Mommy Bah Humbug
Every year, I become excited for the upcoming holidays. I make plans. I organize festive activities. We bake cookies. We watch Christmas movies and drink hot coffee. We drive around town and find Christmas lights. We read Polar Express and sing Christmas carols. We build and decorate a gingerbread house. It’s a time of year that we engulf our senses into the magic.
The holidays aren’t the same without fighting the crowds to see Santa, only to have a picture with the toddler on the floor crying. Ornaments fall from the tree and break. The countdown to Christmas turns into an hourly update. The long moments at the registers to buy one item. The last minute scrounging to get teachers the perfect gift for putting up with your kid. The yelling and silly faces you capture as you’re trying to take the perfect picture for Christmas cards.
My husband and I spend countless nights browsing online and figuring out what to buy our boys. Our goal: buy something they need, something they want, something to read, and something to wear. But, it never fails, I become overwhelmed with the options. The countless sales that lure me. The Christmas Wish List that is always changing. It’s a season that brings excitement and chaos.
But then something happens. Conversations about Christmas with friends turn into insecurities. I scrutinize the wish list. I obsess over the bank account. What can we put off until after Christmas? I check every website to see what offers the best deals. My anxiety increases. Will they be disappointed they didn’t get an XBOX ONE? I beat myself up for not saving more money. I start asking my friends what their budget is for each kid. What’s the average parents spend?
Every year, I let doubt fill my mind. I become obsessive. I become embarrassed about sharing our tree with their Christmas presents under it online. I remember the year before, my newsfeed flooded with living rooms full of gifts. I believe others will see that we didn’t spend a lot. I fight the internal struggle between realistic acceptations with dreams and desires.
Christmas morning, I wake up anxious. I hope we did enough. I hope they are happy. My husband put on a pot of coffee and we sit on the couch looking back and forth from the tree to the hallway. Did my husband have the same worries? He fills the emptiness with banter about how he can’t wait to play with this gift with the boys. I rearrange the presents and stockings. It has to be magical.
And then I hear it. The door opens. Snickers erupt.
And then I see it. Sleepy eyes become large. Zombie like walks turn into runs.
Slowly, my fears and worries disappear. The boys make a mad dash to their Christmas piles, declaring their amazement and wonder. Daddy honkers down on the floor, laughing from excitement. One by one they open their gifts. Yelling at each other, “LOOK!!! Oh my God … I’ve always wanted one of these!” I’m submerged in the aroma of anticipation of the morning.
Presents are scattered on the floor and exchanged between the boys. Trash has made itself home under the couches and in piles outside the garbage bag. My husband climbs back onto the couch and grabs my hand, “This was perfect.” Yes. It was perfect. I no longer have doubts about self-embarrassment regarding their new toys. I silently laugh at the nonsense that I let flood my emotions.
We did enough. We provided for them. I’m not a failure because their Christmas stash may be smaller than others. I’m not a failure because we couldn’t afford the last techno gadget. I’m not a failure because their stocking was stuffed with underwear, toothbrushes and socks. Their faces were not filled with disappointment. Their faces were not filled with embarrassment. They were happy. They were surprised. They were grateful.