Growing up, Christmas was always a joyous time for me. Now, even as an adult I am still the crazy lady who blasts Christmas music beginning at 12:01 am on November 1st. But, for so many the most magical and wonderful time of year is more stressful than fun, especially for mamas. As soon as we inherited the title of "mom," the generational glitter baton of creating Christmas magic was passed down to us and each year we begin our quest to create the picture perfect Christmas.
There is the decorating, baking, planning, teacher gifts, shopping (for the entire family), wrapping, charity drives, the ELF, coordinated outfits for Christmas card family photos - all while looking like we don't hate each other. Mailing, shipping, planning/hosting, doing ALL. THE. THINGS. without completely losing our minds in the process.
This laundry list of to-do items that keeps us awake at night, that steals our sanity and reminds us that we definitely don't have it all together is sabotaging our own joy. You're having trouble making your Christmas miracle happen, mama because you are striving for something completely unattainable and irrelevant.
Think back to your most fond Christmas memories. Do you remember the table centerpieces, how clean the house looked or how perfectly the packages under the tree were wrapped?
It's the smell of your favorite casserole baking in the oven and coffee brewing early in the morning. It's grandmas quilted ornaments hanging on the tree with the silver garland. It's eating sugar cookies for breakfast because calories don't count when you're ten. It's laughing til you can't breathe. It's fighting over a three hour game of Monopoly. It's everyone talking over one another at the loudest decibel possible to be heard as stories are told around the table.
As women we have this idea in our head that if we don't make 10 different types of cookies, roll out 300 Oreo ball truffles by hand, cook meals for the local mission, decorate the house, wrap three dozen presents for the entire family, host Christmas parties for friends and family to Pinterest perfection then we are failing.
But, ask your family what they want this Christmas and I guarantee none of that would be on the list. But, do you know the one thing I guarantee would be on their list?
Our laundry list of to-do's is part expectations of those around us and part perfection that we place upon ourselves. If you want to bake ten different types of Christmas cookies, do it. If you want to plan a lavish party for family and friends, do it. Just remember that we have a choice and if you aren't happy with that choice and it's stressing you out, then that's on you.
It's OK if your dining room table doesn't look like the cover of a Southern Living magazine with a glistening home cooked holiday meal or if Uncle Lewis starts in about politics at the family dinner. Just start pouring the wine and have a good laugh, because lord knows you can't change him. We have to let go of this expectation of the perfect family Christmas because quite frankly - it doesn't exist.
I don't want my kids to remember their mama being too stressed out to truly enjoy the holidays.
I want them to remember a mama who made plans, but also dropped them for an extra cuddle and Christmas movie. For the less than edible looking sugar cookie cutouts with grandma and friends, but the laughter that accompanied it. I want my kiddos to see a mama who was far from perfect, but man, was there joy.
So, this year I am lowering my expectations for myself and my family on Christmas and I'm giving myself the gift of saying no this year, and every year for that matter.The tree is up, the stockings hung and Christmas cards will be sent out - but the lights may or may not get put up outside and this year's family Christmas will feature deli trays purchased from the local grocer. Why? Because the holidays are about spending time with family, connecting with those you love, and building memories that last a lifetime.
If you start to feel Christmas slipping away this holiday season and the stress creeping in, stop what you are doing. Grab the kiddos, throw them in the car and do something fun because all your family really wants is, you, mama.