Wearily Fa la la la la(ing) Through the Holidays
By Andra Pape
I was eating lunch with a dear friend of mine the other day. We had carved out a lunch date after trying for weeks to connect. We both were tired and overwhelmed. We both had our own stories of why we were stressed regarding the upcoming holidays. Then, my friend looked at me and exasperatingly asked, “Remember the magic of the holidays when we were little? Remember how excited you use to get when thinking of Thanksgiving and seeing all of your cousins and then knowing that Santa was just RIGHT AROUND the corner? Um…whatever happened to that?”
Really good question. I sat there for a second and with a tired, deadpan face said, “We became moms…creators of the magic.”
That statement, although well and good, is dang exhausting! I LOVE Christmas, but sometimes, in those secret moments when I’m hiding in my closet, with tinsel stuck in my hair, clinging to the idea that in less than a month I can FINALLY dust the furniture without moving either Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas decorations, I secretly wish I hadn’t set my child’s expectations so high at the beginning of it all. Is it just me? Because sometimes there’s not enough spiked eggnog to get me through one more night of forgetting to reposition the elf. (Can I get an Amen?) AND SPOILER ALERT: MY CHILD DOESN’T EVEN BELIVE IN SANTA, BUT SHE WANTS THE ELF MOVED. “Why?” One simple word: Traditions. And as fun as they sound, traditions can be overwhelming. It doesn’t just take a teenager rolling her eyes, but secretly expecting all her Christmas fun, to leave us mentally drained during the holidays. It could be little ones who are on such a schedule that the holidays just scream upcoming meltdowns due to lack of naps and late nights! There are many reasons we sometimes have a love/hate relationship with this time of year.
But through my salt dough decorations and cookie bake-offs haze, I am reminded of Nehemiah 6:3. “…I am doing a good work, and I cannot come down.” How does this apply to the holidays and all the traditions they entail? Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He was doing precious work and was under attack from Satan as he labored to protect what he loved. Aren’t we like Nehemiah and his love for Jerusalem? We want to protect our loved ones and keep our family’s walls sound. This isn’t always easy. Some of us are patching minor repairs and some of us are repairing gaping holes. So many things can rock a family. Whether it’s a loss of a spouse, a divorce, a job change, a recent move, a loss of a pet, an illness or injury…many things can tear down our walls and nothing exposes our vulnerability more than the glossy, shiny, tinsel adorned perfection of Christmas. Sometimes it looks so beautiful that you can’t help but compare. You walk around shops and look at all the pretty and think your Christmas is shaping up more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree. That’s okay. You are doing a good work. Fight for your family and your traditions. You may just be battling against a teenager who thinks EVERYTHING is cheesy and unnecessary. It isn’t. (And I can PROMISE YOU your teen secretly cherishes the comfort of tradition. They will cling to it when they are older.) And to those who must change traditions due to unforeseen pitfalls? That’s okay, too. Be flexible and (although I don’t encourage this often) plaster a smile on that pretty face of yours, even if it’s fake, and get through the holidays. (My motto when I was going through my divorce was “Fake it ‘til you make it!”) Sometimes that’s all we can do, but you won’t regret giving those memories to your kiddos. They will cherish them forever.
And for those who are thinking about starting some traditions…
Remember four little things:
It doesn’t take much to start one. (Seriously, all it takes is a simple declaration of “This is a new tradition we are starting!”)
- Kids (even big ones) LOVE them.
- They make family bonds stronger.
- More often than not, they will be the plaster that helps strengthen your family walls.
So, to all my weary mamas, keep heart! Parenting is exhausting. Sometimes we don’t see the fruit of our traditions until much later. Just remember: You are doing a good work. Don’t stop.