posted on October 4, 2022 by Sheila Roberts

Getting to the Holidays

“Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,” went the old song. Merry, merry. No worries. The horse knows the way, the sleigh is heated. Grandma is perfect and nobody ever gets grumpy.

Not so in my world. The grandmas were all lovely and worth visiting. It did seem, however, that getting there could be a challenge. Or getting back home. Or getting ready. And I was often the one who was grumpy.

I remember a drive into the city for Christmas one year when our kids were small with my husband at the wheel and me putting the finishing touches on Christmas stockings I’d decided to make for my godparents. We hit a bump in the road and I stabbed myself with the needle. I didn’t say, “God bless us, everyone,” I can tell you that, right now.

Those stockings should have been done before we even hit the road. Why weren’t they? It wasn’t like I didn’t have advance warning since Christmas comes at the same time every year. But I still wasn’t ready because I had this nasty habit of biting off more than I could chew, of thinking I was Christmas Superwoman, able to leap piled up obligations and projects in a single bound.

Then there was the year we were leaving my brother’s house after a perfect Christmas Eve gathering and realized our car was stuck in second gear. Do you know how long it takes to drive twenty-five miles in second gear? I’ll tell you. About a million years. Our children were still little and happily clueless as we avoided the freeway and took back roads home. My husband tried to make a game out of the holiday disaster. “Look kids, a half-lit neon sign.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Grump sat in the front passenger seat, thinking of all the things she still had to do to help Santa and muttering, “Bah, humbug.” We got in around two a.m.

Every holiday cloud has a silver lining though. It was the only year our children ever slept late on Christmas morning.

Yes, it’s the getting to Christmas that often stresses us, whether we’re making a road trip with small children or someone who acts like a child or whether we’re trying to get through a long to-do list. I think it’s a given that making it to this special day takes some doing. We’re are busy, we all have budgets, we all have challenges.

So what to do? Well, here’s what I’ve learned. Plan ahead for the “journey” and as you get closer to the big day plan to slow down so you can savor the celebration.

I start my Christmas shopping with after-Christmas sales, when goodies like jewelry and winter clothes are on sale. I have picked up many a fine present for 50 % off. I buy throughout the year, picking up interesting goodies that catch my eye and that I think a family member or friend would like. That’s easier on my budget and, come December, I’m ready to go. (If I waited until November or December to do my Christmas shopping, there would be a lot of IOU’s given out.)

And I try not to do as much, limiting the number of labor intensive gifts I give and the baking I do. Time, like money, has a way of running out before I want it to.

As I get older I’m also realizing that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. If a car breaks down, oh, well. Look at that half-lit neon sign. If someone gets sick, that’s life. If that someone is me, there will some mourning because I live for the holidays and all the joy they entail, but oh, well. Time for FaceTime and a Hallmark movie. But the thing about plans not going perfectly is that it gives us an opportunity to be thankful for what is right, thankful for each other.

I can remember another non-perfect Christmas. Three out of five of us got stomach flu… on Christmas Day with the presents barely opened. Fa-la-la. Our son wound up taking care of all of us. (And yes, the kids were older, thank God.) We made it through, and many times we’ve looked back and laughed over that gross misadventure.

There are also Christmases where I’ve felt the loss of loved ones. Those have been hard, my family’s holiday meal salted with tears. But in spite of the tears we’ve reminded ourselves of the reason we’re celebrating in the first place. We sing “Joy to the World” and realize there’s still joy to be had. We sing of Angelic choirs and like to envision our family members getting to sing in such a choir. We go on and we carry on.

Those stupid, imperfect moments, those road trips where things slide sideways, those detours and plans that didn’t unfold beautifully, they get woven into the tapestry of our lives and come back as memories that may inspire us or make us laugh… or make us determined to do things differently in the future.

Like not trying to finish a sewing project in the car on Christmas Eve Day. I may not always “get there” with everything checked off my list, but I do want to “be there,” in the moment, appreciating the great gift of God’s love.

Wherever the holidays take you this year, I hope when you reach the end of the road you’ll be unpacking a smile along with those presents and cookies.

One reader who comments will be chosen at random to win a copy of THE ROAD TO CHRISTMAS.



Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. She's happily married and has three children. She's been writing since 1989, but she did lots of things before settling in to her writing career, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. Her band days are over, but she still enjoys writing songs. Sheila's books are best sellers and often appear as Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Her novel "Angel Lane" was named one of Amazon's top ten romances in 2009. Her novel "On Strike for Christmas" was a Lifetime Network movie and her novel "The Nine Lives of Christmas" is currently being made into a movie for Hallmark. When she's not speaking to women's groups or at conferences or hanging out with her girlfriends she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Sheila Roberts Contest

Sheila Roberts is giving away a box of Aplets and Cotlets, a special Washington treat to enjoy while you're reading her new release, THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB.

Enter Here

7 thoughts on “Getting to the Holidays”

  1. Amber Mancebo says:

    We usually have the visitors cause we have lots of snow but I also love exploring in our RV.
    Happy autumn 🍂

  2. Lisa Endicott says:

    Christmas Eve was very special growing up because my mom would plan a play or skit for all of the cousins to perform together. We practiced so hard learning a couple lines. All the parents and some neighbors and coworkers got to see our little Christmas plays and I was always so proud. My mom has passed which makes it even more special now as we have passed on the tradition to our grandchildren. Because we live far away now, we don’t do a skit, but each child brings his or her own talent. Be it a song, a little dance from a two year old, or one of the teens playing a piano piece. Adults even join in with silly songs and poems. So while the passing of mom was sad, she lives on with all of us at Christmas. Thanks for sharing your stories! And thanks for sharing your book.

  3. Karen says:

    I usually have a Christmas gathering the 1st or 2nd Saturday in December. About 50-60 invited. I cook a large ham, 2 deep fried turkeys, southern bacon green beans, buttered corn, mashed potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, with Hawaiian sweet rolls. Just make unsweetened tea, and blueberry lemonade kool-aid. It’s BROB, and a dessert to share. Men gather in the barn, women in the house. It’s a fun gathering. Used to do my Mom’s on Christmas Eve for corned beef sandwiches (Reubens) and homemade lemon pie, and Sanders Colonial cake. Miss my Mom. I make a ham dinner for Christmas.

  4. Kim N says:

    My dad’s side for Christmas is around 60. But we always get together the weekend before. A big turkey and ham all the fixings. Everyone makes their staple food. We do kids gifts and of course the adult gift pass fun but takes awhile. We have my mom’s small family over on Christmas day. Best of both worlds. My niece is 3 so she is just beginning to understand Christmas and loves it. Best time ever.

  5. Patricia hampton says:

    My family every year has to travel to extended family houses every year. We always made sure tho that Christmas Eve we were home for santa. When the kids were little they use to be in a Christmas program. Stay up late watching it’s a wonderful life while they went to sleep. Have to come up with some new ways now that they are getting older.

  6. Patty says:

    I cherish the memories of Christmas time growing up. Christmas Eve would be spent with my grandparents (Dad’s side). On the way there we’d stop to see the very large Manger scene at the local college run by Franciscans. On the drive home from seeing the grandparents and singing carols my sister, brother and I searched the skies for Santa and his sleigh, hoping we got home before him.
    Christmas morning we had to wait for mom & dad to start the coffee, let the pets out, and turn on the tree lights before charging down the stairs to open presents. Then off to grandparents (Mom’s side) for more gifts then go next door to great grandparents home. There we’d have Granddad Georgie’s spiked punch. He liked to add to it whenever Nanue wasn’t looking. Lol. Was so good. After all that everyone, on both sides of the family came to our house for dinner. Needless to say everyone was exhausted and slept well that night!

  7. bn100 says:

    eat Christmas dinner together

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest from our Blog

Make It Pink!

I’ve spent many years living in a male-dominated house. The only other female in my house is a little 3kg cat called Sally. So, until recently, the most pink in my house was when dear readers, friends and family gave me all sorts of pink goodies, which I love, related to Flamingos. My good friend… Read More

Read More