Thoughts at the End of a Long Day

Soooo tired. So tired.

Those are my first two thoughts.

Here’s the deal: I don’t even have a Christmas tree up! So today I spent many many hours running around like Crazy Lady marking things off a to-do list so expansive it would make your head spin. Or possibly you might confuse my list for your own?

The only nice thing about feeling like I’m going a tad crazy is I know I’m not alone. Tis the season. (Please read my previous post/column about not getting sucked into the frenzy, just so I don’t have to rehash those sentiments here). But bottom line: today was a long day, I used many of my free hours (all of them) doing my shopping which I only started two days ago. Also: tree. Still not up (since the previous paragraph).

So it still doesn’t feel like Christmas here. That’s okay. It will. But it just didn’t work out with our schedule to go get our tree just yet. We have a very set tradition of going out to the country to get our tree and each year I sort of toy with the idea of not making the drive and my dear sweet husband reminds me that this is the place that drills the hole in the bottom of our tree so all we have to do when we get home is plop the tree on our stand and snip the netting. Voila! Perfection! No more days of the boys saying things like “mommy? What’s dammit?” “WHERE DID YOU HEAR THAT WORD?” “That’s the thing Daddy says when he’s putting up the tree…” (full disclosure: the true story is that was the word Ethan learned when daddy was building the swing set, lo those many years ago.)

Switching gears. Can we talk for a minute about food? Because I have a real issue with it.

So maybe today was a day when me, the NON-Foodie, if ever there was one, should not have embarked on making a roast chicken. But I did, because I had a chicken in the fridge and everyone knows roast chicken is super easy to make. Except I was exhausted from running around town for many hours in a row today (sans kids, which meant I was like a monkey on speed. MUST GET ERRANDS RUN!). And then I came home, with my van full of exhausted children, and I was tired and they were tired and I made dinner and then dinner was just exhausting.

Will we ever have a point at which dinner isn’t exhausting? You think?

True, we are coming off of sick days. I’ve had at least one child home from school sick every day this week (today was obviously the oldest, as I left him home to R+R alone for a bit).

But anyway, I LABORED over this chicken which I totally did not but I’m such a martyr when it comes to food that I’m ashamed to admit that when I cook I just expect the world to stop revolving and rotating and could we all just bend a knee in gratitude at this delicious roast chicken fer cryin’ out loud. Also, why were you so much more gracious last night when I made mac and cheese and then headed out on a hot date with your daddy? Huh? Why?

Because, sad to admit, I could make mac and cheese every night for a month and no one would ever complain. Throw in taco night here and there and I’m Mother of the Year. But crack open a binder of Barefoot Contessa and everyone heaves a sigh and tries so hard to just endure.

So anyway, those are my thoughts that I’m so graciously sharing with you. It’s complicated. Do you feel like Dr. Kroger reading all that? I bet you want to bill me for your time. You’re the best. Thanks for listening.


  1. Why not wait until Advent is over before putting up the tree? Relax. Enter into the time of waiting and preparation. Be at peace. The tree can wait. you have most of January to enjoy your tree. The Pope keeps his tree up until the feast of the Presentation, Feb.2, so what’s the rush?

  2. Tree? What is that mystery thing? (And to be honest, we just have to dig the darn thing out of the basement!)

    My house is a disaster. I have to teach 7th grade catechism tomorrow – yeah, not ready. Plus, I have a bunch of cooking and baking to do this weekend. And I love to cook, and I’m dreading it. I’ll cook for you and the hoard of boys – and you can organize my house! (Pretty please!) We have our annual cookie decorating party next Saturday, and I finally made my first batch of anything last night. Good thing these people are friends, so I don’t feel AS GUILTY about the “flight of the bumblebee” clean that we are going to end up doing. Except that usually involves shoving everything in to the guest room, but we can’t, because we are actually going to have guests using the guest room – ack – where else do you throw things.

    So, I’m feeling your pain, but trying to use my time to say “Yes” to God this Advent. Making cookies for the fathers at the friary this weekend – 13 older gentleman, and I want that to be special. Finishing some homemade gifts. Trying to give of myself, versus of my pocketbook – it is so much more rewarding. Got the gifts for the Giving Tree at church, which my kids picked out. Have the small gifts for my catechism class.

  3. I’m sure you’re probably freaking out about the tree because of your own family’s traditions for when the tree goes up and I empathize. But just look at it from a perspective of “it doesn’t have to feel like Christmas because it’s Advent and we’re going to live that liturgical season a little more intensely this year” and viola! you have a legit, stress-free reason for not having your act together. 😉

    There’s lots of Catholics who don’t have their trees up yet – join us – come to the dark side! (dark as in there’s not twinkling Christmas lights all over the place.)

  4. ah yes…my boys think I’m the best cook ever…when I make mac n cheese FROM THE BOX!!! Seriously, one time my son asked me how I ever get the cheese so nice and orange! Throw in some cut up hot dogs in that mess of chemicals, and they pretty much think I’m a saint.

  5. Some day you’ll look back from a position of wisdom and serenity while your children struggle in the same ways you did once so long ago. And while you’ll vaguely remember how difficult some of those times were, you will watch them with a twinge of envy and nostalgia. Time passes. Oh how trite, but true. It’s gone in a heartbeat. The next thing you know you’re sitting with your husband over coffee (as I did just a few hours ago) and realizing you’ve entered a new phase (or “season” as you like to call it). The baton is passing to each of them, one at a time. My advice, if you’re asking, is to freeze the moments in your memory as much as possible while offering them up with praise and thanksgiving for the sheer beauty of life lived to the fullest. It’s all good.

  6. I feel your pain! My two best friends that are invaluable to help with dinner on busy days: crock pot and rice cooker!! Just throw it all in the crock pot (even frozen!!) and by 6:00 pm it will be ready. Do the rice cooker at the last minute too. May you be blessed this busy Advent season knowing that all you do is a labor of love – xoxox

  7. I just so appreciate these posts! Thanks for keeping it real, there is far too little of it in blog land. The meal thing especially, hysterical. Blessings to your family!

  8. Yesterday I spent some time on a beautiful blog about home organizing, full of perfect pictures of serene pantries, craft rooms and nurseries. And I felt AWFUL afterward. Today I read your blog. Your blog always makes me feel good.

    I almost lost it recently when a good friend asked for photos of my Christmas decorations. Because while some of them are up, you can’t really see them for the mess and piles of supplies for the rest of the decorations-in-progress. Thanks for reminding me that this is relatively normal.

  9. Well, I appreciate my wife more than ever after this post! Thanks.

  10. Rachel, I couldn’t agree more. Dinner is a major event at our house almost every night as well. One night last week, my husband looked at my and said, “Can we just skip dinner?”

    The prep, process, getting everyone to the table, and cleanup fill up the night! Peace to you for sacrificing for them!

  11. Same boat over here with getting ready for Christmas. And I keep trying to explain to my food-cretins that we cannot live in mac and cheese, pizza and burgers. They refuse to believe it.

  12. Michelle Ross says:

    I agree with the other ladies re: Advent. I have not even begun to decorate yet. We did celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day yesterday and the children loved that. Relax as much as you can–you are surrounded by loving family and prayers from all of us in the internet world, as well as a God who loves you more than all of us put together!

  13. thanks soo much for this ..I have been feeling major stress all week as the to do list of holiday things that need to be done gets longer and the days till the holidays get less and less….I have come to the conclusion that even if I had started shopping in September I would still be stressed because then I would take on more stuff to do thinking I have the time no matter how you slice it this is a beautiful time of the year ..but also ..busy , crazy and stressful too .. so I appreciate your thoughts ..makes me feel like im not the only one feeling the pressure get it all done ..I love your meal post soo true ..I do crockpot cooking is a family favorite ..take boned chix..or boneless chix ..throw it in the crockpot with barbecue sauce ,,cook it when it is done shred it ..put it back in the crockpot and there u go shredded barbecue sandwhiches ..if u use boned chix just be very careful of the bones ..thanks again for such a great post

  14. We wait until Christmas Eve to put up our Christmas tree and will take it down with the Pope on the Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas). The Church gives us Advent to prepare for God in our lives. If we miss that, well, what’s the point of Christmas then?

    I’ve spent the greater portion of my adult life separating the two “Christmases”–American Christmas and Christian Christmas. I’ve found I have less and less room for American Christmas (parties, gifts, decorations, cards, etc) to make room for God’s gift–Himself!! I think we have a lot more joy in our family the more we keep Advent (which is really a penitential season–called a “Little Lent”).