I can’t remember when I stopped believing in Santa, but I know exactly when I became a Grinch.

It was earlier this month, when a friend complained about not receiving my family’s Christmas card yet. I looked at her message and tried not to cry.

Her card, along with several others, was sitting on my desk waiting to be stamped and addressed. I was working through the pile a few at a time in hopes of keeping holiday-related burnout at bay.

That same goal led me to wrap gifts in stages and spread out my family’s favorite holiday activities, like baking cookies and visiting the Santa at Cabela’s, over several weeks.

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I thought this approach to the chaos of Christmas would keep me feeling confident about getting everything done. Instead, it ensured the entire month of December was coated in a thin layer of stress.

But until I got my friend’s message, I felt certain that my heightened anxiety levels were well worth the cost. I didn’t mind feeling a bit miserable if it meant helping my 3-year-old learn to love the magic of Christmas and ensuring that visiting relatives were enjoying themselves.

After the message, I questioned why I was clogging up so much of my spare time doing things for loved ones who either didn’t care as much as me about cookies and gifts or who would find something to complain about no matter how hard I tried.

“I’m sick of trying to create Christmas magic for others,” I told my husband. “No one cares about creating it for me.”

If, when I was still a kid, you’d told my parents that I was going to have this outburst at age 33, I don’t think they would have been surprised.

Even at 10 or 12 years old, I had incredibly high Christmas-related expectations and a very long list of Christmas-related tasks to complete.

The difference was that, back then, the pressure of finishing those tasks was spread between several people. My grandma would bake cookies with me. My mom would chase down the gifts on my wish list. My dad would get the tree and lights in order. My brother would watch “A Christmas Story” with me 27 times.

As an adult, I have fewer people around to help and much less free time. I have also come to despise asking for help, even when my husband urges me to, well, tell him what to do.

What I’m trying to say is that my Grinch-ness is a self-inflicted problem, even if it rose to the surface due to that text. Christmas would still be wonderful without cards or as many cookies, but I can’t seem to get that through my hot cocoa-addled head.

The solution that makes the most sense to me is not to scale back on activities but to accept that a little Grinch-ness is a given at this stage in my life.

I’m not a kid anymore; I have my own kids. It feels like it’s my Christmas duty to make things magical for them, even if it really stresses me out.

And so I’ll stay up past my bedtime wrapping presents and make five different types of cookies. I’ll go to the mall every weekend and to the grocery store even more. I’ll watch Christmas movies during dinner and read Christmas books at bedtime.

I’ll do what I can to make the season special for my boys, just like my parents did for me.

If the next few years are anything like this one, I’ll have at least one Grinch-like outburst.

But then, when I hear my toddler excitedly scream “Santa” or when my husband pulls off a Christmas surprise, my heart grows two sizes and once again feels just right in my chest.