My seven-year-old son said to me, “Mom, I can’t wait for Christmas Eve. It’s just so fun.” I felt a stress ball forming in the pit of my stomach. I replied, “I know, it’s so fun.”
Every Christmas Eve, our family goes to St. Paul to celebrate with my husband’s family. The kids get together to perform a Christmas play. They also can walk to the sledding hill on their own. They are growing up. Family members are known to break out guitars and sing carols, too.
Dan’s sisters and mom often make homemade ravioli. My family always made homemade manicotti (pronounced mon-i-goat) so I do love an Italian Christmas Eve. And my sister-in-law says she loves hosting the event.
Still I’m stressed. As moms, we do everything we can to make Christmas Eve and Day a wonderful family time. We think we can make everyone happy. We can’t. They will be happy for most of the time and melt down at some point. None of it will be any fault of ours.
Moms, we need to look at Christmas more like our children. We need to let go and let Christmas.
Instead, we think of all the things that need to get done to celebrate Christmas and uphold our traditions: buy gifts, wrap gifts, make 10 dozen Christmas cookies, send 50 Christmas cards with super cute family photos, deck the halls, trim a tree, grocery shop multiple times, plan and prepare feasts. And attend two Christmas programs, a band concert, and a company holiday party. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
With all due respect, Santa Claus is not the busiest person in the world come December. The busiest person this month is Mom.
So Moms, take a cue from Santa. Get help. Santa has a workshop of elves and eight tiny reindeer to pull his sleigh. You don’t have to be superwoman in a minivan.
Pull your Elf on the Shelf trump card. Get your kids to help out. After all, Santa only brings gifts to good girls and boys. Usually Santa only brings one special toy, along with a couple board games and items that require no batteries or skill. Uno and Sorry come to mind.
When your kids grow up, they will only remember a few toys. Thomas the Train, the Dora doll that twirled and sang “Baile, Baile” and My Little Pony Tropical Island.
On Christmas day, your kids may only be happy for a short time. Then there will be the Christmas meltdown. Thomas will derail; Dora won’t dance on carpet; and My Little Pony won’t surf the wave.
By now, Santa is in his recliner, beer in hand, bowl game on TV and Mrs. Claus is making dinner. And you, Mom, are left to deal with Christmas letdown, packaging debris (which will never fit in the garbage can) and cookie crashes.
Moms, please let your husbands help you this holiday season. They would be happy to help if we could just tell them what needs to be done before crunch time. I usually cue my husband by snapping at him a few days before Christmas. He would appreciate it if I would make a list like Santa so he could help me check off each item.
Remember, you don’t have to do it all. So what if you don’t bake 10 dozen cookies? Take a few shortcuts. A kind neighbor or coworker may drop off a platter in the nick of time. There are always plenty of gifts, food and beverages.
Now if only I can take my own advice. If I do, the seasonal stress will be replaced with the fun and wonder my children bring to Christmas. Let go and let Christmas.
Marie Wood is associate editor of The Land. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.