I am a lover of Christmas. There is giddy anticipation in my belly every September (er, August?) when Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin spiced lattes. Because PSLs mean fall, fall means Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving means Christmas! I’ve barely digested my pumpkin pie before I’m hauling my Rubbermaids from the attic and tossing tinsel in every corner. Christmas albums, garland, red Starbucks cups, Salvation Army Bell Ringers – I love everything about the season.

So every year, why am I so glad to box it up when it’s all over? Every year I swear to not get lost in the season. “This is the year I won’t be overwhelmed,” I declare. I pledge to plan in advance, shop early, and decorate quickly so that I can savor my faith and time with family, and do Hallmark-ish things like donning plaid while I read by the fire and decorate sugar cookies in a spotless kitchen. That’s what you all do, right?

Instead, I find myself standing in the back of the church peeking to see the last 15 minutes of my kid’s Christmas pageant after racing across town from work. Mailing Christmas cards on December 23rd. Baking warped sugar cookies in a toaster oven. Praying to the Amazon gods for my Prime shipment to not fail me now. Swarmed with guilt when I receive a baked good from a friend, with nothing to offer in return. More guilt when I realize I only made it three days into my Christmas devotional, and six days into my daughter’s advent project.

This year seems worse than ever, my holiday hangover. Maybe it’s the two kids? Maybe it’s the two families in two far away states? Maybe it’s the fact my oven has been broken for a month? Last year, I swore off Christmas Day traveling as I was sitting in the Atlanta airport eating a hot dog. So this year, I thought the cure would be proudly reclaiming my Christmas– going to my church on Christmas Eve, waking up in my house on Christmas morning, and not going anywhere. And that happened and it was divine. But a multi-city tour of the lower US still followed and I ended up right where I was last year.

Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Disorganized. Pudgy.

I just can’t seem to get it right and I hate the feeling of relief I get when it’s all over. When the first week of January rolled around, I hauled those Rubbermaids back out with relief and an eagerness to “get back to normal” (whatever that is). What goes wrong every year? What am I doing wrong?

 This is no how-to article, no quick tips, that’s a real question! How do you do it, moms? Is it possible to be a mom, and attend the parties and plays and shop and cook and still partake in a little bit of that wonder? Still reflect on the miracle of Christmas? Savor the magic with your kids without fighting exhaustion? Teach me your ways, gimme all your wisdom!

This year, I have a fancy new planner, full of tabs and pretty stickers and highlighters. Places for lists and pockets for – things that go in a planner? So I’m giving it the ole’ college try. This year – this is the year I will be more organized, and less overwhelmed!

By next Christmas, I’m going to show that chaos who’s boss. Hope springs eternal!

Kathryn Grassmeyer

Kathryn is a southern transplant, working and living in Northern Virginia with her husband Tyler and daughter Charlotte. She is soaking up life as a family of three before baby #2 arrives this summer. When she’s not blowing noses or failing at potty training, she works as a pediatric physical therapist. Blog: http://www.barefootdaydreams.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BarefootDaydreamsBlog Twitter: https://twitter.com/kategrassmeyer