Mama Claus? Or the Grinch who hates Christmas?

Every year in October it starts to happen: trees pop up in the middle of department stores, antlers protrude from car windows, and as the air turns crisp, the sounds of Mariah Carey float on the breeze. It’s coming. Christmas. While part of me delights in these signs of the season, as so many do, the other part of me fills with dread. As moms, we know all too well the pressures of the holidays.

My two oldest children have fall birthdays, so beginning in early October, we are off to the races. Parties, gifts, and expensive meals start to dominate my thoughts. The pressure to get it right on a budget looms over me as I scrape together what should have been my utility payment to take my daughter out to dinner and buy my son the shoes he so desperately wants (and needs). With one birthday down, the next draws near, and then….the big one. Christmas.

As the kids make lists of the holiday activities we MUST do this year, and rank the Christmas movies they want to watch in order of funniness, my brain is making other lists: lists of tasks I have to accomplish and money I have to spend. As a mom of three on a tight budget, to say the holidays are overwhelming would be a massive understatement. If we are being honest, I find my daily life overwhelming! Add pressures to make the season magical, bake cookies, and buy gifts for everyone in a 10-mile radius and the list feels downright insurmountable. How I long for the simple pleasures of sledding down a hill with not a care in the world–red-nosed and laughing, knowing there would be a hot cup of cocoa at home waiting! Now I’m the cocoa keeper. I miss those days of anticipation, wondering what magic could be in store for me next during this fantastical season! Now I’m the magic maker.

Now that we are nearing the end of October and the holidays loom closer and closer, memories of last year surface. I remember feeling so inadequate. The stress of the season hit early and hit hard. I remember telling my partner that I hated Christmas and wished we could fast-foward to January. I was so afraid that I would fall short of everyone’s expectations. So afraid to disappoint. So….afraid. My heart is pounding as I type this and remember. 

I would love to say that I have found the secret–that there’s some mystical wisdom I’ve uncovered that will help all mothers in the future to relax and enjoy the holiday season–but I haven’t. So let’s make a pact. Let’s decide now,  before it even rears its ugly head, not to let the pressure win. When we feel it mounting, let’s say to ourselves: You Are Enough. Because you know what my kids remember from last year? They remember singing Christmas songs in the car during school pick-up. They remember decorating the tree and watching Christmas Vacation on a random Tuesday afternoon. They remember watching A Christmas Story all bundled up on the sofa together and drinking hot cocoa on the weekend. They remember the warmth, the love, and the family time, and they probably couldn’t name the gifts they received if they tried. They don’t need magic, they just want…me. Their mama: present, joyful, anticipating the magic of the season with effervescent joy, just like them– no –with them. Heat up the cocoa, kids. I’m coming.

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