Moms, we are heading into the heart of the holiday season, and you know what that means: it is all up to you. YOU. Yep, you! You are the shopper, the baker, the tree decorator. The cookie swapper, the secret Santa giver, the hanger of the garland. The family picture taker, package delivery maker and holiday party planner.
Exhausted much? Me too. There are neither enough hours nor espresso-jolted chestnut lattes for this mom to be able to do all that I am supposed to (expected to? assumed to?) get done before the fat jolly guy in the red suit comes. But that's OK, because I have a few ways you can totally drop the glass ornament ball on some of your holiday to-do list, without looking like a grinch. Moms of the world, how about we take off just a touch of the Pinterest-perfect Christmas pressure? I'm calling for a collective round of caroling out "Let it go!", holiday style -- where we spread the joy of not giving a crap about the to-do list and instead, we actually allow ourselves to feel joyful, rather than burdened by the season. Then, after Christmas, we may actually have some joy left to spread throughout 2015.
I've got a few ideas.
1. Embrace the Imperfect Tree
Put down that copy of Southern Living with the 20 ft., impeccably decorated Christmas tree on the cover, because it's never gonna happen. Don't even eyeball the department store trees. Nope. Also not gonna happen. And you know what? It shouldn't. If you have little ones in your house, let go the idea of having a perfectly-trimmed tree. Heck, when I had infants crawling all over the place and climbing on everything, I actually put the tree up inside a pack 'n play. A few years later, after spending hours trimming it to perfection, a 4-year-old ran into it head-on in the cozy coupe and knocked it over. From that year on, my boys have trimmed the tree. All of it. I just let it go. Sure, for a while it only had ornaments on the bottom half, but they have grown taller, and now it gets trimmed all the way to the top. It is not magazine cover-worthy, and sometimes I find things hanging on it that aren't actually ornaments (a little league trophy?) but they love it. It's their Christmas tree. And it's perfect. Win.
2. Don't Wrap Every Single Present
I am not a present wrapper. Nope. Hate it. I realized years ago I could not wrap presents and leave them under the tree with a house full of boys. Five seconds after I walked out the door, they were unwrapping to see the contents, then attempting to re-wrap. From then on, all presents stay well hidden until they magically appear under the tree Christmas morning. Seriously, there are no presents under my tree until the 25th. My idea of wrapping is sticking on a bow with a "From Santa" label, or a recycled gift bag if I am feeling nutty. If my older boys want to help wrap gifts for the little ones, they are more than welcome, but no style points are given or expected. Often, it becomes a competition of who can wrap the worst. I let it go. Bonus: There is a lot less garbage Christmas morning, and I've saved a few trees. Earth Day should totally be in December. Win.
3. A Real Family Christmas Card Picture
The best, easiest, most successful holiday family photo I took for our card was the one with all my boys ASLEEP. It is not physically or mentally possible to get four boys (and one grown man) to dress formally, smile joyfully and stand still for any length of time beyond two seconds. Trust me on this. It CANNOT happen. So, I let go of the notion of the perfect holiday portrait. One night, in a eureka! moment that may have been clouded by a few too many rum balls, I took a picture of all of them sleeping. That became our family Christmas picture.
The card read, "Finally, a Silent Night!" Never before did I have friends personally call me to tell me how awesome our Christmas card was until that year. Win.
We will spend the next few weeks most likely feeling way more stressed than blessed. The season sends many moms and dads into a frenzy trying to just get it all done. And why? Because it is a "season," and we feel like we fail if we don't do it all. It is all the great things we do as people, but forced and shoved into about 25 days. We save it all for Christmas; the charitable gift giving, the delicious food, drinking hot chocolate and snuggling with our kids, the parties where we come together with friends, the bringing of home baked goodies over to a neighbor, the telling our loved ones near and far what they mean to us. We save it all for one month. And then we stress out about how it has to be perfect and done, all before the 25th.
Well, it doesn't. There are 12 months in a year, and lo and behold, they all have a 25th. Let it be "the season" all year. In the middle of June, bring food to the food bank. Throw a party in April, just because you haven't seen your girlfriends in a while. Road trip to your aunt and uncle's house for Sunday dinner in August. Bring fudge to your neighbor in July. Send coffee to your kid's teacher in February. We have the capacity to love and give in abundance, more than just in December. In 2015, try to be a little bit of the season every month, because that is how you really WIN Christmas.