Embracing Holiday Imperfection

In the past 6 weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty about what I’ve done, or not done, in the birthday and holiday department for my boys. Dyl’s birthday was on Thanksgiving. We opted to not do a party in lieu of doing a special movie day with his BFF. Today is December 28th and I haven’t scheduled that date yet.

Christmas fast approached and both parents were overwhelmed at work. We are still adjusting to the move and unpacking. I just feel like we didn’t use our limited energy to make holiday magic for our boys. Going into Christmas Eve, I started to feel incredibly guilty.

  • The weekend I wanted to hang up lights and decorate outside the house, I was sick on the couch for 2 days.
  • I didn’t do the holiday visit to NYC with the kids. I even won a free room at a Times Square hotel in NYC, even booked it for a Sunday night in December, only to be overwhelmed by work and financial obligations and cancel.
  • We didn’t do the town tree lighting and parade because…well, we were exhausted and it was cold out.
  • We did do the wonderful holiday light parade in Niantic, but the 10 yr old spent the entire time telling me how cold and boring it was and he’d rather be anywhere else in the world. Thankfully, his grandpa was in the same mindset, so they went back to the house together and Grandma, D-man and I got to enjoy it.
  • We didn’t do cookie cutter baking with the boys. My only cookie making was Lo and I packing it into an afternoon by ourselves.
  • We accepted an offer for a free tree from my in-laws from their backyard and ended up with this :

We let my father-in-law cut it down, bag it up and put it on our roof. Lo and I laughed the entire ride back home and had “tree envy” for all of the full trees on other cars along the way home. Dyl just cried about how ugly it was. After a day of having the tree, we did go out and get one that was a little fuller.

  • I decorated the tree without having a fireplace going or Christmas music blasting. And one of the boys had ZERO interest in decorating at all.
  • When we did put the mismatched tree up, our first real tree in their lifetimes (over Lo’s objections), the tree sagged throughout it’s time in the home no matter what we did and ornaments would just fall off and crash/break, many times in the middle of the night.
  • Even though we do have those ridiculous Elves on the Goddamn Shelves, ours moved most of the time but didn’t do a single thing except for the morning of Christmas Eve, a box appear with their Christmas pajamas (unmatching and not Christmas-sy). But both boys were at sleepovers and delivering the PJs to them later in the day was a little anticlimactic.

  • We did not do matching Christmas pajamas or shirts.
  • Our family Christmas has dwindled in size since my siblings are now spread out and Lois’ family has drama. So, instead of a huge full house at Christmas, we just had both sets of grandparents.


Now, our boys are 8 and 10 (almost 11). I’m pretty sure they still believe in Santa. The older one may not believe but he’s certainly not going to tell us right now. So, we did our best on Christmas to pull off the Santa visit. We left out milk and cookies for Santa and put the boys to bed. As we waited for the energy to slow down and them to go completely out, we started planning how we were going to get outside to the minivan and get all of the presents out, including an IKEA desk, without making any noise in the CREAKIEST HOUSE I’VE EVER LIVED IN!

My 8 year old left his stuffed animal on the couch with a special note for Santa to fix a 5 inch rip in the seam….omg. I had to find a sewing kit (I suck at sewing) somewhere in our house at 11 pm!

But, in the end, Christmas was PERFECT. We spent some quiet time home with the boys leading up to the holiday. Lo and I let the stress of the house unpacking, money, work, Christmas perfection, etc. go by the wayside for a time and enjoyed each other’s company. And…

We pulled Christmas off. They woke up Christmas morning absolutely gleeful. They made out like bandits but it was more than that. They talked about Santa, they played incredibly (and unusually) well with each other. And it was wonderful to have my parents and her parents, comfortable with each other and getting to share the Christmas excitement with their grandsons.

In the days following Christmas, we got to spend time with a close family member who is in recovery and looking great! And in the past few days, K (one of Lo’s twins) came into town on her break from being oversees with the USAF. It was low key and comfortable. She has had a slightly imperfect trip but we’re hanging and making the best of everything.  And seeing her being entertained by the boys and watching them get along like stepsiblings was so heartwarming.

This year hasn’t been super easy. We’ve struggled with change and with each other. But, we’ve been reminded that life isn’t always pretty. It can be rough and a little messy, but there are moments in there that matter far more than the mess. We are not a house that is great at making things picture perfect or wonderfully magical. But we are a house where everyone feels at home, even if it’s mismatched. It’s a laid back comfort and joy. That’s what makes it perfect for us!

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