It's been a long while. There, I addressed it. Let's move on.
Happy New Year! I am happy spending the entire month of January wishing people I have not yet seen a Happy New Year. Once we get into February though, you'll have to settle for implied wishes as I have two very important birthdays to worry about, not to mention St. Chocolate's Day.
How were your holidays? Good? Good.
Here are things I'm learning about being a parent at Christmas. You see, I spent 33 years being a kid at Christmas, and I find it difficult to break old habits. Don't get me wrong, I want to rock being a parent at Christmas, it's just that there are a few things I need to keep in my head for the coming years.
1. It takes a little more advance planning. Before kids, I could get away with a lot more last-minute nonsense. All of my free time was my own, to stay up all night, to spend an entire weekend shopping, to duck out here or pull over there to just take care of this one last thing. Things get a whole lot less flexible once you have a child who has the use of her arms and legs, a raging case of free will, and those pesky eyes and ears coupled with a frighteningly keen sense of logic and deduction. I'm thinking of starting tomorrow.
2. Your kid is still the same kid, even on Christmas. At some point during the festivities, your offspring will act ungrateful/throw a tantrum/refuse to cooperate/illustrate in some way what a terrible job you have done in raising them. Because here you have a day, like any other in its unpredictability, except that it brings to the table a drastic increase in sugar consumption, one or more adults, camera in hand whining "Smile, stay there, stand still, hold up your toy, not the fake smile, hands away from your face, STAY STILL!" in a desperate attempt to capture the perfect FB profile pic, long, drawn out meals involving many foods that may be totally unfamiliar for the fact that they only get eaten once a year, and expectations so high you need to sleep at base camp before even contemplating scaling them. It's a cocktail for disaster, if I've ever seen one. Getting out alive is something to celebrate.
3. There are even more presents to buy when you're 3 people. Because I'm a selfish jerk, I really only starting getting it this year. E wants to give people presents. People love getting presents from kids. E is not able to swing by the mall on her way home from school and whip out her credit card…enter Mom. Who is already confused about keeping her shopping list separate from Santa's. Once upon a time people got presents from Ralph. Heck, he even used to get presents. But we are now those people who forget about the dog until an antler headband shows up and he becomes the star of the show for 3 minutes. Next year maybe E and Ralph will exchange gifts and we'll call it even.
4. It doesn't have to be complicated to be special. But it does have to be special. Anytime I have ever attempted to plan anything, the situation snowballs quickly. I get very excited about planning, and immediately my google searches spiral towards the most elaborately breathtaking examples of human ingenuity and craftiness, the level of which I simply could never attain. It puts a lot of pressure on me, followed by the crushing realization of my inadequacies. I forget that E is not Martha Stewart, my family is not standing by with Better Homes and Gardens on the line, and more than any ornate centrepiece or sky-high confection or elaborate production, what would make everyone happiest is to see everyone happy. Not stressed out and disappointed.
Our holidays were lovely. We had time with family, time with friends and time with each other. If I can just manage a few tweaks from these lessons, maybe this year will be the Perfect Christmas. What was that about expectations?