Ah, the holidays. The cookies, decorations, family, and holiday magic. What is there not to love? Well, if you’re a Mom, it’s not that you don’t love it. It’s just that it is the most-wonderful-but-also-hella-stressful time of the year. From the moment the clock strikes twelve on November 1st, full holiday mode hits. I mean, no, we might not run out to the stores right that moment, but the never-ending to-do list starts piling up and feels like it will never end.
What’s worse? We’re heading into yet another holiday season amid the pandemic (oh joy.) So the pressure to make it extra magical, wondrous, and special for our littles is more draining than usual. I know, I know, I’m sounding like a grinch right about now. It is just all so damn exhausting. Because honestly, the majority of the shopping, the wrapping, the holiday magic, even that damn Elf-on-the-Shelf-ing falls on us. Of course, on top of work, child-chasing, and our regularly scheduled program.
Burning yourself out to the point where you have no holly-jolly energy left to share with those you love is so 2019. So to all my magic-makers, consider this a reminder to set some limits, ask for a helping hand, and give yourself some grace. Because momma, you deserve happy holidays too.
Holiday Magic Doesn’t Mean Always Saying Yes
When I was growing up, my mom would have an annual cookie extravaganza. She’d make dozens and dozens of cookies. Enough for Christmas, two Christmas Eves, three holiday parties, four children’s classrooms, and a partridge in a pear tree. Y’all, it was a lot of frickin’ baking. And did she do it all from scratch? Of course she did (including that buttercream frosting). And yes, we absolutely loved it! So naturally, I carry on the tradition.
Do you understand how many bags of flour go into making enough sugar cutout cookies to feed a small village? Or how hard it is to find a balance between letting little people unleash their creativity (in frosting) all over your kitchen and having a few cookies that are presentable enough to take outside of the house? It is supposed to be fun, damn it! But I’m telling you, the overwhelming nature of the whole debacle certainly isn’t the holiday magic I remember creating when I was small.
So instead of throwing my hands up in their air and canceling altogether, or keeping my head down and trying with all my might to not freak the fuck out, I changed things up a little. Y’all … there is pre-made cookie dough. And, some of it is already cut out and frozen into delightful holiday shapes. Better yet, did you know you could buy already baked plain sugar cookies?! The genius, I tell you! As for that frosting, call me Betty Crocker because I’m about to buy out the shelf.
While I adore my mom and how special she made everything for us, it doesn’t mean my minions won’t have just as wonderful a time if I don’t make everything from scratch. And since I’m hosting, if someone asks if they can bring something, I don’t have to lie and say nope, it’s all covered. They won’t think less of me just because I cave and ask them to bring some sprinkles. Accepting a helping hand doesn’t take away from the holiday magic. In fact, it’ll likely make it more magical for you. It is okay to deviate and adjust from the plan. If it helps you get through without pulling your hair out, chances are you might even have enough time to enjoy yourself.
Have Some Grace, Especially For Yourself
The holidays are magical, but they also can be intense. There is gift buying to be done and schedules to keep track of and performances to attend. It’s a whirlwind. And then suddenly, it’s January 2nd, and it’s all over. You’re left wondering, wait, how did I miss it all? It’s not that you missed it. You were just always thinking two steps ahead and unable to be present in the moments that are the most magical of all.
You know, ever since Elf on the Shelf became a thing, I’ve been solely responsible for making ours move from point A to point B. It makes zero sense to me, but my littles love it. They think it’s hilarious to see her face first in my morning coffee mug (sans coffee, of course). They laugh like hyenas when she’s found swinging from the pantry door with marshmallows everywhere. But the moment I knew something about our relationship had to change (the elf and I, that is) was when I forgot to move her.
Of course, I’m up earlier than the girls, and they were none the wiser — but y’all, I had a small breakdown. How could you not move the elf?! You have one job (that’s a damn lie). Don’t be the reason everything gets ruined! A little overdramatic? Yes, yes, I was. But it was how I felt deep down in my soul. To avoid another meltdown of epic proportions in the following years, we changed the story. Twelve days before Christmas, the elf leaves. She has to go back to the shop and help work, so she leaves a 12-day countdown calendar (last year it was socks) as a surprise instead of random acrobatics every morning. Is it too much? Maybe. But it helps this momma keep her sanity.
You know, the tale is as old as time. Once the holidays hit, mom tends to lose her shit. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and we all can only handle so much. There is only so much holly-jolly energy to go around. And damn it, it’s time moms get to enjoy it every bit as much as everyone else. So please, as this holiday season swiftly approaches, don’t feel like you have to do it all. And don’t feel like things won’t be absolutely wonderful just because they aren’t totally perfect.
Guess what? Those who love you the most won’t notice, but they will remember you being there and enjoying it all together.