“Trust your gut. Forgive yourself. Be grateful.” – Cheryl Strayed
Oh the holidays! What a wonderful time! Forced family gatherings. Multiple ‘To Do’ lists from shopping to baking. Scheduling all the holiday activities to breakfast with Santa and driving all over town to see the festive lights. This is all in addition to your regularly scheduled programming of life. It’s fun, right?
Well, don’t you dare act like it is work – this is holiday freaking fun! You will do it and you will like it!
Whoa! Wait a minute! I’m not saying there aren’t fun moments, but let’s be honest. Life is rough on the regular! And in the next six weeks, we are going to slam some fun down your throat and expect you to get ‘er done with a smile on your face! Got it?!?
I call bullshit! Not bullshit on the holidays, but bullshit on the thought it is all fun and no work. My work schedule does not have an asterisk by it during the six-week holiday season. School isn’t on hold, at least for the entire time (which throws a whole other wrench in the plan, but that is for another post). We still have work, practice, school, require food and some sleep during this time and we are supposed to add in the holiday spirit without a glitch. Well…I. Call. Bullshit.
Shopping for outfits for an entire family that look presentable and ensuring they are clean is extra work. Coordinating schedules of said family and with another adult (aka photographer) in enough time to get a spot for the ‘mini-session’ then enough time to get pictures edited, create a holiday card, have cards shipped, addressed and mailed before the New Year is A LOT.
I am the mom that would die for my children, and in the same breath threaten to take their lives if they can’t act like they have some sense. My family can put on a hell of a Christmas card, and you can count on us keeping it real. To get my daughters to “dress up” with hair fixed the way I deem appropriate requires global-level negotiations. Mediation continues up until twenty minutes from departure time all the while tears and screaming on a continuous loop. By the time we are smiling for the camera, I have promised them Christmas in July, but we sure do make a pretty Christmas card.
Can we make a promise to ourselves this year? Please! Let’s be honest about the holidays. Let’s stop acting like everything is merry and bright and smells like cookies baking in the oven. The holidays are difficult. They are difficult on our checking accounts, our schedules, our sanity and our spirit.
For many of us, the holidays are a time of missing those who aren’t here anymore. Our nostalgic memories are filled with people we can no longer hold on to. The holidays can be a time of loneliness and pain, all the while watching the picture-perfect Hallmark movies set expectations of what the holidays are supposed to be (in 2 hours or less with commercials).
Instead of editing that social media post for thirty more minutes, reach out to someone and show kindness. Donate that thirty minutes to help someone else. Tell someone they mean something to you. Go to lunch with a friend who doesn’t have family. Make some necessity bags for people who have nothing. Instead of gifts for someone who has everything, do something for someone else without anything in return. And for the love of the Christmas tree, post some honesty, folks!
Post your kitchen after the baking is over. Tell stories in carpool to support each other, don’t give your holiday hit-list with everything your family is doing in matching tee-shirts. However, if your family is doing all the things in matching tee-shirts then GET IT GIRL, because it ain’t happening over here. We are lucky if everyone has clean underwear.
Let honesty and kindness guide us as we begin the countdown to crazytown and get swept away in joyfully-good-cheer.
I pledge show to some kindness this year and not post it to social media. I also pledge to post some truth to social media in the midst of the beautifulness of this joyful season.
We should celebrate the holidays. We all need time dedicated to our families and should be grateful that we have people to celebrate with. Our celebrations don’t have to be lined with glitter and bows. Our families are messy and should be celebrated anyway. Everyone has an Uncle Eddie (if you don’t know who I am referring to, then go watch Christmas Vacation- NOW- Stop reading and go!) and some of the best memories are made with an Uncle Eddie.
Since Christmas is now a two-month long celebration, can we take moment to breathe in middle of the whirlwind? Instead of dragging our assess across the finish line on the night of the 25th, take in the moments along the way. The smiles and wonderment of you children growing up right before your eyes. The tears and remembrance that comes with missing and honoring those we love who are gone. The laughter that ignites when we epically fail at finding the perfect gift. The peace that comes with times of solitude and reflection over another year coming to an end.
Take the smiles, the tears and laughs as they come because you are not guaranteed any holidays. The gift is that you get to keep on moving forward and that you have people who care enough to annoy you each and every year.
Good luck collecting the moments!
If you want to help and need direction of where to start, below is a great organization in need of necessity bags for victims of human trafficking. This group does amazing work! My family will be helping this year.
Women of the Well Ministry
If you don’t have time to shop and still want to help here is their Venmo account: