at the moment and while one I have another three months to finish, the other is semester based and wrapping up right away. I have a large paper due on Tuesday and after the events of today am completely unable to focus. There is a large amount of reading due right after the essay and one more discussion to participate in, all within the next week.
I’m starting to drown. I’m overwhelmed, over my head, busy to the point of no time to sleep and obsessing about all the little things, yet this feels good. I’m booked solid from now until December 28th and even then I am hoping to plan a skiing trip if Jason is available the same day. For the first time in a year there’s stress pushing me to keep going and I find that I’m enjoying the rush.
What is it about Christmas that I can’t allow myself to relax? Am I programmed to be stressed at this time of year and I can’t let it go or is it that the adrenaline from stress keeps me going?