We all know who the holiday traditionalists are in our families. They are the ones who want to do the same thing year after year. Cook the same food. Watch the same movie. Go to the same parade.
They may overwhelm you with their love for cheesy holiday activities or their abundant holiday décor. To you, it seems like they may explode with holiday cheer on every rousing chorus of “Jingle Bells.”
But deep down inside, they are afraid.
You see, the secret to every holiday traditionalist’s dream come true is for everything to stay the same, which we all know, never happens. And all that planning to create magical moments, well, it’s a lot of work.
Moms especially fall prey to disappointment this time of year, smiling through the fear that the holidays may not live up to their expectations.
If you are one of these moms (like me), striving and planning and seeking perfection with every holiday ideal, it’s time to take a deep breath. There are things we can do to help manage our expectations and still keep the magic alive.
Cut your plans in half. You know how your December calendar looks? With every weekend stuffed to the max with “family fun?” Parties, Santa sightings, school events, and shopping excursions quickly take over our lives this time of year. I’m convinced a packed schedule is a recipe for joyless-ness, and I’m an extrovert!
Now take a look at your calendar again and mark out HALF of the things you planned to do. Yes, half, because you do not need to attend every party and community event that exists. Opening your schedule is the key to creating memories. Pick one Santa. Go to one or two parties. But spend the rest of this fleeting season soaking in your kids at home. Bake cookies. Play a game. Connect. These are the things your kids will remember.
Do one thing you love, even if you do it alone. I absolutely LOVE going to the mall at Christmas. The chaos, the music, the smells — it makes my heart flutter. My husband, however, is not a fan. (And that is a total understatement).
After years of dragging him with me, I finally realized . . . I don’t need a partner to shop. I can enjoy the holiday chaos all by myself! So, if there is something you love to do that isn’t on anyone else’s list, don’t complain or force your family to participate in things they hate. Just go solo and reap your own kind of joy.
Your children only remember what you did, not what you didn’t do. Our first Christmas as a family of four was a giant failure in my eyes. My daughter’s diagnosis with a rare neuromuscular condition required us to stay home away germs, and I ended up sick.
We couldn’t cook or see our families. We never even left the house. I wore a medical mask all week and the only Christmas-y thing we did was put together a gingerbread house that I picked up last minute at the grocery store. But my son loved making that little house. In fact, he loved it so much, it was the first thing he remembered a year later and asked if we could do it again.
My Christmas failure was his magic. He didn’t know he missed out on the family gathering or the delicious food, or that we were stuck at home eating store-bought casseroles. He was happy and loved. And in the end, that’s really all that matters. Our presence and our time, mamas. These are the tools for building great holiday traditions this season.
The magical memories will be there, but only if we are too.