Is it the tryptophan in turkey that leads to holiday exhaustion? It certainly couldn’t be the reason I tend to feel tired until New Year’s. Stay awake until midnight on purpose? You’ve got to be kidding.
Maybe it’s estrogen-related because most women I know experience the same seasonal symptoms.
At 8:01 AM, my home phone rings. It’s usually my cell or an email demanding my attention. Who even knows my home number, I wonder as I answer, hoping that I don’t have to pick up a sick kid from school. Today I was planning to stare into space for as long as possible.
“Something is wrong,” my friend Rachel says in a grave tone. “I think I have cancer.”
I feel panic as I picture my beautiful, vibrant friend and her four young children.
“Rob took the kids to school,” she says. “I literally can’t get out of the bed. Every part of my body hurts.”
“What did the doctor say?” I ask, as my dog Holly begins to bark. Should I organize meal deliveries, pick up her kids after school? I yell at the dog.
“I haven’t had a chance to go to the doctor yet,” Rachel says. “They were closed for Thanksgiving. Besides, this weekend I cooked for sixteen, finished all my holiday shopping and started decorating for the holidays.” Suddenly I felt relieved.
“But I listed all of my symptoms on Web MD and it looks fatal,” she says.
“I don’t think you have cancer,” I say. “You’re exhausted.” Me, a housewife lacking any type of medical degree, in Eastern medicine, holistic or otherwise, called in the necessary prescription – sleep. Seriously, I think that bears have it right. “Wake up in the spring,” I say.
There are certain physical symptoms of the holidays exhibited in most under-medicated moms. Here are just a few:
Exhaustion – The first physical sign in the western part of the United States. We may not have snow in Los Angeles but we do have plenty of sleep clinics.
Nervousness – did you buy a gift for everyone on your list? If you want to ensure your children’s well-being, then don’t forget the bus driver, the crossing guard or the lunch lady. It may sound overboard but that’s what the holidays are all about, aren’t they? Failure to buy them a gift may be hazardous to your child’s health. But no pressure.
Swollen Abdomen – It would be considered rude not to finish your mother in law’s turkey dinner. It would also be rude not to taste everyone’s dessert. And to get through all of this, alcohol becomes a must. A swollen abdomen is completely normal after one month of over indulgence.
Agitation – Do I really have to sell more candy/wrapping paper for the school fundraiser? I already have a cabinet full from last year! Is my friend really running to the gym? I can’t even make it to the laundry room! If you find yourself ready to snap at friends, family and strangers then be assured you’ve caught the holiday spirit.
Restlessness/Headaches – in most cases you will experience these at any of your children’s winter concerts. Symptoms will mysteriously subside when your own child is on stage. The rest of the performances will be seemingly unbearable. Please remember to wash your hands after such mandatory attendances and whatever you do don’t spread the virus on Facebook!
Don’t worry. Most often the holidays aren’t fatal. You’ll be lucky to experience extreme mood swings. It’s part of the fun. Besides, the smile on your child’s face will leave you delighted and you’ll do it all again next year. Perhaps, if you are among the luckiest of our Generation X then you have a rare, functional family, which allows for some pleasant reminiscing about your own childhood. If you are more like me, a latchkey kid from a single parent household then you may find yourself swept into the office of your favorite therapist for some seasonal relief.
I told my friend, “Rachel, you will survive. 2016 is just around the corner. In the meantime, your children will delight in the most wonderful time of the year.”
Just remember, my friend, ’tis the season to be manic.