I am generally a grinch about the holidays. It’s not the decor, or the songs, or the cookies – it’s the rushing around everywhere, the buying gifts for every damn person and their brother when you know that I know that you don’t need another candle/movie/whatever else it is that I finally settle on buying you because I feel obligated to give you a gift.
But having a child does stupid things to you, and this year I actually looked forward to the holidays a bit. The rush of the holidays was more stressful, despite my very organized Christmas spreadsheet, but we managed and it all led up to last night’s Christmas at Nana’s and this morning when Danger Boy got to find presents suddenly by the fireplace from Santa. We opened stockings first thing, while we waited for the others to wake up, and then had special Christmas waffles and gingerbread coffee for breakfast before tearing into the actual presents. And, before we knew it, my semi-clean house was right back to trashed with toys scattered everywhere.
And then… there was this post-holiday let-down. Our house guests left, we watched more TV than I cared to… I even managed to read a portion of a book on my Kindle, and I have to tell you that yes, I’m exactly as surprised as you are that THAT happened. It’s a freaking Christmas Miracle, right there, that I managed to read at all with a two year old within an arms reach. Or maybe it was just the giant pile of brand new toys that hadn’t lost their shininess. Otherwise, life got pretty boring. And that’s when I spent more time than I should have and looked at Facebook a little too long to see everyone’s adorable picture-perfect holiday photos. The cute new PJ’s for Christmas Eve. The adorable family photo shots where everyone matches without matching and, basically, look perfect. And then there’s me: in my PJ’s, not even going to bother to shower, and can’t keep my kid in his pajama pants.
And then that little voice in the back of my mind reminds me that not everything we see is real. Pictures are worth a thousand words, but those words often form stories in our heads of what that person’s life is like which is most likely the furthest thing from the truth. For all I know, that other toddler in that cute Christmas Eve photo was just as much of an overtired jerk as my kid was, but do you think my brain jumps to that conclusion? Nope.
So here’s our real life Christmas: A toddler who refused a nap, who then turned into a monster when it came time for Christmas Eve at Nana’s. More toys than any child actually needs, which just caused a lot of stress over where the heck we’re going to store them while also making mental notes on how much more of my life is going to be sucked away by cleaning this junk up. Forgetting the cookies and milk for Santa, or the carrots for the reindeer, and the husband eating half a Cheryl’s cookie and leaving it out on a plate (I also forgot that I had a “cookies for santa” plate to put those cookies on.) Forgetting about opening the PJ’s on Christmas Eve so we could wear them for Christmas morning. The excitement over the stockings being filled and Santa bringing LEGOs, which were put together and then ignored the rest of the day. Christmas waffles, which wasn’t at all the Martha Stewart-quality Waffle Bar I envisioned but still delicious. Ham & cheese sliders for lunch, because I couldn’t come up with anything special (probably best since I have no energy for cooking a fancy dinner), and then more waffles for dinner because it felt like too much work to send someone out for Chinese food. And, ending the whole holiday as it began, a tantrum-throwing toddler who absolutely insists he isn’t tired and 45 minutes of fighting… all for him to pass out 5 minutes later.
It isn’t remotely perfect. It isn’t what I envisioned or planned. But it is what it is, and there’s always next year to do a little better, have a little more patience and lower expectations.