Last night, as I was sitting on the couch with my husband discussing the many things left to do on my “Christmas Will Be Ruined If I Don’t Get This Done List,” it happened…
Making its appearance for this first time this holiday season was my ol’ pal, Christmas Anxiety. Don’t get me wrong; anxiety is a daily visitor for me, but Christmas Anxiety always feels a little different. It’s anxiety set ablaze served with a side of guilt for feeling anxious during this special time of year.
What mama feels anything but pure bliss during the holidays with her precious little ones? Can I be honest? This one.
I’m not sure exactly what it is about this time of year that flares my anxiety up so much. Maybe it’s the hustle and bustle of the season or the 20 hours of darkness each day. Maybe it’s all the energy that goes into shopping for everyone or the extra cluttered feeling of having Christmas decorations out. (Perhaps I do have some idea of why my anxiety increases around December 1st.) But one thing I know for sure: the expectations I put on how Christmas should look and feel are doing me NO favors.
I grew up with amazing parents and a mother that went above and beyond for Christmas. My mom didn’t grow up with much and would be the first to tell you she gave me the Christmases she wished she’d had as a child. I loved Christmas as a child and while I can’t recall many specifics, I remember they were truly magical. Way to set the bar high, Mom! I want my children to remember their childhood Christmases the same way. I don’t care if they look back and remember how their Mama tried to sell her kidney on the black market for a PS5, but I do want them to remember the warm, magical atmosphere their parents created.
So, how does a loving mama with no real superpowers make this magical, euphoric holiday happen?
The game plan for the past several years has been this: she overplans, sets unrealistic expectations, and buys the children more gifts than they need. And the thing is: this plan works year after year to give my kids a wonderful Christmas, but it also brings me major anxiety. Mamas, we’re forgetting a major thing: we deserve a magical Christmas too! The one thing I don’t always give me kids on Christmas day is a happy, relaxed and fully present mother, and I suspect that may have been my Mom’s secret weapon all along.
Mamas, let’s give ourselves the ultimate gift: a Christmas where we set zero expectations for how it should look and feel.
Of course, we are the mamas and the show must go on…decorate the house, buy those gifts, bake those cookies, but let’s try not to have any preconceived standards on what will make it a success. Let’s loosen the reins and even leave a little room for surprises. We only get so many Christmas mornings with our babies and I’m determined to not let expectations and anxiety play a starring role in my Christmas this year.
Here it is folks, the one expectation I have for Christmas: a day spent with my little family, filled with love and quality time together.
My kids aren’t going to be in matching, monogrammed Christmas pajamas and this Southern mama is going to be okay with that. I’ll make breakfast and it may not be snowman shaped pancakes, but my kids will be okay with that. My kids will open all their gifts and it will be only at that same moment that my husband finds out what “we” bought them for Christmas. My husband will realize I bought a few more gifts than I said I would and he will (eventually) be okay with that.