The Countdown

Are you still with me, Mama?

We’re down to less than a week until Christmas. It feels like it’s coming too fast. It always does. We keep consoling ourselves with the fact that we’re a week shorter between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to most years. Truly, we are rock stars, simply for surviving. The truth is, I’d still be behind even if we had an EXTRA week, rather than one week less, but that’s neither here nor there.

Every year I’m unprepared. I take the Christmas season day-by-day, and somehow most everything still gets done- even with a seven year old and two four year olds who are literally bouncing off the walls with excitement and anticipation for the Big Guy’s arrival (no matter how many times I threaten that he’s going to miss our house, because are we really parents if we don’t threaten to cancel Christmas if they don’t settle down, even if we would never follow through?).

I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist, a little Type A. I can neither confirm nor deny these allegations, but I can say that I freak myself out over the smallest of holiday details, regardless of whether or not there is a fat man with a beard dressed all in red and covered in coal dust scheduled to visit my house in less than a week.

The trees are up, the decorating is done, the shopping is mostly finished, wrapping is caught up, cookie baking has begun, and we spent this week purging old toys in order to make room for what is inevitably an influx of four times the amount of stuff I just got them to part with. I’ve been on a cleaning frenzy, despite the fact that the twins are on break from school already and they can hurricane through a freshly cleaned room more quickly than twin tasmanian devils. This week I’ve decided that the ceiling paint needs touched up, the cobwebs need knocked down, the appliances must all be moved to be cleaned under and behind, the bedding must all be changed…and on and on and on. I’ve focused a lot of attention on small details that the *average* visitor would never take notice of. And we don’t get many visitors during the holidays anyway.

I’ve spent too many evenings when I should’ve been putting finishing touches on some Christmas preparation, binge-watching Virgin River on Netflix, or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime, with a hot toddy or some spiked hot cocoa in my hand, and you know what? It’s good for the soul. When I’m feeling tapped-out with holiday prep, a little unwind time isn’t going to make much difference in the grand scheme.

And you know what? My kids (and yours too, I’m certain) won’t notice what doesn’t get done. They won’t care if there are still cobwebs in the chandeliers, or if you only got two batches of cookies baked compared to your usual 10, or even if Santa gets Oreos and Chips Ahoy this year. They won’t care if there’s one or two lights out on the Christmas tree, or if the Christmas morning breakfast is store-bought cinnamon rolls instead of a big, elaborate, homemade spread. They may not even notice if they don’t get everything that was on their lists to Santa, because if your kids are anything like mine, the list changed four times between the beginning of list writing until the time the list(s) went into the mailbox, and half the items on said lists don’t even freaking exist. They don’t care how many “likes” your gingerbread house pictures get on social media or if the whole thing falls to crumbs before you even finish it anyway, because all they want to do is eat the candy off of it.

You know what your kids (and you) will remember? They’ll remember you being there. They’ll remember the family events, riding around in the car looking at neighbors’ lights in their pajamas. They’ll remember picking the candy off of the gingerbread house and sneaking the pieces into their mouths. They’ll remember the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning with the whole family, having a cup of cocoa and opening gifts together. And, spoiler alert: a lot of kids learn very early that it’s better to give than to receive, so don’t be surprised if yours are more excited to watch you open the gifts they picked out oh-so-thoughtfully (I spent four days shopping with elementary school students last week, and was continuously in awe of how selective these little people were about the gifts they chose for their family and friends) than they are to open their own gifts.

This holiday season is a time of struggle for many I know, and for some I don’t, or don’t know well, but whose stories have reached us and touched us, and I’ve spent a lot of time during my Great Christmas Time Race reflecting on how unimportant many of the items on my to-do list really are compared to a lot of families’ struggles. I’m trying to slow down and remind myself that the perfection of it all is more in the eye of the beholder, and Hallmark movies are for entertainment; it’s not real life. That’s not to say that true Christmas magic doesn’t exist! I wholeheartedly believe that it does. But to my thinking, Christmas magic is in the good we do for one another.

So offer yourself a little grace during the season when we are so generous about extending grace to others. Let’s remember what’s really important- family, love, peace, and joy. There is much to celebrate and to be thankful for, and the details are all just…well, details.

Cheers, friends. May peace and love surround you and yours this season.




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