MAGIC & STRESS OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas has an amazing way of being incredibly magical while also the most stressful time of year. Who’s with me?!? Keeping magic in Christmas is top of mind for me right now. We have one believing in Santa and one not, which creates a whole new set of challenges I don’t feel like anyone educated me about. Clearly a ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ fail.
First and foremost, we want to hold on to the magic for our children. Not only making the holiday season fun for them, but also a special time full of memories we will ALL cherish. In addition, teaching lessons about the true meaning of CHRISTmas and modeling a generous spirit.
In contrast, the pressure of ALL OF THE ABOVE can be almost too much to bear! I’ve stopped just short of making myself a checklist of all the lessons needing to be taught this time of year. However, the task list is stupid full as I’m sure yours is as well! WHERE DOES IT END?!?!
Maybe you are a “Christmas tree up the day after Halloween” kind of family. No judgment…. Alternatively, we decorate for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving. First off, it’s likely because we host the Thanksgiving festivities every year. Second, I tend to enjoy fall décor! Undoubtedly, my 20-year-old self wants to punch me in the face right now. Fall décor Heather?!?!? What have you become?! But I digress.
EARLY YEARS- CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
Tears literally come to my eyes when I begin reminiscing. Jake and Bryce’s sweet innocence in the years they were really captivated by the magic of Christmas, oh my aching heart! The sparkle in their eyes. Complete joy and excitement over all of the holiday spirit. Accordingly, toys and presents were a part of it, however I’m referring more to ALL of the other stuff.
Twinkling lights and driving through the Reynolds Christmas display, an annual tradition. Reindeer coming to school. Church Christmas pageants and wondering if Bryce would actually stay up front with Jake or not. Baking and present wrapping for friends and family. Getting out their box of special ornaments every year and the memories each hold. Whether they have the story correct or not, irrelevant. The funny Santa visits of pure excitement and terror all wrapped into one delightful picture. After Christmas Eve service, coming home to sprinkle the “reindeer food” they made at pre-school on the front lawn.
(I’m not crying, you’re crying!)
Gingerbread houses and the terrifying Gingerbread man at Conner Prairie. Okay, a memory likely still haunting Bryce so forget that one actually. In Bryce’s defense, the big brown blob of a character was a smidge on the creepy side, even for the adults.
The sheer excitement of finding Steve the elf after his nightly quest to pay Santa a visit and get back before dawn. Correct, our elf’s name is Steve. He likely beats up all of the Sprinkle, Glitter, and Sparkle named elves when they get to the north pole each night. Why? Because his name is Steve! Santa has Steve’s beer in hand when he arrives from the long flight and they kick back until dawn talking about the Lowey house pranks and what a saint Mom Lowey is on a daily basis. Definitely happening all while Sprinkle, Glitter, and Sparkle put in the work at the toy shop.
Wait, where was I?
MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS EXHAUSTION
Oh yeah, magic of Christmas. Without a doubt, it’s exhausting for parents to keep up the charade of hiding and sneaking. Shoot, what’s from Santa and what’s from us?? Where do we hide this GIANT box for two weeks? Did I just slip up and talk about last year’s Santa gift and where we BOUGHT it?! Crap.
Plastering on Christmas cheer for family activities when you just want to fall flat on your face into your pillow.
Obviously, I get it. Been there, done that. But for those with kids still believing in all of the hype, all of the magic, all of what Christmas stands for in their little minds, TREASURE IT.
Correct, I’m siding with Karen on this one. In short, you’re going to miss it. I know, I can be really annoying sometimes. Nevertheless, I promise.
Yes, life will get easier without the hiding and not having to be so damn creative all the time. While easier is awesome too, consequently you miss the innocent wonder in your house. In addition, the new challenge exists of how to continue to instill in them there is truly magic around Christmas.
Oh sweetheart, it’s still stressful and crazy as hell. I’m not telling you to enjoy EVERY moment. You can be frustrated and absolutely should kick the stupid elf. When the kids aren’t looking, of course. Why do you think our elf is tied up sometimes?
KISS (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID)
Buy some break & bakes instead of baking some fancy cookie. People will still eat them AND love them. Throw some flour on your face for effect and no one will be the wiser. In fact, drink wine in the kitchen while the break & bake cookies are in the oven instead of trying to follow a multi-step recipe. Genius!
After the frustration though, take a moment to reflect and fill your heart with gratitude and dare I say it…. magic. Savor the completely innocent look in their eyes as they tell you a long, drawn-out story about finding Steve hanging from a ceiling fan with all of their underwear. Giggle and enjoy the moment just like they are.
Girlfriend, I know it’s hard. We have to be so grown up all the time and sometimes being grown up sucks. Additionally, when your to do list is a mile long, allowing your little one to help wrap presents is about THE FURTHEST FROM PRODUCTIVE you can get. But I beg of you, allow them. Why? Because it’s not only going to be one of their favorite memories to look back on fondly, it’s going to be yours too.
I laugh at the number of things in our house we did once and the next year, they were suddenly TRADITION. “We ALWAYS make Rolo Pretzel Bites on baking day Mom!” Oh. Well we did it last year because it was something easy, I thought you guys could handle. But okay, it’s now tradition. Note to self, they don’t care how easy it is…. it can still be a tradition! #truth
KEEPING THE MAGIC
Jake has entered the phase of being “in the know.” We’ve had some really neat discussions around how the magic of Christmas still exists regardless of Santa’s actual presence. For the record, I can’t take credit for this magic discussion.
A viral story I saw a few years ago was SO HELPFUL! Addressing how Christmas tends to bring out the best in people was a good place to start. Above all, it is people having a generous spirit in making others’ dreams come true, especially this time of year. Generosity and love are the really important pieces of the magic.
As a big 5th grader, I asked if he had friends who still believed. His response:
“Yeah, just a few. Now that I know, it’s funny when they tell stories about Santa or their elf. It makes me laugh. But not at them. I like it. I don’t want to ruin it for them.”
Be still my heart.
HOLDING ON – KEEPING MAGIC IN CHRISTMAS
The question around Santa’s existence can be a parent’s worst nightmare. WHAT DO YOU SAY? This was the discussion recently with friends at a Christmas party, following by a ton of laughter around the panicked responses.
My favorite though was a friend whose daughter is wise beyond her years and an amazing critical thinker. They were loading shoeboxes of gifts for children in Haiti. Amy mentioned they needed to think about the gifts carefully as this was probably the only gift the child would receive at Christmas, “let’s make it special.” Her daughter said, “well, they will get their gift from Santa too, mom!”
Amy panicked. She started down a path of talking about socio-economic differences and how Santa likely doesn’t visit Haiti because it would not be fair if all children didn’t get gifts and because it’s a poor country other people around the world are generously making sure kids of Haiti get gifts….. you get the picture. She totally went down a panic rabbit hole. And we laughed. Hard. Like, tears down my face can’t breathe kind of hard.
But if we’re honest, we’ve all had those moments of not really knowing how to answer the question. It has this feeling of loss of innocence associated with belief or not in Santa. The magic of Christmas isn’t tied to the man in the red suit, BUT he sure is a big part of it.
My advice to you is to figure out what the magic is for your family. There are resources out there like the article I referenced for ways to talk about it. Figure out the traditions you want to keep alive and just like those days you worked so hard at the game of charades, work hard to preserve them. Okay, maybe not QUITE as hard. No ladders to hang Steve from the ceiling beam with nerf darts. Nonetheless, you’ll likely want to make an effort. Additionally, you may be pleasantly surprised by the things your kids want to cling onto because it’s just as special to them as it once was to you.
YOU’VE GOT THIS MOM
In conclusion, tonight after everyone goes to bed, turn everything off but the Christmas spirit. Just sit in the twinkling glow of your beautiful Christmas lights and absorb. In the quiet and peacefulness of the Christmas glow, you will feel it. You, momma, will feel the magic. You will know all of the hard-work, sleepless nights, and charades of elves, Santa, and whatever other magical games played were worth it.
The magic still exists because you created something wonderful for your children. They know in their hearts the meaning of Christmas and the magic in this wonderful time of year.
Well done momma. Well done.
Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more. – Dr. Seuss