In our house we look forward to Christmas so much, the time off together, our family traditions of driving through the lights, special meals, time with family, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. But in the last decade or so, probably with the huge impact of social media, Christmas has become a huge stinking deal, and not for the good reasons. I don’t know about you, but I don’t look forward to Christmas to plan something crazy for every single day, I look forward to the slow down, to snuggles, yummy food, sleeping in and staying home (we are basically hermits from time to time). Sometimes you can cram pack so many expectations into the Christmas season that you end up dreading it, from the events you are not so excited about attending, to the gifts you feel obligated to buy that don’t mean anything to you. Christmas can just make you feel weary, which is pretty much the opposite of how you’re supposed to feel during the most joyous time of year.
I have mixed feelings about the Elf on the Shelf. Cole came home from Kindergarten and told me “Did you know that some kids in my class have an ELF that comes to their house during Christmas and WATCHES THEM?? That is so weird!”. Whew. We have dogs, and I can only imagine what kind of wicked tug of war they would do with an Elf on the Shelf, while we were sleeping, especially if the Elf pranks involved some kind of snacks. So thankfully no Elf for our household. I have such fond memories of baking and decorating sugar cookies at Christmas with my own mom, but Cole really only enjoys eating them, not decorating them. We don’t go to any fancy Christmas parties, so I can post fancy Christmas party pictures on IG. And we rarely travel at Christmas, because I crave that down time at home together for the holidays. But I do enjoy looking at the pictures of my friends who do travel during Christmas. I do not feel the pressure to make everything perfect, but I do admire those mamas who seem to be killing it at Christmas. I hope they are also getting some rest and enjoying some self care.
My point is that Christmas, for us, is what we make it. You don’t have to do alllll the things to be a good mama. Your kids won’t remember if the tree was perfectly decorated, they will remember the snuggles you spent on the couch, watching a funny Christmas movie, in front of the lit Christmas tree (that thought makes me want to sigh with happiness). Cole loves going to pick up pizza (a treat for us, since we rarely eat out) and driving through the lights for the 100th time, singing Christmas songs at the top of our lungs. And he also remembers the candlelight Christmas Eve service every year, I think because I let him hold a candle, but also because it’s always such a sweet service. Our mamas didn’t have that pressure of making everything perfect, and I have such fond memories of driving around to look at the lights (while my dad drove and we all went to sleep), special meals with family, and while I loved the magic of Christmas morning, much like my own little elf, I always loved giving gifts to the people I loved, even then. There’s something so special about watching someone open the gift you put so much love and thought into purchasing or making. And who does not remember the Christmas performances you probably gave at your church and your school? All so special, and not very material at all.
If you feel like all of those Christmas commitments are making you feel busy, crazy and rushed, just say no. You don’t have to make hand decorated cookies for that work party, and take all your dogs in matching sweaters to get their picture made at PetCo (but if you do I wanna see it!!) to make your Christmas special. You don’t have to wrap your gifts in perfectly coordinated wrapping paper, although it looks nice! For us, Christmas is less about what you get for Christmas, and so much more about the people you get to spend time with (and furry friends, our pets love having us home too). Ask your babies their favorite Christmas tradition with you, and I am betting you it’s related to TIME spent together, instead of something material. We played outside in the middle of the day today, and laughed together, and it was something special. So order your little family a pizza, bake some cookies from pre-made cookie dough, and settle in, in front of your Christmas tree to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas special, and relish the time you have together this season.