This year, I’m not doing it. I am not going to shove my way through the mall or stay up all night tracking down the best deals. I am not going peek over my friends’ shoulders and see what they are getting for their kids or how many Christmas trees they are putting on display this year (because one just isn’t enough anymore). I’m not going to go into debt to buy my kids the “next big thing.”
I’m not doing it.
My kids don’t need a bunch of plastic crap or cheap candy this holiday season. They don’t need all the hottest toys or latest electronics. And more importantly, I don’t need to walk around wanting to tear my hair out because my kids played with something for exactly two minutes before they got tired of it and never wanted to see it again, and then I am left feeling claustrophobic because I wanted to make sure they had “enough.”
I refuse to be stressed before, during, and after the holidays in some quest to provide the “perfect” holiday for my kids.
I’ve been through 14 holiday seasons as a mother, and I know this: The more my kids get, the more distracted they are. The more distracted they are, the faster they break down, the whinier and brattier they become. The whinier they become, the more shit I lose trying to tell them they should feel thankful for all the crap they just got. And nothing quite kills the holiday spirit like whiny kids and mom losing her shit, let me tell you.
That’s not how I want to spend the most wonderful time of the year. It’s just not worth it, and it never works out for anyone.
That doesn’t mean it’s easy to resist the pre-holiday hoopla. The struggle is real, folks. It’s easy to get caught up in the toy section and Pinterest and overdo the holidays. The holiday overload comes from a good place though. I just get caught up in my own nostalgia and want my kids to know how much I love them.
But this year, I refuse to break my back — or my bank account — trying to get everything on their list.
This year, I’m giving my family the gift of a stress-free mother. This isn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve finally learned my lesson.
Note to self: I will stop myself when I feel the need to do all the things to create some type of manufactured magic. Instead, we are going to focus on things they will remember instead of material things they can hold in their hands.
We are going to donate.
We are going to donate food to the local food pantry for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are going to send money to the animal shelter and St. Jude Children’s Hospital. We are going to go down to our local country store and each child is going to grab a name off the tree and pick out a gift to drop off. This is something we’ve done since they were tiny, and each year it leaves us all feeling warm and fuzzy.
We are going to craft.
Nothing will turn out how we want it to and we will make a mess, but who cares. I love getting out the glitter and the glue and watching my kids get lost in something other than their iPhones.
We are going to drive around and look at the Christmas lights.
There have been years we’ve skipped this because I had “too much to do.” Not this year. There is nothing more fun than throwing my kids in the car, hitting the drive-thru for a hot cocoa, and going for a nice drive and watching the neighbors try to outdo each other with their grand light displays.
We are going to bake.
I’m going to crack open the recipe box and make cookies that my mom made for us when we were little because her mom made them for her when she was little. Then we are going to put them in pretty little containers and send them to friends and family.
We are going to watch all the movies.
In our jammies, eating popcorn, and drinking eggnog. I don’t care if we watch Elf forty-five times. The sound of my kids laughing when Buddy beats up Santa is priceless.
I will get them each a few special gifts, knowing it will mean more to them than trying to fill in the gaps by buying a bunch of stuff just to make a statement.
If they want to give their friends a gift, we are going to make something. I have a Pinterest board, and I’m not afraid to use it.
So this year, we are going to dial it down, live in the moment, and not fill our calendar up with shopping and gift wrapping. My kids aren’t going to get everything they want and spend hours opening gifts Christmas morning.
We are going to give to others and remember that true joy is not found in a pretty package. It’s about spending time with those we love. Happiness is when you are able to share your gifts. It’s that feeling we get when we help others.
And no amount of expensive plastic crap can make my kids feel as good as having traditions and special memories they will always remember. I just wish I would have come to this realization much sooner.