Where is your Stress Coming From?

I finally got those Christmas cards out last week.

As in yesterday. Saturday.

I suspect some of my recipients won’t get theirs until after the holiday. At first, this bothered me, but then I remembered that I always get a few after Christmas each year, and I really don’t think much about it, so no big deal.

2009's Christmas Card - my favorite!

2009’s Christmas Card – my favorite!

Christmas cards are one of those things that it turned out I stressed about more than I needed to. I used to design mine myself, did up some really cool ones in years past. But this year, none of us had any cool pictures taken (my family is not a big photo-taking bunch) so I couldn’t think of anything cool to do with them, nor did I have any special photos to use on a Shutterfly card (which I’ve also done in the past). So I kept putting it off, hoping something would come to me.

Nothing did. Finally, early this week I threw something together with a picture of our dogs that we’d used before. I wasn’t thrilled with it, so I printed one out and set it aside.

By Wednesday, I knew I had to do something. I’d also realized that I wasn’t quite done with shopping, and I mentioned to DH that I was feeling really stressed. Awesome guy that he is, he asked what he could do. I told him to make moonshine (not real moonshine, just store-bought stuff with flavoring added, but very good), which I’d promised to some of my coworkers. He then took a big load off. He said the Christmas card I’d printed out was fine, so why not send them out.

You see, he was the one who’d always made a big deal of the designed cards, and had been disappointed the year I used Shutterfly. So that was a lot.

I printed them out. Then realized I only had eight envelopes for 8-1/2 x 11 paper folded in quarters. Not a size I can just run down to the corner drugstore to buy. ::headdesk::

So I took off work a couple hours early on Friday, bought a box of cards, and sent those out, along with eight of the homemade cards.

But it all makes me wonder, how much of our stress comes from our own expectations of ourselves? How many of us put a ridiculous effort into extensive decorating, fixing the perfect holiday dinner, buying the perfect gifts–when those they’re supposed to be for don’t expect it, and are just happy we’ve done whatever it is for them?

ROW80Logo175Which brings me around to the rest of my ROW80 goals. I certainly expected too much of myself, thinking I’d get any writing done with everything else that needed to be done. Here’s the details:

  • 2,500 words on combined WIPs – No
  • Keep up with writing workshop assignments – Done (and the workshop is done)!
  • Website: figure out custom programming needed on product page – No
  • Fitness 4 times – Done!
  • Get Christmas cards out, complete rest of shopping – Done!

I figure I did well to get done what I did. This week will be better. I still have to wrap gifts, am hosting dinner, and my house is a disaster, but I have help if I need it, i.e. DD is home from college. I need to put in a few hours at work tomorrow, but am otherwise taking off until after New Year’s–my yearly present to myself. 😀 I think this Round officially ends on Christmas, but my goals are weekly, and I plan to work on the non-holiday goals Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so here goes:

  • Wrap Christmas presents, and finish everything else needed for the holiday
  • 2,500 words on combined WIPs
  • Website: figure out custom programming needed on product page

What about you–do you expect more of yourself than others, once you think about it (or ask)? If you celebrate Christmas, are you ready for it? And if you’re doing ROW80, did/are you hitting your goals? Please share–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

8 Responses to \

  1. I used to expect more of myself. And yes, it attributed to stress. Now I ask myself, “If I don’t do it, would anyone care?” If the answer is “I would care,” then I’ll do it. Otherwise, why bother? Maybe that’s a bad attitude, but I gotta take care of myself. No one wants to be around me when I’m grouchy!

    I’m almost ready for Christmas. I’ve got all the presents, just got to wrap them. Then I remembered I’m fixing dinner on Christmas Eve. Now I have to go shopping for food – oops! At least I’m making it EASY on myself. I can fix the lasagna ahead of time and stick it in the oven when I’m ready to cook it! I’m all about the easy! Haha! 😀

  2. You are so right about stress. I think most of us heap it upon ourselves. I am so guilty of that.

    I used to stress about having the perfect Christmas feast, but since my husband started bartending, he’s had to work the past few Christmases. That added more stress; what to fix in a hurry so we could have something together before he leaves?

    This year, he works Christmas Eve until midnight and then has to go back at 2:00 on Christmas Day. Whats a girl to do? No meal on Christmas Eve (except for little ole me) and not enough time to cook a turkey or roast or anything in the morning. So this year, we’re having a Christmas brunch. I’m going to fix everything the night before (since I’ll be home alone on Christmas Eve anyway) and then just pop it in the oven and/or crock pot in the morning while we see what Santa brought. Hopefully it will be good. At least we’ll be together for a few hours. No stress right? (yeah right)

    Whatever you decide, make the most of it. Like the cards – I’m sure most folks are just delighted to receive a paper card in a paper envelope that comes via the US Postal Service.

    Merry Christmas!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. Yup, Jennette, I’m with you there completely on expecting too much of myself during the holiday season! I always underestimate how much work it’s going to be. Oh well, at least it’s worth it, especially when the girls get all excited about their presents. 🙂

  4. I love that 2009 card!

    Add me to the list of people who put too much pressure on themselves. What’s even more annoying is that it’ll come in fits and starts and often focuses on things that are NOT that important. Grrr…

    Oddly enough, AROW80 has helped a lot; even if I don’t make a goal, I can always reevaluate the goal and take another stab at it. Very, very helpful!

    I’m ready for Christmas and what I haven’t gotten done for it can be done later, thankfully.

    Merry Christmas!

  5. Raising my hand here. I create my own holiday stress with uber decorating an Martha Stewart ecpectations. Slowing it down a bit as I age. The feet and knees won’t take marathon decorating. Have a Merry Christmas! Love the Christmas card BTW.

  6. I kind of do a rolling holiday card mailing. Some get mailed early, others turn into happy new year cards. 🙂
    I hope you and yours had an awesome Christmas and that your new year is full of joy, peace, and success!

  7. My husband and I had so many responsibilities and things to remember as we prepared for our Christmas Eve dinner party, and then for our escape to a North Carolina vacation that we only sent Xmas cards to his elderly aunts and uncles.

    Now that the holidays are over, we’ll take the time to send greetings to the rest of the folks on our list. I’m so glad we had the foresight to take something off our plates (besides all the food we ate!) this holiday season.

    A warm happy 2014 greeting to you and your readers, Jennette!