*This article was originally published 12/7/14 on MetroSpirit.com as part of my monthly column ‘The Woodchips’
I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like last Christmas was just, like, a week ago. I mean, I just deflated the damn penguin and snowman blow-up thingies in our front yard, stuffed them into trash bags and chucked them into the attic and now it’s time to drag them out again? What happened? How long have I been sleeping? Just kidding- I have 6 kids I don’t sleep.
Christmastime always sucker punches me. I know it’s coming but I keep hoping that, like the weird clicking noise in my shoulder that time, if I ignore it it’ll go away. Don’t get me wrong- I go through the motions- I listen to the 24 hour Christmas music station (except when they play that awful Beach Boys “Merry Christmas Baby” song *shudder*), we buy a tree, string lights, hang wreaths, bust out our multiple nativities and I spray an obscene amount of Christmas tree scented room spray and my husband gets mad. I love the energy of Christmastime, don’t you? When you’re out and about, people seem to be extra nice and bouncy-until you steal their parking spot or make them wait longer than 12 seconds for anything. Then you run the risk of at least getting yelled at and maybe being poked with a knife. I’m not sure why people don’t shop exclusively online- you don’t have to wear pants and you probably won’t get stabbed much. Nothing could be awesomer!
The thing is, though, I feel like I don’t really do a great job at really reveling in the beauty and magic of all the good stuff the season offers. I’m an adult now and somewhere along the way I unlearned how to appreciate the enchantment and wonderment of this time of year. I let my parental angst get in the way. Being laser focused on getting through any particular event or the practicality of life in the midst of chaos is where I stumble. I’ve lost the ability to be in awe.
We go together as a family to pick out the perfect tree but after studying ten trees that all look exactly a-freaking-like and refereeing a few sibling fights while we’re there, I’m feeling hostile and homicidal. I just want to go home.
We take the kids to look at Christmas lights. One of them farts in the car, all hell breaks lose and the twinkly fun is over. I’m back to refereeing and I just want to go home.
We should bake Christmas cookies! All of us! In the kitchen! At one time! Only, having 8 people all up in our too-small kitchen makes me realize that I might be a little bit of a control freak (Rudolph’s nose wasn’t a snowflake, kid. Duh.) I think it should be sweet and agreeable, like those Publix commercials and when it’s not at all like that, I end up loosing my cool. I’ve ruined the fun that everyone else was having and I just want to go home.
Oh, but wait- I am home. And this place is filled with everyone I love the most in this world. And these kids who live in this home still notice the magic of the season and the awe and anticipation that it brings. They quickly forget about the fights and the farts and the yelling and the mess. They’ve already moved on to the next moment while I’m over here being all angsty.
It’s children who get it. They’ve got it all figured out and it’s just a natural state for them.
I wish I could suspend reality during this season. I want to see Christmas they way kids do- sparkly and precious and full of joyful expectation.
I don’t want my frustration to be what they remember. I do want my attitude to mirror the looks on their faces when we plug in the lights on the tree for the first time. When they bite into the cookie that they decorated all by themselves with 3 inches of red sugar spilling all over the floor. When they are giggling and elbowing each other in the ribs to be the first one downstairs on Christmas morning. And when they rip and claw at festive wrapping paper and boxes like hungry- ass bears just waking from hibernation.
I have the rest of my parental life to be tightly wound and stressed. Surely I can manage a few weeks of respite?
It’ll be a challenge, but I think I’ll start with avoiding crowds, parking lots, pants, and being shanked. I just want to stay home with the Woodchips, anyway. They’ll show me how to do the season right.