As I was putting the kids to bed last night, my mind was racing. Go into the shed, find the Christmas boxes. Bring out the advent calendars and Zippy the elf. Fill the advent calendars, hopefully my husband picked up some candy. Stage Zippy and advent calendars for the most joy possible… And it wasn’t even December 1 yet. I’ve been stocking up on elf ideas for a while but I guess now is the time to re-find and actually read them. I think I’ve got the kids pretty much taken care of as far as presents go, but I haven’t thought of the nieces, nephews, care packages, Christmas cards or anything else for that matter. Christmas has definitely changed a little since I’ve become a mother.
I remember the first couple of Christmases that we had a child. I talked fairly freely about Christmas around our newborn and then crawling daughter. Suddenly all too soon, I saw her looking intently at us and realized her wheels were turning. Christmas had to get tightened up and STAT! Presents had to be hidden better, Santa’s mystique had to be bolstered, something for the tree should be made every year, and I really should try to get those Christmas cards out before Easter. As much enchantment that automatically surrounds Christmas, I’ve found that a mom’s effort makes it all the more better. But it comes with a price.
To create true holiday spirit, moms must use a writer’s best advice: Show, don’t tell. So there’s more than just putting up a tree and calling it Christmas? Indeed. Sights, sounds and smells, baby. Bake cookies, light those candles (safely, of course, when in the company of children and a nice house), plug in some oils, make the house smell like Christmas. String up the lights, hang some stars, find those kid friendly printables and projects because kids don’t keep themselves occupied. Bring out the Mannheim Steamroller and Sinatra classics, DVR all those vintage masterpieces like Rudolph, Charlie Brown and Frosty and, if you’re the singing type, brush up on those Christmas carols. Separately, each component says Christmas, but if artfully put together, it makes magic on our kid’s faces.
Staying on top of it all requires a list that would make Martha Stewart glow. Keeping the secrets secret while shamelessly dropping the jolly man’s name at every possible moment makes Caitlyn Jenner’s personal assistant’s job look easy. Scheduling shopping trips without the kids but also making sure the kids aren’t home when you need to hide the goods cannot be done without distraction and sleight of hand better than Santa himself. Promoting a person who has never been seen before yet is the most talked about person after Halloween is like creating a person who already exists but doesn’t. Talk about magic!
I tried making sugar cookies with the kids one year. I didn’t even get to chill the dough before I was thinking, “I’ll wait a few more years to do that again!” I thought about how easy hot glue makes ornaments come together, and then thought of dollops, streams and trails of burning glue all connected to my son. I’ve left that in the closet along with the glitter. I know there must be a way to ultra prepare a way out of disaster with these activities because I see evidence all over the internet but I am still trying to put pictures in the ornaments I bought during last year’s Christmas clearance sale.
Maybe I’m trying to put too much into the twenty five most talked about days of the year. Maybe I’m trying to keep up with the Jones’s. On some level, I know I can, but then reality kicks in and all I can do is pour a glass of wine, settle back and watch the magic displayed on the kids’ faces from my half assed attempt at Christmas.
I remember those days. They are quite clear in my mind. It must be a universal struggle with all Moms, well, maybe not Martha Stewart or some of her ilk…we don’t all come with a paid assistant to do all the actual work so that we can really enjoy the Christmas season with our family! But us “poorer” people have to make do with all the work ourselves, and in the long run it will give us fond memories. Some memories that will take us years and years to sit back and laugh at, but at the time seem like disasters. Other memories are fond from the get go as we enjoyed the time it happened. Each of them is held in your mind and heart forever. Maybe not having the internet when you were a child and I was the mother was a blessing. I only had a few neighbors that I had to compete with…and we even had the Jones’s out there…and we didn’t have Martha showing us cutesy things that are far from easy to produce for the house/tree/yard, etc. But you certainly have the best idea in the end…grab that bottle of wine and enjoy a glass…for the successes and the failures…in the end they will all be fond memories if you wait long enough!
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