It’s that time of year again — to curl up next to the fire under the cozy glow of the holiday lights, reflecting on the months behind us, looking forward to the months ahead, and making one very, very important resolution:
To avoid repeating the well-intentioned missteps we made over the holidays last year.
And I’m not just talking about eating all of Santa’s cookies by myself (again). I’m referring to the mistakes that threatened to rob me of my holiday joy, from ensuring my husband’s only job was to assemble a couple toys on Christmas Eve to forgetting one crucial thing, necessitating an errand Christmas morning. Let’s review…
1. I Gave Into Peer Pressure About Elves Who Sit Upon Shelves
Listen, I have nothing against the Elf on the Shelf; on the contrary, I admire the parents who have the creativity to concoct all those mischievous pranks. (What some moms can make out of marshmallows alone, I mean, wow.)
As much as I admire “Elf parents,” however, I’ve learned the hard way that I am just not one of them. After giving into my children’s begging for an Elf last year, I lasted exactly 6 hours before forgetting to move the darn thing, which I then repeated the next night, and then the next too, leaving all my kids bewildered and questioning even the Big Man in the Red Suit himself.
The truth is, I wanted to create more holiday fun for my kids, but I learned an important lesson: it’s just not fun for anyone if I take on more than I can handle. I apparently can’t handle an Elf, which is totally fine. Looks like that marshmallow hot tub will just have to be built by someone else…
2. I Forgot Batteries Aren’t Always Included
Is there anything worse as a kid than getting that brand-new, fancy-schmancy toy under the tree and not being able to play with it right away because it’s “Batteries Not Included”?
The answer is yes, and that would be being my husband last year, ordered to trudge out in the freezing cold in his pajamas because your wife who was up all night wrapping presents (please see #5) was definitely not going to be the one to do it, but that’s just a wild guess. The point is, I’ve learned Duracell batteries make great stocking stuffers. Merry Christmas, kids!
3. I Was a Control Freak About the “Wrong” Kind of Presents
Last year, after a mammoth effort on my part to declutter our home and establish peace and order amongst my four children (snort), I may have gone a little overboard trying to control what gifts came into our house over the holidays.
I stressed about the piles of presents my kids received from my in-laws, the grandparents, their aunts and uncles, and even their friends at school. It seemed every way I looked, we were drowning in loud, bright, battery-powered presents with 10 million little parts that would only end up inevitably scattered around every last corner of my house, including and inexplicably, my underwear drawer. I protested, insisted we already had way too much stuff and directed anyone who asked what the kids wanted for Christmas to my carefully curated gift-giving “experiences” list, to no avail.
And while I still think the present parade is a bit much, I finally realized that I had two choices: 1) continue to fight it and really only make myself frustrated or 2) accept that gift-giving is a love language for a lot of people, even if said gifts aren’t handcrafted from sustainable-practice farms. My kids won’t be little forever and if making them (and their adoring grandparents) happy can be as simple as me buying a few batteries for the toys that they love, well, then, that’s honestly a gift for me too.
4. I Made the “Magic” All My Responsibility
In the 10 years I’ve been a mom, I’ve somehow progressively added to my list of holiday duties. Each year, I have found myself feeling decidedly more Scrooge-like about it all. I’ve now been creating holiday “magic” all on my own for a solid decade. This year? Mama is done having a monopoly on magic.
I hated the feeling of resentment that crept up on me last year, as my husband watched our children unwrap the presents he was just seeing for the first time as we sipped coffee I had prepared and sat beneath decorations I had put up in the house I had cleaned, as the breakfast I had prepared bubbled away in the oven. By mid-December, I’m typically like one of those tangled light strands you grab from the bottom of the ornament bin and put on the tree—I’m barely flickering and I’m about to burn out. This year, I’m determined to delegate.
5. I Overdosed on Cheesy Holiday Movies
Just kidding, that definitely wasn’t a mistake and you can bet your eggnog I’ll be repeating that one. Bring on the city girl falling in love with the shy yet charming sweater-clad lad from her hometown in the same recycled plot over and over with a side of peppermint hot chocolate, please! If you need me, I’ll be on the sofa in my snuggie.