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Christmas as a parent vs. Christmas as a kid

The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year. I absolutely love Christmas. I have so many fond traditions and memories from when I was growing up. We always decorated our house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. We had three jobs which rotated each year between the three of us girls. Setting up the nativity scene, decorating the Santa themed mantle, and setting up the Christmas light up village. We all had our favorite. We all respected the tradition of the rotation - no questions asked. 

It never crossed my mind that the rotation may have had something to do with my mother's sanity and putting an end to constant arguing between three sisters. Or how much work goes into the tradition of making Santa, angel, bell and Christmas tree sugar cookies and frosting each one together. We loved it.

Now when my son had his first Christmas I was so excited and couldn't wait to share all of these great things about the season. He was 5 months old so it didn't quite register. Last Christmas he was too scared to come into the living room Christmas morning because he thought Santa might still be there. There I am clutching his 6 month old sister clad in my robe coaxing him out of his room Christmas morning while my husband is filming..for like 10 minutes. 

So I'm just going to say it. Christmas was way more fun as a kid than as an adult. 

I don't want to sound like a scrooge. I love the holidays. I love the idea of "seeing everything through children's eyes" again. But let's keep it real here. Right now in my life- with a 18 month old and a 3 year old getting dinner on the table and keeping everyone alive is an accomplishment.

Let's add:
Decorate the Christmas tree as a family. 
Reality - Christmas music playing as I frantically grab delicate ornaments from a ever so helpful 3 year old and try to stop my toddler from eating more packing peanuts. 

All of our ornaments are at the top of our 5' tree. The bottom has a few askew bows. 

Wrap gifts. 
Half of the gifts have paper torn already. Toddlers don't understand the concept of waiting. 

Elf on the shelf... hasn't moved for 4 days.... we have a very predictable little guy. He must really like sitting on top of the piano.

Ok - I won't go on and on complaining. I just want to say to all you parents out there who have toddlers and preschoolers and newborns- not every parent has a beautifully decorated home with sugar cookies baking in the oven and Buddy the elf doing all sorts of fun antics daily. We just have a messy house and a Christmas tree now. I started feeling pretty badly about myself this year. Now that my son is in preschool I felt like I needed to step it up. Like I really needed to push the Holiday spirit and be Mrs. Clause herself. 
You should have seen my face when I realized I had to get his preschool teacher a gift too. Most moms are making something clever. However, I think she will enjoy the coffee gift card from me. Maybe some moms can do it all with kids these ages. I can't. I won't. I decided I would rather breathe, walk around the neighborhood and look at lights, and admire the Christmas cards we get in the mail. (I'll send some out next year.) 

So hang in there mama. There's at least one more of us out there who is still trying to figure this whole holiday season thing out. It's ok. 
 As I watched the Grinch with my son tonight I began to cry when the narrator said,

" He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more!" 

That's the tradition I want to show my kids. I can do that. I can snuggle and love them. I don't have to do all those good things right now. And cheers to you if you can and want to. But if you are like me mama and just might see your elf move in the morning - cheers to you and just keep on plugging in those Christmas tree lights on your half decorated tree because you're not alone! 



  1. Ha! I totally did gift card teacher gifts and no ornaments at the bottom of the tree too!! Glad to see I'm not the only one struggling with creating meaning and tradition as a parent of littles.

  2. Be VERY careful! I did that one year (when my 2nd was about 18-months) and he decided to try and reach the pretty ornaments that he wasn't supposed to touched by just pulling down on a branch until.....he brought the entire tree down on top of himself! I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, scream, or lock myself in the bathroom. FB friends, would have taken a picture of him on the ground with the tree on top. I instead relied on my then 4-year-old to play with him and keep them both safe while I took one picture of the remnants of what used to be ornaments that were once sentimental so that I could one day look back and crack a smile or even laugh. Now, 6 years later, I can laugh! But does it get any easier? It does in some ways but doesn't in others. I have to keep myself awake waiting until after 10 o'clock to move our elf b/c my 5th grader is still awake and still "believes". My kids don't want to read Christmas books this year. Seriously? But when my 5-year-old plays Barbies under the Christmas tree (we have upgraded to the non-breakable kind with the exception of the few remaining sentimental ones) incorporating Baby Jesus and the nativity scene into her play, now that is just what Christmas is about, right? And it wasn't planned.


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