Have Yourself a Half-Assed Little Christmas

12/01/2016 01:49 pm ET
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I’m not a Scrooge.

I’m not even a Grinch.

My apathy can coexist with your Christmas village and your baby Jesus.

I have thousands of elves sitting on shelves -- check your local retail stores.

It is not that I want to fight the non-existent war on Christmas, it’s just that I find it difficult to muster enthusiasm for the prolonged holiday season.

It is totally OK with me if you want to go all out. It’s not like you needed my opinion or my permission, anyhow. If you want to dump flour all over your kitchen and blame an elf, that’s cool. Really, I’m not being condescending, it’s actually pretty awesome.

I am that mom for Halloween and birthdays. I don’t scoff if you want to go buy costumes at the dollar tree or forgo birthday parties entirely. Nobody is depriving their kids of a childhood just because they don’t spend six months making costumes any more than if I fail to hand-make five different advent calendars from locally-sourced burlap and organic unicorn tears.

Honestly, it all looks fun, in theory. But I just can’t.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and from my vantage point, Christmas is the point of no return on a quickly accelerating downhill roller coaster. Antidepressants make life bearable, they do not make me anything you could call jolly.

Santa annoys me. I play along because I love watching my daughter’s enthusiasm, but to be honest, why is this creepy dude who sneaks into our house at night and eats our cookies given the credit for the best toys? No, actually, it was Mommy who stayed up all night trying to score that Hatchimal (note: that would never really happen).

The Christmas tree is a source of mild anxiety. I’ll spend the day sneezing, as we pull dusty boxes down from the attic. Untangling lights. Buying new lights. Keeping the toddler from pulling the whole thing down on his head. And then packing it all back up six weeks later. My husband insists the ornaments need to go back in their original boxes. When did we become too good for six-pack holders and sectioned liquor store boxes?

I’m not religious -- I have no specific ties to the reason for the season. But seriously, kids hate having winter birthdays. Wouldn’t Jesus rather us celebrate with a pool party? Possibly in Tahiti? Let the southern hemisphere keep December. We’ll take June.

Have you noticed that any cute craft or activity becomes a “tradition” when children are involved? I need to keep the bar low before I find myself knee deep in messes made by naughty elves sent to terrify my children into compliance.

And then once it’s over you have to take it all down.

Christmas lights are the best thing about the season but once I put them up they stay that way. They stay up until the wall needs painting or they collapse under the weight of their own dust. I have to keep the twinkle lights at a level you might call “tasteful college chic” and not “she does know it’s April, right?”

I still have a rotting jack-o-lantern on my porch. It’s bound to dissolve eventually.

If you think I sound whiny, it’s because I am.

But I also know I am not alone. I am not writing this for the happy elves, I’m writing it for those of us who hang on by our fingernails, trying to get the joy without all the work and expectations.

So, for my fellow overwhelmed and tired mothers who spend most of the year keeping their heads inches above water and manage half-assed apathy during the best of holiday seasons, give yourself permission to lean the eff out. Especially in light of the dumpster fire that has been 2016.

Do what makes you happy. What makes your smile genuine on Christmas day?

We leave reindeer food (dog food and glitter) on the porch for Rudolph and Co. and I even go outside after bedtime and scatter some around. We set out beer for Santa; the reindeer are the ones driving, not him. The tree will get decorated. Cookies will be made.

I love the days around Christmas. Watching my children patter down the hallways, bleary-eyed in footie pajamas. Sitting under the damn tree opening presents. Visiting family. Eating myself sick.

It’s the first two months of nonstop celebration that wear me down.

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Rhiannon Giles is an overwhelmed mother who only occasionally considers giving her children to the circus. She has a sarcasm problem and writes regularly at rhiyaya.com. To keep up with new posts and see some of her favorites, join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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