I loved Christmas as a kid. The second Halloween was over, I’d get my list ready for Santa and craft and hang homemade decorations on my bedroom window. Putting up our tree was one of the highlights of my year. Christmas mornings at our house were magical. We woke up extra early because my dad usually had to work on Christmas, but that was fine because I was always awake all night anyway. Then, we’d go to my grandparents and do it all over again. It was all about family, friends and the joy of the season.

And then I became an adult and started to see the holiday in a different light.

I started to notice the insane commercialism that drives people to spend more and more, some beyond their means. I started to feel the expectations for me to purchase gifts for everyone from my kid’s bus driver to my boss. Let’s not forget how crazy people are around this time of year—every weekend after Halloween makes going to the local department store for a few necessities like a scene from The Walking Dead—complete chaos. Don’t even get me started on people who put up their trees before the snow even starts to fly! 

Needless to say, I’ve become jaded about the holiday. While I still love the idea of Christmas and what it is supposed to stand for, the version that modern day culture celebrates is too much for me. I’m a real-life female version of the Grinch—the one at the beginning of the movie.

But now, I’m also a mom. I want my kids to experience the magic of Christmas like I did as a kid, but that’s hard when I’m more Grinch than Santa. So, here are some ways I’m going to try to get into the spirit this holiday season that you might find helpful, too:

  1. Don’t try to keep up. Forget about what your friend is buying her kids or who has already done their layaway weeks ago. Shop and spend at a rate and speed that’s right for you and your family. If you can afford the expensive electronic for your husband, then buy it for him. If you can’t, then think of something else I’m sure he’ll love just as much. Keep in mind that while it is wonderful to give presents to those important people in your life, it is not worth struggling the rest of year to go all out. 
  2. Try to remember why we celebrate. You might be religious, you might not be; either way December is a big month for celebrating for many faiths. We all worship and see the world in our own unique ways, which is absolutely wonderful and is part of what makes this big, wide world so amazing, but there is an undeniable feeling in the air this time of year regardless of what you believe. Many people are happier, kinder, and more generous toward their fellow man during the holiday season, so try to be a part of that energy. Try to remember why you celebrate, whether it’s just a family tradition or celebrating the birth of Jesus, hone in on that and use it as your basis for celebrating. 
  3. See the holiday through a child’s eyes. Remember those magical Christmas mornings I mentioned above? Those are what I will remember when the holiday grumps start to creep in. I will remember my mom catching me before I came out of my bedroom door so I didn’t see my dad putting the presents under the tree from Santa. I will remember my grandmother’s giant Christmas tree and the pride she took in hanging the stockings with all of her grandchildren’s names on them. I’ll remember looking up at the sky on Christmas Eve and looking for the big guy in the sky. That is what I will focus on—that feeling of wonder, the same wonder that I now see in my own children’s eyes.
  4. Do something good for humankind. I know a lot of people only volunteer around this time of year, but isn’t it better than not at all? Help out at a community meal, take your kids to visit a nursing home, or simply donate a toy to a child in need. Do something that’s good for your soul. Yes, it’d be better to do this all year long, but if you are struggling to get through this time of year this one will make you smile. It feels darn good to do something nice for someone else with no expectation of them reciprocating.
  5. Keep in mind it won’t last forever. Arguably most people would say the season lasts from the first day of November until mid-January. Yes, that’s over two months, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. Most of us are so busy attending holiday parties, shopping, volunteering and whatnot that time really can just fly by. If this isn’t your favorite time of year, just keep that in mind. It really will be over before you know it!

Some people adore this time of year. My mom, for one, starts playing Christmas music at the beginning of November, and sometimes I am curious how I came out of her body. Although I may be more of a Halloween gal, I can still see the positives of the holiday season and I want my boys to see me enjoying it as much as my parents did when I was a kid. I want them to have awesome Christmas memories that they will hopefully pass down to their own kids someday. For them, I can take off my Mrs. Grinch mask and put on my Mrs. Claus one instead.

Britt LeBoeuf

Britt is a married mother of two from northern New York. She has an undergraduate degree in Human Services. When she's not chasing down her two young children, she writes for sites such as Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Filter Free Parents and Sammiches and Psych Meds. Check out her first published book, "Promises of Pineford" on Amazon too. On her blog, These Boys of Mine, she talks about parenting only boys, special needs parenting, mental health advocacy, being a miscarriage survivor and life as a crazy cat lady.