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The Reality Of The Perfect Christmas

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I remember the holidays when I was a little kid. We watched Christmas movies on our only TV when they came on one of the 6 channels we got because my dad refused to pay for cable- but only if dad wasn’t already watching something. My mom made us hot cocoa from the packets- sans marshmallows because the ones with marshmallows were a dollar more. We went to one family Christmas party on Christmas Eve after church and all the other holiday parties were adult only. On Christmas morning we woke up to our unwrapped presents separated into piles for each of us (thanks Santa). We had a couple of hours to enjoy them before being forced into our frilly Christmas dresses and beginning what my sister and I now refer to as the Holiday Parade of Homes through 4-5 relatives homes where we would be shuffled off to play with cousins or dogs while our parents enjoyed wine (mom) and scotch on the rocks (dad) with the adults. See back then Christmas was not all about how to create the perfect, magical Christmas for the kids.

Fast forward to the current day.

Pinterest is clogged with 10,546 creative ideas for Elf on the Shelf to delight your kids, 999 extravagant holiday recipes to make at home with your kids, 6500 new family traditions to start immediately so as to not spoil childhood for your kids, 498 ways to make your gift wrapping stand out, and 1.4 million holiday crafts to do with your little cherubs. Christmas has become a whole thing dedicated to creating the perfectly staged Instagram and Facebook posts to show friends, family, and complete strangers that you are a family (and mom) to be envied.

No more. I’m saying no to the pressure to frantically manufacture Christmas magic, to send the perfect holiday cards, to all the things that everyone says you must do to create the perfect Christmas season for your kids. I’m saying no to pushing and forcing and making my family participate in all the activities that society today deems necessary for a picture perfect Christmas. I’m saying no to using Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook as guidelines for what I should be doing this holiday season. I’m saying no.

Instead, we will focus on what matters most to us. We will drink hot cocoa from a packet- with marshmallows because we’re not savages. We will lounge in our comfy fleece pajamas in front of a fire watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We will make Christmas cookies from refrigerated dough and enjoy every bite. We will decline most holiday party invitations in favor of quiet family nights at home. We will blast our favorite Christmas songs and sing along. There will be no perfect Christmas cards, no outrageous elf antics, no 4 hours spent waiting to spend 20 minutes driving through Christmas town to see lights, no 5 course holiday meals, no matching family pajamas, no expertly decorated Christmas trees or mantles, no Clark Griswold-esque outdoor light displays.

I’m not sending any Christmas cards this year. I can no longer justify spending hundreds of dollars on cards that just get tossed out in a couple of weeks. Our elf, Jingles, likes to find creative places to hide every night but she very thoughtfully does not create mischievous messes for me to clean up. The kids don’t have any desire to drive through the Christmas town to see the lights anymore. We’re going to be dining on Cinnamon Roll Bake and a delicious egg breakfast casserole for Christmas morning. I don’t think there is any possible way to force Tyler to participate in matching Christmas pajamas- he’s pretty stubborn. One of our Christmas trees is lopsided because a foot is cracked and the other Christmas tree is half lit because I can’t find the burnt out bulb. We bought one of those Star Shower laser light things to project Christmas lights onto our house this year instead of hanging real lights.

And you know what? That’s ok. Christmas isn’t about perfection. I’m happy with how we are celebrating Christmas. My family is happy. I can scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, enjoy those perfectly decorated houses, and smile because they really are beautiful. But I don’t feel envious or cheated or less than. I feel grateful. We have everything we need. And that’s what matters. 

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