The night before Thanksgiving this year, I was up until the wee hours of the morning, cleaning things that didn’t really need to be cleaned – like my Washing Machine. When I reached out on Facebook to see if any of my friends were similarly acting unhinged, I got this response “OMG – just cleaned my Washing Machine!” I was not the only one.

Snack Table in the Living Room
Snack Table in the Living Room

The holidays this year were remarkably non-stressful. We had friends up and we had planned a menu and knew the activities that we would all enjoy together. The shopping had been done, the foods and treats and snack table were organized. My kids had helped pick out the tablecloth and the pretty new bowl for M&M’s on the snack table, they had helped find a Nutcracker that would actually crack assorted nuts, and they were excited to help with the handy-dandy new hand vacuum for quick clean-ups between visits and our friends heading out to the hotel for sleep and back again. Everything went beautifully.

Ben's Apple Pie
Ben’s Apple Pie

Each of the kids helped with a dessert. Ben, who is nine, designed the top of the Apple Pie by doing online research and then sketching out how he wanted it to look. Then he helped roll out the dough, and cut out the design.

Bean, who is six, made the four-layer Carrot Cake mostly by himself. He shredded the carrots, measured and added all the ingredients, and used the mixer. He pretty much owned that thing. Scott, who in his younger years worked in bakeries, helped with the cutting of the two layers into four, and then putting on the icing all neat and nice. Bean and I would have smeared it mercilessly, I’m sure.

So, the desserts were made, the rest of the meal was planned. I’ve wondered about my late night craziness, and tried to figure out what that was all about.

Then I remembered that when I was younger, we could tell if my mom was stressed out, because she would do one of two things. She would either clean out a closet, or she would mop. She explained that both of those things help you get an immediate sense of order out of chaos. You can start with a disheveled mess and in just a few minutes get things cleaned to a level that makes you feel accomplished. From that place of mastery, you feel like you have your bearings, and you can handle whatever is coming your way.

It is not something I consciously thought – “I’m feeling stressed, better clean the laundry room.” But with the example my mother gave me, of doing something productive when things are starting to feel like they are either out of control or unraveling, and having that help her steady herself, I did it without thinking. I was nervous about having guests and being the one pretty much In Charge of Thanksgiving – the holiday that ranks as Favorite in our family. So I cleaned something, that made me feel good, even if it wasn’t something anyone else would notice, or inspect or really care about. In the back of my mind, I knew I’d done it, and it was a big task, and it ended up making me feel like every corner of my house was ready and presentable.

If I can remember, the next time I’m feeling crazy coming on, I have closets and miscellaneous junk drawers that can get once-overs and keep me stress-free for a while.

Did Nutty come into your Holiday Prep this year? Do Tell!

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