Entry #3: Gryla, the Icelandic Christmas Hag

The holidays are upon us.  This is a great chance for children everywhere to see some really cranky parents.  And by cranky parents I mean me, Leah…blah mom turned cranky mom.  Everything was bumping along alright until this past weekend.  I had a million plans for holiday achievements that needed to be achieved and I unfortunately forgot one critical thing yet again: I have 3 kids.  And they are SUPER WOUND UP about the holidays! So progress on all the tasks was pretty much non-existent…  I could just feel the stress and overwhelm building as I looked around the house at unwashed clothes, washed-yet-unfolded clothes, washed-folded-yet-un-put-away clothes, the half trimmed tree, the 3 boxes of Christmas paraphernalia still lurking around the edges of the living room, 150 unsent Christmas cards, not-yet-wrapped-up gifts, not-yet-tucked-into-envelopes teacher gift cards and all the promises I had made to the kids about BAKING. Elise reminded me of these promises no less than 30 times between the hours of 6 and 9 am on Sunday morning.  And on top of all this, (those of you with an Icelandic husband like mine will know) the Icelandic Santas started coming on December 12!!!  December 12!!!  The Icelandic Santas are this hilarious group of trolls/elves who come at night and bring candy or small toys and leave them in the shoes of Icelandic kids. They have names like “Pot Licker,” “Door Slammer” and “Window Peeper.”  They are a mischievous bunch and they live in a messy cave with their “grumpy, unpleasant, disgruntled and annoyed” mother, Gryla, the Christmas Hag, who cooks misbehaving children in her cauldron (This information is from The 13 Yule Lads of Iceland by Brian Pilkington.) and their father Leppaludi who lays low to avoid being cooked in Gryla’s cauldron. It’s all starting to sound awfully familiar though (apart from the fact that I don’t even own a cauldron)…is there some deeper truth here? In any case, if you want to avoid giving the kids candy every day, you must have 13 little gifts for EACH KID! (And since I have reluctantly put Arnor in charge of all this, there has been a lower proportion of carefully-thought-out toys and a larger proportion of ridiculous amounts of candy prompting additional early morning mommy crankiness, like the day he gave them each a giant candy-cane-shaped plastic container filled with Christmas M&Ms. To Arnor: If you’re going to give them candy, at least make it: SMALLER.) Plus each Santa has a special snack that he enjoys, which must be left out and found half eaten in the morning. 

Elise being cooked in Gryla’s cauldron…

By Sunday I was on the verge of spontaneous combustion and reminding myself that stop, drop and roll is the proper procedure should I suddenly burst into flames…plus I know exactly where the fire extinguisher is as well. So that is comforting. “Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it’s just not really widely reported.” (This is a quote by David St. Hubbins from the movie Spinal Tap).  I’m pretty sure 99% of the dozens of people who spontaneously combust each year are moms at Christmastime.  After a long day of stressing myself out with thoughts like, “You are way behind in EVERYTHING” I was finally tucking my simmering self into bed under 3 layers of blankets to prevent spontaneous combustion while sleeping, only to remember that we forgot to put the Icelandic Santa gifts in the shoes and partially eat the snack!  NOOOOOO!!! 

It wasn’t until Monday when the kids went off to school and I had a moment to think straight and get my thoughts out of the total disordered state they were in (perfectly mirroring my house) that I realized, all this stuff that I need/want to do is actually a great opportunity for me to work on my inner Gryla.  It was very helpful for me to realize that (as is always the case) none of the holiday stuff or household mess is creating my stress and overwhelm. I’m creating that all by myself. I have this belief that if I can get everything done and stay on top of my overly optimistic schedule, that means I am one of those on-top-of-it moms who succeeds at everything and looks good while doing it. If I can keep my family and house in order, that means I can probably succeed at building a successful company and my kids will probably turn out amazing and all the rest of it. So it’s not just about the laundry and creeping clutter and holiday achievements, it’s a deeper meaning that I’m giving to the laundry and creeping clutter and holiday achievements that is really driving me nuts. The question is: can I think of myself as an on-top-of-it-all mon who is destined to succeed even while surrounded by the messy house, unfinished tasks and wound up kids? Even if I’m off schedule?  Even if I’m on the verge of spontaneous combustion or worse, if I’ve actually transformed into Gryla the Christmas Hag?!!  The truth is, since my thoughts are up to me, then of course I can. It’s just going against the grain in my brain. My brain is like, “Yup, here we go again.  You can’t handle the Christmas season which is a sign that it’s never gonna work out for you. You’re Gryla the Christmas Hag.” and I’m just falling for it! 

So while I work on my own perspective shift and believing that I’m one of those amazing on-top-of-it-all moms regardless of my Gryla-like tendencies and untidy cave…I mean house..I want to wish you all a lovely holiday season!!!  I hope you will take a moment in the midst of your self-created holiday craziness to appreciate all the work YOU have put in to making this time special for your little ones and loved ones. Even if you’re on the verge of spontaneous combustion or worse, you, like me, have transformed into Gryla, you’ve probably only gotten yourself to this place because of a lot of sweet intentions and unmanaged thinking. If this is the case, appreciating yourself is the perfect gift for you to give yourself this holiday season…it’s free yet priceless, plus no gift wrap or ribbon or tag or gift receipt required! It might even prevent spontaneous combustion or transform you back to the charming non-hag-like mom you really are. (Note: if you really can’t find it in your heart to appreciate yourself, give yourself the gift of a Prada handbag with a big bow on it…I bet even Gryla wouldn’t have been quite so grumpy had Door Slammer or Sausage Stealer given her one…) 

Processed with VSCO with g9 preset

One thought on “Entry #3: Gryla, the Icelandic Christmas Hag

  1. I just stumbled across your blog when I was googling “Gryla”. I usually threaten my children with Krampus but Gryla is much more terrifying; probably bc it’s more relatable for them with a cranky mom! I must say I love this post! Esp the end about Gryla not being so crabby if her sons had shown their appreciation a bit more, ha!


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