Are you losing your shit right now?
Are you in the middle of a pre Christmas freakout?
Are you one horn honk, one stink eye or one kid complaint away from the mother of all meltdowns?
If you are, I get it.
I have been there.
And a couple years ago, I’d have been rocking catatonically in the fetal postion in the corner if I was at the level of Christmas (un)preparedness I currently find myself in.
I do not have all my shopping done.
I have no idea what we are going to eat on Christmas Eve or what I have to bring to my parents house on Christmas day.
I haven’t wrapped stuff. I have no tissue paper and I have no desire to venture out among the crazies driving the roads right now to get any.
My house isn’t neat. Or clean.
We haven’t driven to see any houses that are lit up for Christmas.
I had plans to “elf” about five different families, and I have yet to do that.
I was going to make ornaments with the kids, and we didn’t do that. We never made a gingerbread house, and the kids didn’t make any Christmas cookies.
I still even have a couple rogue Halloween decorations in my front entryway that I haven’t managed to put in to the correct bin in the basement.
And I haven’t watched Love Actually or The Family Stone yet.
Watching those movies after Christmas just isn’t the same!!!
I dropped the ball on lots of things this year.
But you know what?
While my kids would love to make ornaments and gingerbread houses and bake Christmas cookies, they are all happy. They are eagerly awaiting December 25th. They are super excited.
They are not complaining about the fact that we didn’t make anything crafty or go on any special outings.
Nor should they. We have had a really nice December, full of Christmas music, advent calendar activities and treats and meals around the dining room table.
And you know what my kids are really asking for?
Time with me.
Every day Numbers 5, 6, and 7 have said to me, “Mommy, I want some time with you. Will you sit with me?”
And I find myself rushing and saying, “Not right now.”
But not right now turns into not ever.
And I really don’t want to look back on December 26th with regrets.
Because a Pinterest dinner doesn’t really mean all that much to my kids.
It doesn’t mean anything, actually. My kids would be happy eating corn dogs on Christmas Eve if that’s what I gave them.
And I want to be a happy mom for my kids on Christmas (and the days leading up to it). Not a psycho bitch who is flying off the handle and snapping at them constantly.
So I’m keeping everything in perspective.
How am I doing that?
By doing the following things:
1) I ditched the Christmas cards.
All those things I listed before that I haven’t gotten to yet? You’ll notice there is not even a mention of Christmas cards. I gave those up a couple years ago. Too much stress to get the perfect picture, and too much time and money to send them out.
I know there are people who like to still do them. I like to receive them. But I don’t mind getting Christmas cards after Christmas.
Plus, the twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas Day, so you really have until the second week in January to get those out while it’s still technically the Christmas season.
And I have a couple friends who do New Year’s cards now instead of Christmas cards. So if you can’t bear the thought of scrapping them altogether, put them on the back burner until next week when Christmas is over.
2) I keep the wrapping to the bare minimum.
I don’t do bows or ribbons anymore, and I very often skip the labels and just write directly on the wrapping paper with a Sharpie. I also reuse gift bags every year that are in decent enough shape, and I just cover whatever I put in them with some tissue paper. That majorly cuts down on wrapping time.
Today I ran into a friend who told me they don’t even wrap “Santa presents.” Those just go under the tree as is. So that’s a tradition you could start. I know there are some families who just put unwrapped gifts into a bag, and one of the parents just hands them out like Santa. So that’s another option.
I like the element of surprise and the anticipation, so I’m not ready to totally give up the wrapping paper or the bags myself.
3) I ask for help.
I know most of us are overwhelmed this time of year. So finding people to help you can be challenging.
But luckily for me, my parents are both retired, and they live fairly close by. And I am also super fortunate to have a father who enjoys wrapping presents.
So I outsource as much shopping and wrapping to them as possible.
My parents have purchased many of the kids’ gifts for me, and they store them all at their house. I also have most things I order online delivered to their house, too. We started doing this last year since no matter where I hid the presents here at my house, the kids sniffed them out and found them.
4) I’m scaling back the dinner menus.
Sure, it’s great to have a traditional Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner. And breakfast. And lunch.
But sometimes, you just don’t get your sh*t together.
It’s okay to take a shortcut (or three)!
I just learned that ordering Chinese food on Christmas is a thing! Who knew!?! I am seriously considering this for my family for Christmas Eve this year.
5) Remember what really matters.
The perfect tablescape is great. Wrapping your presents with twine and evergreens and Martha Stewart quality ribbons and bows looks beautiful.
And one day I really do hope to have a beautiful table decorated like a Better Homes and Gardens magazine cover.
But it won’t be this year.
Because this year, instead of pouring over Pinterest to find the perfect meal for dinner on Sunday night, instead of wrapping presents to the level of a magazine photo shoot, I’m gonna devote all that time to my kids.
And I’m going to sit with them.
I’ll save the Pinteresty stuff for next year. Or the year after that. Or the year after that.
Or maybe all that stuff will just have to wait for twenty more years when I’m the one who’s a retired grandma.