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Christmas: It's the most stressful, socially awkward time of the year

Yup, I am one of those people. A real grinch, I dread the Christmas season. I haven’t always been this way. I remember as a kid being so excited I couldn’t sleep for a month in advance.

Yup, I am one of those people.

A real grinch, I dread the Christmas season.

I haven’t always been this way. I remember as a kid being so excited I couldn’t sleep for a month in advance.

Right after we trudged out to the far reaches of the farm to find the perfect tree and put our homemade decorations on it, the spirit would hit.

My three siblings and I would shake the gifts that were placed enticingly under the tree. When we got older, we would carefully lift the corners of the wrapping paper in an attempt to figure out the contents.

It gets worse. My brother once opened up his gift two weeks early, played with his Super Nintendo for a couple of hours, before rewrapping it.

The excitement of the gifts, tree, activities and goodies became overwhelming at times.

Visiting with my city cousins, sledding, snowmobiling, two weeks off of school - what wasn’t to love?

But not anymore.

The flurry of activity, going to Christmas concerts, parties and community events can be overwhelming when combined with my regular activities.

The pressure of festively decorating the outside of our home can be really irritating when coupled with our busy days and lack of light in the evening. Several years ago, I swear my husband and I almost got a divorce over whether we needed new icicle lights or not.

Inside, everyone wants a winter wonderland, but getting teenagers and an exhausted husband to help creates a less-than-merry mood.

And once the tree is decorated, pine needles are tracked all over the house, finding their way into my feet.

This year seems particularly trying for me and my giant list of things to do.

Wracking my brain to find the perfect gift for relatives I rarely see, planning what to cook on Christmas day and baking fattening goodies that I can’t even eat is not my idea of fun.

I do look forward to visiting with my siblings and enjoy watching my young nieces and nephews open their gifts.

But the boredom of sitting around in a crowded house, gorging on treats and baking, TV blaring, kids screaming can be anxiety-causing.

Planning and preparing food and cleaning up after them for the large crowd seems to be a never-ending cycle for us moms.

The guys sit around until the wee hours of the night playing strategy games while we struggle and cajole our kids to get some sleep.

Then there are the extended-family gatherings.

On my husband’s side, up to 60 people will gather together in some small bungalow, sitting elbow to elbow and awkwardly faking interest in the activities of one another’s kids.

“Wow, your kids have sure grown!” is the usual comment.

Then there is the annual Christmas exchange.

Although it is amusing to see my hubby’s much older aunts fighting over a gift, it can be disconcerting. Really, is it worth it to fight over that vanilla-scented bubble bath?

On my side of the family, my cousins are in the early child-rearing stage.

While I love babies, it can be stressful having five crawling around on the floor where preschoolers are dropping their new legos and jujubes.

And how about the awkward conversations with people you see once a year?

“Hey cousin’s’s the cousin?”

Or the uncle, who insists on catching me under the mistletoe with a wet kiss: Yuck!

And when all this is over, you get to go to a party where some random drunk guy you have never seen before tries to kiss you at midnight. Who brought him anyway?

All that being said, I still hope you have a happy holiday season full of warm memories.

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