For all of the parents who just breathed a sigh of relief because the Halloween candy is finally gone, don’t get too comfortable because Thanksgiving is next week and you know what that means…the December holidays are right around the corner. Once again this year you will say hello to Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, in that order. Before you finish your last bite of turkey and lay down to “close your eyes for a minute”, make sure you enjoy that small moment of reprieve because once you are up, you’d better start planning if you haven’t already.
I love the holidays. I love driving around and seeing the Christmas lights in town and the menorahs in the windows. I appreciate the glistening snow, the endless candy canes and the anticipation of Santa Claus. Oh, and I also most certainly welcome the small window of time I have each year to say to my children, “Santa is watching!” Thanks, Santa for the backup! I love spending time with my family and seeing relatives that I don’t get to be with often enough. Count me in for secret gift exchanges, Friendsgiving/Festivus parties, and holiday light shows. I love and embrace it all!
Despite the magic of the holidays, let’s be real for a second. No holiday, especially the December holidays, would get pulled off without the magic of a mother. Now, I’m not saying that the dads don’t help. We all know that they are downstairs cleaning out the basement while good old mom is upstairs cleaning the house for company. The basement is always top priority. All jokes aside, the dads, aunts, uncles, and grandparents all play a special part and do their best to assist. But in my humble opinion, the real magic comes from mommy. Mom is the one who starts shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah in October. She has all of the gift lists ready for each child, each family member, all the teachers, bus drivers, mail-carriers, garbage men, you name it. The list is never ending! She knows when to take her family photo so that she can have just enough time to order Christmas cards and mail them out. She meal plans every holiday she is hosting and also knows exactly what scrumptious treat or appetizer she will bring to any get together her family is attending. She has all of the Christmas outfits planned and makes sure she has an inventory of who needs new hats, mittens and boots. She remembers to buy tickets for her family to attend the town’s Christmas event and signs her kids up for hot chocolate tastings, complete with a reindeer craft. She has her calendar filled with all of the important dates, especially Santa’s arrival on the fire truck, gingerbread house building contests, and even that last minute holiday haircut so her kids look presentable when they see family. She is making sure that everything is wrapped and ready before the big day and she is not the only one making her list and checking it twice. Santa has nothing on a mom who has a mission to create a magical Christmas for her children!
The holidays don’t have to be stressful. But of course, when striving for a perfect day, stress comes along with it. I wish I could go back to previous years and tell myself just to breathe, relax, and take in the moment. Stop rushing around and checking off (and trying to perfectly wrap) boxes. Stand back as you watch your kids experience each part of the holidays, not just the opening of their gifts. They really truly love every minute and it doesn’t matter if you schedule ten holiday themed activities or one, your kids will just be happy to be in the moment with you.
The same goes for gift giving. I know parents feel like they have to fill up a room with presents, but I find that in my experience my kids always enjoyed the holidays whether they got three gifts under the tree or twelve. I often feel that people feel pressure to buy not only numerous gifts, but focus more on toys and games. Sometimes the best gift is something that will create an experience or a memory. I’ve given my kids “mommy coupons” that entitle them to one on one time with mom or dad and can be tickets to a show or museum, a lunch date, a nail appointment, or even a sporting event. I also think it’s extremely important that kids learn to give back during the holidays. They need to know that there are always people less fortunate than them and that they should be thinking about how they can help whether it’s volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating old toys, or putting together a care package for someone in need. The holidays don’t have to be all about receiving and children should know that giving is equally important. Once children learn this lesson, they figure out that it’s not what is under the tree that’s important.
So this year when you’re sweating in your kitchen with flour on your face and a pie that wasn’t exactly easy to make, that you may or may not have just burned, remember that you are amazing and your family is lucky to have you. Try to step back and remember that whatever you are doing is good enough and that your family will appreciate it. Even when your relatives come in from out of town and are driving you nuts, try your best to laugh it off and if that doesn’t work, send them out to the store to grab a few more pies…and some wine.
Oh, and I know I said to go easy on the lists, but this one may be helpful!
Holiday Shopping List (for moms!)
Spouse/ significant other
Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, in-laws
Charity in need
Teachers: school, daycare, therapists, dance/coaches