The holidays are a special time. A time to be thankful, to revel in the joy sparkling in our children’s eyes and a reason to spend precious moments with the ones we hold dear. The memories we make hold an extraordinary place in a family’s history. From quirky celebrations to Grandma’s famous cinnamon roll recipe, the holidays are meant to bring us together and form traditions in which we will remember for all our days.
So often, however, moms find themselves struggling at the holidays. Struggling to give our children the perfect yuletide glee, wrapping endless amount of plastic toys, over-scheduling and overdoing. At the end of it all, we don’t feel #blessed. We feel thankful for all we have, but also tired and sometimes a tad resentful.
I sometimes wonder where the simplicity of the season has gone. A time where wish lists were not 50 items long, droves of people did not elbow one another for $5 off a big screen TV and the spirit of the season was more about giving back to the community rather than receiving.
Perhaps if I were to ask my Mom and Grandma, they would say there were no simpler times. They would probably affirm moms have been overworked and under-appreciated at the holidays since Santa was invented, all in an effort to make it perfect for our children.
For these reasons, I am promising this year’s holiday will be different.
I promise to slow down.
We do not have to rush to every celebration of merriment. Tree lightings, parties, Christmas movie spectaculars and multiple Santa encounters can be wonderful but not ALL are necessary. The crowds, endless lines, and sweat-inducing juggling of children often make the experience less than merry. This year, we will choose our favorite activities and attend with enthusiasm. If we miss one because the snuggles on the couch are just too cozy, that is perfectly acceptable and will provide the same (or perhaps even more) joy. We will slow the hustle and bustle in order to experience the moments we are trying to capture, take a second to really see each other and pause to make sure we remember.
I promise to not make it all about the stuff.
My children are very young, and the idea of giving rather than receiving has not quite sunk in yet. Shiny new toys wrapped under the tree make them giddy, and who can blame them? This year I promise to make it about more. By helping them make and pick out presents for teachers and grandparents, I hope to show them the beauty and fun in giving. And by taking the time to provide for those in need, I hope their tiny hearts will fill with pride and empathy. The season should be more about the experience than the price tags after all.
I promise to focus on making memories and traditions rather than trying to do it all.
The pressure of the season is no joke for us moms. We have a lot on our plate already, and adding to the to-do list with school party sign-ups, holiday cards, cookies with Santa and shopping and wrapping presents for what seems like 50 people can strip the joy right out of it all. This holiday season I am throwing in the towel. You know what is perfectly acceptable to give to any adult on your list? Gift cards. You know how to make school parties easier? Buy the store-bought cookies. I want to focus less on the things and the endless lists, and more about taking an entire afternoon to bake one batch of Christmas candies with my children, eating most out of the bowl before they even make it to the oven. I want to walk in to the school party rested, knowing I didn’t spend all night making gluten-free treats. I promise to embrace the traditions our family loves, and if other things must fall by the wayside, I will know it’s because I chose myself and my children over trying to please everyone else.
I promise to participate, rather than observe from behind the camera of my smart phone. This is a hard one. Capturing the memories feels so important. The smile on their faces, the adorable outfits, I want to remember it all. It seems as if the only way I will is if I photograph the moment. I won’t be able to quit cold turkey, but this year I want to put the camera down and simply be. Hold them in my lap as they open their first present. I know I’ll remember the way that feels and appreciate it more than the photograph stuck in an album or somewhere in the cloud of photo abyss.
I promise to appreciate the season of life we are in. We are in the stage of life where things are messy, chaotic, sleep schedules are necessary and meal times consist of more being thrown on the floor than put in mouths. We are not yet able to pick up and go at a moment’s notice. Driving for any amount of time can be painful. And it’s OK. There will be a time where we will look back longing for the early bed times and the sweet snuggles. Things will get easier, but in the mean time it’s fine to be the ones leaving early from the party. It is perfectly acceptable to decline hosting dinner because it seems too overwhelming. Tis the season as they say, and this year I will revel in it.
I promise to believe in the magic of the season.
The holidays ARE truly magical. They are magical in the way they bring communities and families together. The hope it brings in good times and in bad, the smiles we see stretched across our children’s faces as they watch the tree go up, the hearts that race on Christmas Eve, these are the moments that count. I promise to participate in it all, trust in the goodness that surrounds us and believe in all the wonder.
This is the year to make it count, and I promise to do so.