2019 Holiday Series: Part I Excerpt

Nov 10, 2019

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The Perfect Christmas 

Cassie loved Christmas and for years she worked hard to make it perfect for her family but her husband wanted something more from his wife. Something that she was just too exhausted to give - time and attention that he craved - and to see her smile again. She knew she was not giving the marriage 100% and yet, she felt like he didn’t appreciate her efforts. Her efforts for a perfect Christmas were born out of deep hurt many years ago - a hurt that she didn’t want to face, until an accident that would turn her life around.
John had been spending longer and longer nights away at “work” and when Cassie met his new employee, she knew why. But then the unthinkable happened one cold night - Cassie had an accident while taking a walk outside of their daughter's school. She was in a coma at the hospital where John discovered what he had right in front of him as they prayed and held his wife's hand. While sleeping, he saw the pain in his wife's face and knew what he needed to do.
Cassie and John come in full circle to finding what is really needed and what is already perfect without anything they needed to do.
Part I - "The Party" 

The alarm was beeping loudly, for the second time and  a part of Cassie desperately wanted to hit it a third time but she promptly turned it off and sat up. Looking over at her sleeping husband John, she groaned a bit. She knew he would most likely roll over and wake up soon, but she couldn’t help wondering what arguments they would have that day. He snored quietly next to her, a rhythm she had grown accustomed to over fourteen years of marriage.  Watching him sleep peacefully, she saw a hint of the man she fell in love with back in college. John Davis swept her off her feet, yet for the past few years, they seem to be only sweeping past each other. A wide gap had grown between them. Cassie chalked it up to how busy they both were, but John had a different idea of why they were drifting apart. 

She took another deep breath at the thought of her husband, she held it for a second before letting it slowly back out. Once again, that would have to wait. Too much to do. Always too much to do. She was determined that today would be a perfect day for the family despite their distance.

Her mind drifted to her oldest daughter, Danielle and she took another deep breath. Today was going to be a very busy and she knew she needed her teenager to step up, but that would be an argument in and of itself. People warned her for a long time about the teenage years, but back when Danielle was an infant, she was so focused on being a new mom, breastfeeding, sleep schedules and nursery needs - that she didn’t listen. There is just too much to be done when they are small and the teenage years seemed light years away. 

Once again, too much to do. Too much when they were small and still too much to do. For a moment, Cassie wondered if she  created her days to be “too much”. Or was that just the way life was. She sighed quietly tucking the comforter snuggly under her chin. The December days were getting colder and she could hear a blustery wind howling outside her window as the sun began to peak in through the blinds. The thought of her first baby Danielle were precious years. She longed for that time again. She felt John stirred slightly in his sleep.

I will give him a break, it’s Saturday after all. She thought and chuckled to herself. A “break”? What is that exactly?

Reluctantly, she slipped out from the warm comforter and quietly went to her closet to changed into some yoga pants and a light, long sleeved shirt. Throwing her hair up in her infamous “mom bun” that made Danielle cringe and her other daughter, Diana, laugh. She made a face at herself as she glanced in the mirror before heading downstairs to get some stretching in and hopefully a cup of coffee to herself. The first weekend in December already had a long to-do list for the holidays. She could feel her heart pounding with excitement and anxiety as her mind raced to getting it all done before their annual Christmas party that night. She exited the closet and as she turned to grab her phone, John was awake and staring at her from the bed.

“It is 7:00 am on a Saturday morning and I can already tell you are anxious. Would you just RELAX and actually enjoy the holidays for once? Maybe come back and lay with me a bit.” He opened the covered and motioned for her to come back. She didn’t want to argue that early in the morning, so she smiled instead. 

“Good morning babe,” was all she said in response, ignored his invite back to their nice warm bed and headed downstairs.

They got into an argument a few nights ago in the midst of another one of her her anxious madness moments, trying to frost the cookies for a Girl Scout meeting. It broke her heart to hear that he was unhappy as she tried so hard to make everything special, not just the holidays. She lit up to see the smiles and giggles from her daughters at Christmas and during the school break. And she loved to entertain for their family and friends. Why didn’t he understand that?

She smelled fresh coffee, eggs and cinnamon toast from the kitchen and was surprised to see Danielle already up hovering over four plates she set out. So much for a quiet cup of coffee and yoga stretching. Though Dani’s interest in cooking always impressed her, she worried about the girl sometimes. What teenager gets up this early on a Saturday? However, Danielle loved to cook and she was already quite the chef! Better than her, that is for sure.

“Wow Dani! Look at this yummy spread you are making!” Cassie smiled at her oldest daughter.

“Hey mom, I couldn’t sleep and after tossing and turning for awhile, my growling stomach got me up.” She smiled, looking so much like John with her green eyes and curly brown hair.

“Sorry you didn’t sleep in but I owe your stomach a big thank you! Ok, today we have lots to do. New lights for the tree...some are out...and it's driving me nuts and then…”

“Mom, seriously? Chill. Don’t get yourself tied in knots. Dad will have a fit because he’ll have to take all the decorations down just to replace the lights.” Danielle shook her head.

“I will take the decorations down myself. The party is tonight and they are so noticeable and…”

“And everyone will be just fine and happy and stuffing their faces with all the food you’ve been planning.” Danielle turned and stared at her.

“Cass - Dani is right, CHILL!” Cassie startled at the sound of John’s voice. She hadn’t heard her husband come into the kitchen. Her heart sank a bit at his sternness. 

Sometimes her family just didn’t understand how important these things were to her. She just wanted everything to be perfect and everyone happy.Sometimes she felt so unappreciated. Everything she did in her home was led from the heart.

But maybe they were right. Maybe she needs to be more ‘chill’. That thought scared her. She quickly started helping in the kitchen and got glasses out for drinks. John’s constant reminder for her to “chill” was really starting to bother her, she could feel her cheeks heating up with anger. Her mind drifted into thought for a minute. 

Why was she so uptight about everything being perfect? When did that start? Was she really “OCD” as John described her? 

Questions raced through her mind and she tried to set them aside. She had a flash memory and her heart began to pound. Her mind went back to a time when Danielle was only three months old. She went to her first moms group and had no idea what to expect. That day so long ago, she sat and listened to the moms sharing how well breastfeeding was going and how their babies were sleeping soundly at night. She remembered feeling so bad. Danielle was a sweet baby and rarely cried except when she was being put to bed or the breast. She seemed to be “allergic” to sleep and breastfeeding was never easy. It was better the second time around with Diana. The worst part of it all, was how “dressed” they looked. Every mom there had real clothes on and some even had a little makeup on. Cassie barely got there on time, nevermind putting makeup on. It didn’t help that they all ignored her and when she didn’t try and chat, they glanced her way, only to study her up and down. 

When Cassie walked out of that first meeting - the first thing she did was head to the mall to buy better “mom clothes” and cried the entire time she was there. She felt like she had failed already and she was only a few months into motherhood. She never wanted to feel that way again and pushed aside all the anxiety and manifested that into ongoing action. This need to be “perfect” stemmed further back than that day at the moms group meeting. 

John was not blind to how his wife had changed since he married her - for he had front row seats watching her decline over the years due to the constant pressure she put on herself, especially around the holidays. Always staying busy to be a good mother and role model for their girls. But deep down it was fear that was her driving force. Fear that she would fail as a mother. What she didn’t realize is that Danielle and John saw a mother who did too much for them and not much for herself.

Cassie’s physical and emotional cup had been empty and dry for years - and she was about to be forced to fill it back up.

“John, please don’t start pushing me to calm down. I feel perfectly relaxed and excited for the party tonight. There is so much to do and I just need everyone’s help,” Cassie eyed Danielle as she spoke. Her daughter rolled her eyes in response and said nothing, while Cassie tried even harder to keep her anger at bay. Don’t be hard on her. She did make omelets afterall, so she can’t be too annoyed with her today

Cassie started heading for the stairs to go wake up Diana, when she heard her youngest daughter’s footsteps at the top of the stairs. Normally she liked to put whatever doll she has in her hand and let it slide down the banister, but today there Christmas garland wrapped around the banister all down it. The smell of her holiday essential oil blend from the front hall filled her nostrils with pine and berries. Gosh she loved the holidays!





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