I should have known better than to write a post titled How to Underwhelm Your Overwhelmed Holiday.
Because that was kind of like praying for patience.
And while I did actually do those three things I suggested for simplifying this over-symbolized time of year (I said no to a couple parties, I volunteered at school because I know that’s what the teachers really want, I practice gratitude) my past three days have been anything but underwhelmed.
I put myself to bed at 8:30 the other night because EXHAUSTION. And I cried when I forgot to send the book for the preschool party exchange and I bought cookies instead of baked. No guilt, right?
Except, so much guilt.
At church Wednesday Night Supper (where they thought it was okay to feed this overwrought mom pasta, bread, and cheesecake in one sitting) I sat with another mom who just looked like she wanted to crawl in her bed and not come out until January. That’s basically what she told me. How chaotic it is to keep up with the parties and the expectations and the kid who wants to dress like the Grinch and wrap all the presents and read the devotions and actually be present and move the freaking Elf on the Shelf.
As an aside, I don’t know a single mom who actually likes Elf on the Shelf. You all do it for your kids. And that’s great, but if it makes you miserable, they might be happier if you stopped. Or if you just sat it in one place and told the kids Jingles is playing a month long game of Statue.
I gave her some advice–advice I need to take myself because trust me, Queen of Christmas Humbug I am. And then I told several other moms I’m launching a movement. And I’m serious.
No More Mom Guilt at Christmas.
Here’s what I’m going to do and you can join me if you are certain and sure and ready to admit that what we’re doing out of love may actually not be the best thing for our families.
I’m going to get through the next week. I’m going to breathe and pray and read devotions for me and try to read the Jesus Storybook Bible or Unwrapping the Greatest Gift or Luke 2 from my NIV with my kids. I’m going to wrap presents and accept a few credit card charges and make the Southern Living cover cake.
I’m going to laugh and smile and be happy because that’s what matters most.
Then, when the frenzy is over I’m going to sit down with a glass of something that’s not eggnog or hot chocolate, and I’m going to make a list. I’m going to divide what all we’ve done into two categories:
- What I Actually Enjoy About Christmas
- What Makes Me Want to Light My Hair on Fire and Run Away Screaming
Or, you know, something less extreme.
Then I’m going to put the list away and pull it out again in November. I know by then I’ll be ready to dive in again and maybe a few items may migrate from #2 to #1, but at least I’ll be doing so with the perspective that this isn’t particularly enjoyable, but I’m doing it because a) Christmas is about being selfless or b) I know my kids will love it.
And then I’ll move that elf or ice those cookies or go to that party without grumbling because I gave myself a choice.
That’s the big secret friends–if you’re overwhelmed because you feel you don’t have a choice but to do all the things, know that you do.
You have a choice.
You can say no.
You can stay home in your pajamas and watch the Grinch with your kids and eat the store bought cookies and they’ll say, “Hey, Mom, you’re being so nice, we think your heart just grew.”
And it will.
We need a hashtag. Any suggestions?