I hate the holidays.
I don’t hate the holidays.
I sort of hate the holidays.
Does that make me un-American? Un-Christian? The Grinch?
Can I get real with you guys for a second here? There is a ton of shit to do.
But what’s worse is: WE CREATED ALL THAT SHIT.
There was a time when John and I were pretty Charlie Brown about our Christmas and it truly didn’t bother us. But with each newer bigger dwelling, and each newer bigger child, we have accumulated a little bit more.
Maybe I’ve just accumulated newer bigger expectations.
Obviously I didn’t get it when I was a kid. I really did believe my mother loved every minute of Christmas decorating. I assumed she skipped down the aisles of Walmart or Target or whatever, happily throwing things into the cart for us with no thought about price tags or maintaining equality between the four kids. (And this was before Amazon PRIME! How did she do it?! No, really. How?)
My dad did a lot too, and I know for a fact that he does enjoy his role. He puts up Christmas lights because he likes them. He makes Christmas cookies because he enjoys it. He dresses like Santa and barges into neighbors houses without knocking because he gets an honest-to-God kick out of the silliness and spirit of it all. And while I’m sure he was happy to pick up anything my mom needed from Radio Shack on Christmas Eve, it is only now that I realize my mother was mission control behind the entire operation. (Birthdays too, let’s just say it.)
And that is fine.
Because we are stay at home mothers, and house management is our biggest responsibility behind keeping kids alive.
There is a ton of shit to do.
It starts about the week before Halloween and doesn’t really end until Valentine’s Day. It is driven by Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. And it is further driven by social media – from “the Elves on the Shelves have returned!” to “Hiking for the perfect tree!” to “Such sweet moments, I swear she fell asleep like that and I just couldn’t wake her…”
And then it is even further driven from those taller-than-average corners insisting they are doing things differently, re-focusing their priorities, un-materializing, down-sizing, living in peace with completely humble children who experience (and voice) exactly zero desires, despite the inundation of material-holiday-noise hitting them daily. Kids who never complain about how they are the only kids who don’t have _________ in their entire class.
And I admit it. I compare myself. To all of it. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly.
And once in a while the comparisons get the better of me.
I know it has all been said, celebrated, liked, commented on, satirized, secretly whispered about in negative ways, and then publicly (and potentially distastefully) blasted on mom blogs all over the Internet.
I don’t want to join any bandwagons here. I just want to share my reality.
Reality number 1: I bought a “working” pre-lit Christmas tree off Craigslist one year for $20 and then spent the better part of a 4-day weekend cutting off all the lights that didn’t work. Because I wanted to get my money’s worth.
Reality number 2: I bought several tied garbage bags of “great condition” holiday wreaths from a friend of a friend last May and opened them for the first time on Monday morning. I spent more than an hour searching Google images and Pinterest, and studied no less than three of my neighbors houses as examples of exactly how to hang wreaths in the 8 front-facing windows of my house. What you see is a tidy display of modest holiday cheer. What you don’t see is the hour I spent attempting to tie bows out of red ribbon that all resembled one another, then, giving up (sweating and cursing) and taking wire clippers to ten different wreaths and declaring “no bows” to be more fashionable this year. (I further un-winded at 10:30am with a shot of whiskey and a hot glue gun and produced eight wreaths that now all appear to belong in the same family.)
Reality number 3: I carved the pumpkins from my porch and roasted the seeds this past Sunday while John got down our $20 tree and our one, 66-quart, latch box of Christmas decorations, which sat in the kids’ playroom, mostly untouched, until tonight, just before dinner.
Reality number 4: Every year I’ve added “just a small” string of lights to finish off the top, and every year I need another string of lights, because whatever we have from previous years somehow doesn’t make it all the way to the top of the tree two years in a row.
Reality number 5: Two entire sections of my 300-count string of LED lights doesn’t work, despite the box that says “If One Bulb Burns Out, the Others Stay Lit.”
Reality number 6: I put that string of lights on the tree, anyway.
Reality number 7: I laid out new Christmas PJ’s on each kid’s bed at 4:30 and told them we’d bathe before dinner and watch “Elf” while we ate. At 6:30, no one was bathed, only half of my dinner was even edible, Elf did not make it onto the TV, and more than half the family was screaming, crying, and/or throwing things at the table, including me.
So all I’m saying is, I need to not lose perspective this holiday season when it seems like everyone else is doing better than me.
Nobody has their shit together.
I’m not the only one who will have at least one very emotional fight with my spouse about something incredibly stupid in the next 25 days. Like food. Or wrapping paper.
And while I’d love to sign off this post with some quip driving home the point that Jesus is the reason for the season, I’m content, for now at least, to just do the best I can with what I’ve got. And what I’ve got is a handful of kids under the age of 9 who know Santa is a lie but still believe the Tooth Fairy might be real.
Onward and upward.