I have a pretty large family by most standards. Between us, my husband and I have 6 children, each with a spouse or significant other. We currently have 11 grandchildren – with potentially more to come from the youngest of our kids. Add nieces, nephews, brother, or ex-wife (yes, we have hosted her – and her husband), and the numbers climb even higher.
So when major holidays – like Christmas – roll around, my house is usually the epicenter of a lot of chaos. People need to be fed, gifts need to be distributed, pictures need to be taken, spills need to be cleaned, and dishes need to be done. Since I am basically anal, I like them done efficiently, thoroughly, and deliciously. I like things done, and done right.
But all of that doing means that I don’t get to enjoy sitting still and holding the baby, or laughing over a glass of wine, or playing a board game with the older grandchildren. I never get to connect with my family during hectic holidays – I am simply too busy trying to make sure everything is perfect for them. After everyone goes home, I am extraordinarily sad and contented at the same time. I am always pouting that I didn’t get to really talk to everyone, but so satisfied knowing that I provided a comfortable home, good food, and a happy memory for my family. It’s an internal conflict that I never resolve.
At the end of HRevolution, the unconference that was held in Chicago a few days ago and that I was proud and humbled to help organize, I felt exactly the same way. By the time the post-conference party was over and some of us were waiting to eat dinner, I was exhausted, hungry, and depressed. I was depressed because I knew I had missed out on an opportunity to connect with so many intelligent, wonderful people. I was too busy, as an organizer, to pay much attention to the individuals, in order to help create a good experience for the whole.
The attendees were highly grateful for the experience and most have thanked the conference planners profusely for their work. The planners even received a standing O at the end of the conference day – an uplifting and thoughtful gesture. In no way was my depression due to a lack of gratitude, and I was extremely happy to have had a small part in creating the best attendee experience possible.
I went to bed, though, wondering if I would ever do it again. Just like I do every Christmas.