When you're a kid, Christmas is the ultimate holiday: No school for the weeks surrounding it, lots of presents, good food, Christmas traditions and the possibility of snow. As I've gotten older, I've watched Christmas shift from a magical, exciting holiday to a bunch of hard work and planning topped with a little red bow.
It's not just me, right? Parents get the short end of the proverbial stick here. Our Christmas break is a lot shorter, presents are fewer, all that "good food" is painstakingly prepared by us and we're in charge of keeping all those Christmas traditions alive -- including Santa Claus. Not so easy when your children have a sixth sense capable of detecting the presence of onions in their dinner or secret conversations you're having three rooms over.
We plan and follow a complicated sequence of actions every year to make sure our children believe in this man, Santa Claus. From spending hundreds of dollars on gifts and then labeling them as being "From Santa" to actually making and leaving out cookies for him (and if you're like me, carrots for the reindeer), we're pulling out all the stops to keep the dream alive. And honestly, we're kind of getting cheated in the process.
For a parent, Christmas goes a little something like this:
In the months, weeks, or days before Christmas, there is shopping. It can be a lot of shopping or a little shopping, but either way, you're braving large crowds who are potentially angry and also in need of the very same toy you are, Jingle All the Way-style. For self defense, pepper spray is a good idea, although using it in Walmart is probably not.
Late Christmas Eve, you'll be up putting together that desk, playhouse or puppet theater. You'll realize it's missing an important screw or piece. You might have a mini-meltdown before you notice the piece was (hopefully) just hiding in the bottom of the box. Just kidding, you'll never find it and the manufacturers will deny everything, all while your child thinks Santa brought him a three-legged desk for Christmas. Try not to cry.
Then, just when you think you've earned a good night's sleep, you'll be woken in the wee hours of Christmas morning by your child physically jumping on your head, yelling something about presents. Again, try not to cry.
And then it's time to get up in a hurry to watch as they unwrap all their gifts (which are "From Santa," not you), which is really sweet until it's time to clean up the wrapping paper and packaging. Where is Santa for all the dirty work?
While they run off to play with their large amount of new stuff from Santa, not you, you'll make breakfast, which has to be impressive and fabulous. If it's not, Christmas will be ruined for everyone. So you'll whip up a hearty breakfast casserole or those adorable Christmas tree pancakes you saw on Pinterest, try to figure out where all this new stuff is going to go, and have an oversized cup of coffee or two. Bonus points if you can muster up the holiday cheer to hum or sing Christmas carols while you do it.
Don't worry, though! When it's all said and done (and after you've unwrapped that foot massager/had your Christmas morning mimosa), you'll feel great. Everyone will be happy, full, and obsessed with their brand new material possessions. You won't be able to take full credit for it ("From Santa"), but you'll know you pretty much orchestrated the whole thing and made Christmas a success. That feeling, knowing you helped make the day special for your family, is definitely worth the trouble you'll go through doing it. Most likely.
Follow Debra Carpenter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hello_itsdeb