This mother at Christmas is…
As a working mother with a very full schedule, I do not get anything checked off of my “Christmas To Do List” until after Thanksgiving. From Black Friday until Christmas Eve, however, I run at full speed, filling our month with Christmas-themed activities, shopping, wrapping, baking, and celebrating. We take the youngest on a ride to the North Pole on a local steam train. We take them all into New York City to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree as well as other decorations and Christmas attractions. We drive around looking at lights. We spend an entire day baking cookies. I order, address, and mail cards. We attend holiday parties. We watch Christmas movies. We go to rehearsals for our church’s pageant. We wrap and deliver presents. We read every Christmas book in our house…twice. And, of course, I find time to move the
stupid adorable Elf every night. All this is done while I continue to work my usual schedule and conduct our normally busy lives.
I really love the Christmas season. I’m thrilled to have an excuse to spend more time with family I love. I look forward to watching my children enjoy the season, the fun, and the gifts. As the month unfolds, I get more and more excited for the upcoming days that are always filled with smiles, laughter, food, and fun. Even in the middle of the busy I just described, my daughters’ excitement is simply infectious.
There are not enough days and hours in the season to get everything done without sacrificing some sleep. There are not enough weekends to get in all of the Christmas activities and events so downtime is always limited. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, errands to run, and presents to be wrapped. For me the wrapping is the most exhausting. I save all of the wrapping until the weekend before Christmas. That Saturday night, you are guaranteed to find me wrapping presents late into the night, fueled on coffee (and then wine) as I watch sentimental Christmas movies. By the time I’ve wrapped the last present I’m usually in tears—either from the movie or from pure exhaustion. I never really know.
I think most parents work very hard during the Christmas season to do everything perfectly. The Elf on the Shelf alone stresses me out more than an inanimate object really should. Every night (if I remember) I search my house looking for a new, exciting place to stash her. I look at pictures of friends’ elves doing complicated, creative things and I feel inadequate since our elf is, “not that magical” as one daughter so aptly put it. My list of “must do” Christmas activities is way too long and we never get it all in and I feel guilty when one daughter’s request doesn’t fit into our limited time. My children’s Christmas lists of desired toys and gifts are long and I simply cannot afford to buy it all while also buying gifts for all of the other amazing people in my life. With every swipe of my credit card, my stomach clenches as I think of the money that is quickly leaving my bank account. I try very hard to give myself a break during the holiday season but there are always some stressful moments that are unavoidable.
There is no time during the year when I feel more blessed and joyful than at Christmas. On Christmas Eve, I attend our church’s children’s pageant and then mass. My children always participate and as I listen to the music and watch them recreate the reason for this season in their prettiest Christmas attire I finally find some peace. My heart practically explodes with joy on Christmas morning as I watch my happy, rumpled girls clad in pajamas and bathrobes delight in new toys or gifts that they had been asking for. At some point during the chaos I always catch my husband’s eyes, smile, and revel in the joy that is my little family. Christmas Day is often a child’s favorite day and my happiness comes from theirs.
This mother at Christmas may feel as if she has been put through the emotional wringer by December 26th…but I wouldn’t ever want that to change. Enjoy the holiday, everyone!