Six years ago I wrote a post entitled To All the Moms At Christmas, and I re-shared it a couple days ago on the NYAM Facebook page.
When I wrote that post the kids were 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 years old.
Everyone believed in Santa.
I was in the thick of parenting young kids and putting a lot of pressure on myself to do all the Christmas things.
At the time I was married but I did all the Christmas stuff. Everything.
I put all the lights up outside, bought all the presents, wrapped all the presents, made gingerbread houses, got the advent calendars, read Christmas books, planned for and got the tickets for the Polar Express, baked Christmas cookies, got the Christmas pajamas, took the kids on drives to see Christmas displays, did crafts with the kids, planned special Christmas breakfasts, decorated the house, and completely wore myself out.
I was exhausted from doing too much and I was resentful AF that I was doing everything, every year, by myself.
When I think back to my childhood, I have some awesome Christmas memories.
And you know what?
None of them include Christmas cookies or crafts or gingerbread houses or Polar Express rides or Christmas pajamas or super creative Christmas cards or tons of lights outside or tons of decorations inside.
There weren’t crafts or Grinch kabobs or fruit pizza Christmas wreaths or strawberry Santas or red velvet pancakes or Christmas tree waffles.
My mom wasn’t into any of that stuff.
It’s enough work to go shopping and buy presents for your family.
There were lots of things that were special about Christmastime back then for me.
Like checking the TV Guide and you knew when Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch and The Year Without A Santa Claus and A Charlie Brown Christmas were gonna be on and you didn’t miss that shit because if you did you had to wait another year to watch it.
That was pretty special.
I have a few other great Christmas memories.
I remember being in the Christmas pageant at church and being excited about it.
I remember my brother and I finally getting an Atari and playing Space Invaders on Christmas day until we got blisters on our thumbs from the joysticks.
We had big, awesome, Norman Rockwellian Christmases at my great grandmother’s house – we literally walked through the woods to get to her house – with my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.
I remember the Christmas my Great Aunt Carol – my one aunt who never got married or had kids and lived a glamourous Sex in the City life – gave me my first eyeshadow palette. My cousin and I dipped the sponge applicator in water so we could really cake that stuff onto our eyelids.
We thought we looked pretty gorgeous but we really looked like we had gone a couple rounds with Mike Tyson.
My mom was horrified.
I remember Uncle Dom falling asleep in one chair after we were all done with dinner while Uncle George fell asleep in the other while Nanny watched Lawrence Welk from the couch and waited for someone to bring her dinner to her TV tray.
Everything was simple.
And it was special because it only happened once a year.
I’m not sure when or how the Christmas bar got raised higher and higher and higher.
I totally got sucked in.
I put so much pressure on myself to make things AMAZING.
But the reality is when you make everything amazing, then nothing is amazing.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer isn’t special anymore because you can watch it 24/7/365 days a year.
The more things we add into the holiday, the less special it becomes.
At least for me.
I no longer extra in the Christmas department.
I like decorating my house, so I do that.
I like watching Christmas movies with the kid so I do that.
I still do the advent calendar every year because the kids really love it and I’ve totally simplified that (mostly with candy from the Dollar Store).
I think you should do whatever you enjoy doing.
If it brings you joy, then do it.
But if it’s wearing you out and making it impossible to be present with your kids, if it’s making you resentful or angry, if you are doing things that nobody even appreciates or notices and getting really pissed about it, you can stop.
The first sentence in that post I wrote six years ago was:
My aunt always used to say that Christmas is a woman’s holiday.
What I know now is that we women have made Christmas a woman’s holiday.
We have put all the pressure on ourselves.
We have convinced ourselves we need to do it all.
We are so worried about things being perfect that we don’t delegate anything to anyone.
We often require nothing of our spouses.
We get mad at them for not contributing but we have created that routine.
By making everything special we have made nothing special and we have also run ourselves into the ground.
That’s not what this season is about.
It’s really not.
We’ve gotten things twisted around. We’re making it harder and harder for this time of year to be special.
And we’re making it next to impossible to enjoy it ourselves.
As one reader commented,
I saw a post that showed a picture of the manger in the barn which said “The first Christmas was pretty simple – yours can be too”. Amen to that.
Amen to that.
Kathleen Mastrodonato says
I totally agree with this. It’s so exhausting. Major changes coming next Christmas & never doing this craziness again. Simplify!! Merry 🌲 Christmas to you and your family
I agree totally – I remember Christmas being so magical, but it was so much simpler. Coloured lights on a tree in the dark, a simple stocking that was a large sock not a sack, with an orange in foil and some sweets in the toe!
I grew up in the UK and we only had three TV channels then – no way I would have missed any kid’s Christmas movie, it was a huge treat! I’m trying not to feel any guilt about the things I haven’t done this year & just trying to make sure the things I do manage will be done with love. I know my kids will be happier if we aren’t stressed to the hilt & that’s what counts.
My favourite memory is the time I got crafty all by myself when I was about four years old, and hung the results of my handiwork on the tree. Tampons dunked in multi coloured poster paints rendered my parents speechless! It was a few years before I understood why. 😂
not your average mom says
omg – I would save those tampornaments forever 😂😂😂