When did the holidays get so stressful? I don’t remember them being like this when I was a kid. Of course, back then I wasn’t a mom and Santa.

It seems that every year the holidays get more and more stressful. I’m sure part of it is because my kids are getting older, so there is more pressure to get them more expensive and popular gifts. They are old enough to know what they want, and to get very disappointed when they don’t get it.

I remember when they were toddlers, you could buy them anything and they would be ecstatic with it. Just the fun of unwrapping something is excitement enough for them. If you wanted, you could buy them an expensive toy, but the thing that they love the most was the box that it came in.

It seems that every year there is so much more to do and less time to do it in. I used to bake mountains of Christmas cookies and give them to friends and relatives. I think all I’ve had time to make in the past few years is one batch of fudge and a batch or two of sugar cookies. Quite sad for someone who loves to bake.

I’m not sure if the holidays will slow down anytime soon. Probably not until my kids are grown, but then what will the holidays be without them? Aren’t they the best part of the holidays?

Family is what makes the holidays worthwhile. Family is also what makes the holidays so chaotic.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.