Dear sweet, exhausted mama,

Take a moment, right now—a break from the hustle and bustle. Stop and close your eyes, while you contemplate this.

Do your little ones need perfectly sculpted garland, adorning the staircase with delicate lights?

Do they need an outdoor display that would make the Griswolds envious?

Do they need freshly baked cookies and treats with enough glittery sprinkles to smother an elf?

Do they need carefully wrapped presents that look ready for a Bloomingdale’s window display?

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Do they need to take a gift to every single teacher?

Do they really need coordinating Christmas dresses and family pajamas?

No. They don’t. Not really.

All those things are truly wonderful.

They help give the holidays a certain, unmatched splendor that lingers magically in our memories for the rest of our lives.

But at what cost? A tired, frazzled mom with no energy left to put into the things that really matter? A stressed-out family – too short on patience to relax and enjoy each other’s company?

When your children are grown and they think back on the holidays of their childhood, do you think they will remember how perfectly your ornaments coordinated with your tree skirt? No. Not a chance. But what they will remember is your smile, your laughter, your hugs, and your joy.

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Don’t let the chaos steal those things from you—the only gifts your children truly need.

Your children need to recall holidays when mom read them stories, hugged them tightly, laughed at their antics, smiled brightly at their handprint reindeer, and snuggled up with them to watch a Christmas movie while sipping hot cocoa.

Those memories will cling to their hearts forever.

On days when adult life is tough, those memories will bring a smile to their faces and make the world seem a little less scary.  

So, dear sweet mama, don’t be afraid to abandon the decorating, ditch the mile-long toy wish list, and buy the premade cookies.

Just breathe. Relax. Hold your babies tight. And give them what they really need, today and forever in their memories—you.

Emily J. Merrick

Emily J. Merrick has a Bachelor's Degree in Family Studies from the University of Kentucky. She worked in a variety of social work and educational settings before becoming a full-time stay-at-home-mom in 2002. She and her (high-school sweetheart) husband have been together for almost 30 years and married for 24. Emily is a mother of six. Her third child passed away after heart surgery. Emily's five living children range in age from 19 down to 5. She ran a very successful Etsy shop from home for six years before becoming disabled in 2021. She now shares her experience through writing and enjoys time at home with her family and pets on 12 beautiful, rural acres in Kentucky.