Calm The F* Down for the Holidays

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So, after living abroad for 5 years, one thing I can honestly say about Americans is that we have a strong tendency to freak the f*ck out over the Holidays.  This as it turns out is actually pretty counter intuitive to enjoying said Holidays.

Want to know how South Africans celebrate the Holidays?  They spend an exorbitant amount of time lying on beaches, swimming, cooking food over fire and enjoying adult beverages.  You know what they dont spend time doing?  Freaking out over creative ways to move an imaginary Elf doing weird shit around their house at night.

See, I’m all for parents raising their kids the way they best see fit.  I’m not here to rain on anyone’s Elf enjoyment days.  If you wanna Elf, Elf away.  Its safe to say that your family’s enjoyment of the Elf is not hurting anyone.

But here’s the thing…I haven’t encountered one parent lately that isn’t stressed to the point of spontaneous combustion about the Holidays.  We are stressed about giving gifts: too much?  too little?  too expensive?  too cheap?  We are stressed about seeing our in-laws: driving with the kids?  up to late? sticking to the schedule? spoiling? or having fun?  And we are stressed about parties:  home made or store bought?  how many activities?  how many supplies?  do I do games?  did I invite enough kids?  did I invite too many?  what if so and so is offended…the list never ends.

My solution?  Cut some of that stressful shit right out.  Cut it the f*ck out. And then, take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back and calm the f*ck down.  Why?  Because a lot of the shit we feel so stressed out about and compelled to do isn’t actually important in terms of our children’s overall enjoyment of the season.  A lot of it has been dictated to us by corporations trying to make a quick buck off of our love of all things Christmas and Hanukkah, of family and togetherness and seasonal yule logs, cookie bakes and the like.  Yearly commemorative Hallmark Christmas ornaments, anyone?  The never ending loop of commercial-set-perfection drives us to the brink of insanity as we constantly race to an unattainable destination.

So, here is a list I made for myself to remind me how to enjoy the holidays with kids:

  1.  Calm the f*ck down about the gifts.  You know what kids need?  Your time, your undivided attention and your patience.  You know where you buy that?  You don’t, you moron, you disconnect and you are present.  Plus, you already bought them each one thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear and one thing they read.  YOU ARE DONE, RELAX.
  2. Calm the f*ck down about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day plans.  You know why?  Because nothing ever goes the way you plan it anyway, and if you just plan on being present and laughing and hugging and sharing joy, what else do you need to do anyway?  KEEP IT MOVING.
  3.  Calm the f*ck down about trying to make everything perfect, all the time.  I know, I know, you know you can’t do that but you still try and then you kick yourself silently all day long when everything isn’t perfect, right?  Yep, that’s what I thought.  And what does that do?  Yep, that negativity steals your joy.  And who are you robbing when you steal your own joy?  Yep, your kids.  So all together now, LIFE IS MESSY PUT DOWN THE PAPER TOWELS AND SMILE.
  4. Calm the f*ck down about what everyone else is doing.  I know, you’ll never admit to worrying about what other people do.  You know that comparison is the ultimate thief of joy, but…I wonder if my daughter will notice that some of her friends got American Girl dolls this year…hhmmm. STOP IT.  The only other people you should be thinking about this Holiday season are those you can help.  Yes, I’m talking food drives, toy drives, kick starters for kids with cancer or other terrible awful things that no child or parent should have to deal with.  You focus your silly worrying about other people on people you can help and you will be on the receiving end of all that joy you lost before you remembered how to keep it.  AMEN!

When kids see their parents happy and joyful, that cheer envelopes them too.  So sit back, put your feet up on that crumb covered coffee table, pour yourself a damn drink and enjoy it.   Happy Holidays, everyone!!!

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