I have a friend who also has four sons. Hers are a few years younger than mine (I have two at college so I do get a break), but she is really in the thick of it right now. And there is no thicker time with little (and big) boys than during the holidays. And to make it worse, she is struggling with all the “perfect family Christmas moments” she is seeing on social media. I am so glad I got through a large chunk of raising my kids without that kind of pressure. However, I can totally understand how mothers can feel “less than” during Christmas after a long scroll through Facebook.
It seems everyone else is having these wonderfully memorable Christmas moments right now, but for many of us, we’re just trying to make it to bedtime every day.
We see others having cozy, cocoa-drinking times sitting fireside.
We see fun and creative game nights, and snuggling movie nights, and Christmas craft nights.
We see magazine cover worthy family photos used as Christmas cards.
We see all these holidays moments on Facebook, and then we beat ourselves up about the fact we’re not able to do anything like that—whether it be because we’re too tired, we’re single parenting, we don’t have the money for holiday concerts and/or events, or our family’s schedules are too chaotic to even try. Whatever the reason, we entertain motherhood’s greatest lie—we harbor guilt about all of it.
I’m going to tell you what I want to tell my friend.
In the big picture, NONE OF THAT HOLIDAY CRAP MATTERS.
I think my sons are turning out pretty OK, and during the last 20 years of Christmases with them, we never drank freakin’ cocoa together on the couch. EVER. We’re not cozy movie-watching people either. Our idea of a holiday event is driving through the Twistee Treat for $1 ice cream cones, and then circling neighborhood streets with the windows down looking at Christmas lights.
Game nights? If you count huge fights that ended with poker chips and playing cards flying through the air, then yes, we had family game nights. Nobody ever really did crafts with me. We “tried” gingerbread houses for years, but they always looked like a Cat-5 hurricane hit ‘em.
Photo cards? One year I just took a picture of all of the boys asleep and sent that out as our Christmas card.
I have wrapped presents in garbage bags, burned turkeys, yanked the lights off the roof in a rage and thrown them all in the garbage, and one year my tree had a rope around it that was nailed to the wall, because our tree stand had broken.
We’ve pulled into the church parking lot for Christmas Eve Mass all swearing at each other, and my husband and I have had our share of collapsing into bed at night during the holidays and feeling anything but “festive”.
I’m guessing none of those sound like perfect Christmas moments, but you know what?
They were perfectly OURS.
The nailed tree. The meltdown game nights.
They were OURS. THEY ARE OURS.
Your kids don’t need perfect Christmas moments. Chances are they’ll remember the less than perfect ones first, and recall the other forced kind of moments as more of a chore than a fun tradition.
So over the next week, don’t worry if you really lose it, and if some of the wonderful moments you’ve planned just go completely to hell. I promise you it will make a great story one day, a story your kids will be proud and excited to tell.
Just ask my 20-year-old about the nailed tree.
He’ll tell THAT story way before a boring one filled with hot cocoa and movie-watching.