About 23 minutes into our first day of Christmas break, I looked at my four beautiful children and had two thoughts. One, how long until we go back to school? And two, They are ruining Christmas.
Every year I have this romantic notion that Christmas will involve merry cookie baking, peaceful tree trimming, and warm conversations over hot chocolate. What actually happens is closer to half a bag of flour on the floor and eggshells in the dough, broken heirloom ornaments and a leaning Christmas tree, and hot chocolate mixed with melted marshmallow spills all over the red and green Christmas tablecloth that I just washed for the third time.
Warm, peaceful, and merry quickly turns to loud, messy, and chaotic when my kids are involved. My holiday decorating theme inevitably changes from American folk to early childhood within the first week of December. The items on my December to-do list are moved to an ever-growing list entitled, “Things I can do in 20 years.”
Like every year, I have had to switch gears and change my attitude. For example, I thought it would be nice to fill my children’s advent calendar box with homemade gifts and Christmas chocolates. Instead, I filled them with leftover Halloween candies and an occasional candy cane.
I thought it would be generous to send a tray of cookies to the office staff at my work. Instead, I simply ate the cookies that our office staff had received from another, more organized employee.
Festive egg bakes and quiches were replaced with cheerios, poptarts, and bruised bananas. Family photos in festive holiday wear around church poinsettias were replaced with selfies in our pjs on the living room carpet. My yearly photo book was put on hold until MLKJ Day.
Sensing my growing disappointment, my wise and experienced co-worker gave me her best holiday advice, “Get rid of all the unnecessary. The doctor’s appointments, the haircuts, the cookie trays, the extras. Move them to the January calendar. And don’t worry about the bad hair, they make the Christmas photos more interesting anyway.”
So I guess my only advice on how to survive Christmas with your children is simply to spend Christmas with your children. Things always seem to go better when they get to add the eggs to the recipes, shells and all. I hide the laundry and we play a board game. Christmas dinner is PB&Js, because no one complains and they take 6 minutes to make.
We work together on chores in the afternoon and watch movies with pizza in the evenings. We go sledding. We drink hot chocolate and we leave the stained tablecloth on the table. We forfeit the perfect Christmas tree for something that better represents us. And in the end, our favorite holiday memory is, to quote my 12-year-old son, “Everything.”