The Happiest of Holidays are Not Perfectby Elizabeth MacDonald
We have entered the holiday countdown in our home, and I am your typical Type A mom. I come from a long line of mothers who liked to paint the holiday canvas as perfection to the viewer’s eye. I won’t lie, I have struggled with this myself; after all, it’s hard to break the habits you were born in to.
I have five beautiful babies, and it seems that I have become freer after each one was born. I have learned to let go and just be present in the moments, as they are all too fleeting. Again, my Type A-ness still shines through with my list making, decorating, and meal planning. I have learned though, that these traits are part of who I am, and allowing for a little wiggle room in my plans is the goal; a total overhaul is not needed.
The one thing that I have learned from my own past – and my current place in life, is that the holidays are not about the image of perfection. In fact, the happiest of holiday celebrations are not perfect. Don’t get me wrong, if you absolutely love the Norman Rockwell version of the holidays, GO FOR IT. I just want to help other moms realize that there’s no real reason to strive for that. Our babies want to be with us, not watching us rush around. They want to be a part of the traditions, not watching them like a movie.
So how can you simplify and ensure that you experience all of the happiness this season? I am so glad you asked:
- Talk about the holidays before the decorations go up: It can be overwhelming for kids to watch Christmas unfold from 10 boxes all at once. Create a plan together about the ‘vision’ and include your little ones in the decorating; they can use a stool, hang things at their level, decorate their rooms, etc. (I personally enjoy a trip to the nearest $1 type store for some of these decorations that I don’t mind trashing in a few weeks.)
Invite guests for a potluck dinner celebration: While this may seem like work, and it does sort of require a bit of clean-up, THIS IS THE HAPPINESS. Let kids play with all.the.things while the grown-ups enjoy adult beverages and delicious foods. It is not fancy, nor is it a huge party, just a family or two to share a meal and memories with. (You can do this once a week throughout the season, inviting a different family each time.)
- Be real with your kids: Money does not grow on trees, and lists should not be 3 pages long. Talk about the process of narrowing things down and crossing items off. Use it as an opportunity to show your children the world and differentiate between materialism and true happiness.
Volunteer together: This does not need to be an actual organized event. You can clean up the trash from the neighborhood playground; watch a friend’s kids while she gets things done. It’s about spreading love and letting your children take part.
Choose an angel from the tree: If you have anything to spare, please donate a gift to an angel tree angel.
- Order gifts for non-local family and friends online to avoid the post office.
Drink wine while wrapping gifts: DUH. Wine makes everything happier.
Drop the competition: There is no magic prize for the best gift-wrapper or pie decorator. Pour your love into what you are doing and the recipients will feel it.
Exchange a gift with a girlfriend: Set a $25 budget and enjoy shopping for someone that you choose to have in your life.
- Blast Christmas music and SING!
- Stick with simple menus and baking: This is not the time to experiment. What worked last year? What are some of your family’s favorite dishes? (Make sure you freeze all the leftovers)
- Keep the magic alive: There is a certain magic that surrounds Christmas. Whether your children believe an actual Santa comes to bring presents, or they have outgrown the tradition, there is so much more to it all. The true story of Santa and the charity and magic behind the history of him are enough to keep everyone believing.
Overall, make sure you are happy this season. Take time to breathe; try not to over book yourself, and be kind to yourself as well as others.