Yes, friends. I had a mantra on repeat inside my head this year. And it had nothing to do with sugar plum fairies, Santa, or cookies. It wasn’t anything along the lines of “I’m just so happy!” or “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”. Nope. This year’s mantra was…
Baby Jesus is still going to be born on Christmas Day, no matter what else goes to crap.
Sounds almost Griswoldian in its enthusiasm, doesn’t it? But I tell you, it pulled me through.
This Christmas was fine.
How’s that for holly jolly, folks? Christmas 2018 won’t go down in the History Book of Family Lore as one of the best and I’m sure it won’t be one of the worst. But I think it might win the award for Holiday that Didn’t Go the Way You Thought It Would.
Everyone was healthy which, when you have four kids, is quite a miracle. My parents came to our house to celebrate Christmas with us for the first time in our 19 and a half years of marriage. We really, truly enjoyed our time with them. I was able to sing at Midnight Mass with my choir family. The kids loved all of their gifts, some of which came as true surprises to them, which is always fun. And, I’ll agree, all of that sounds amazing, right?
In fact, it sounds pretty Instagram-perfect, doesn’t it? So, obviously, if you check out my account, that is exactly what you’ll see. Pictures of beautiful trees, lots of wrapped presents, delicious cookies in my stories. Images of a pretty church, smiling family, and an unexpected gift in my feed.
But there’s always more to the story than we put on social media, isn’t there?
Behind the Scenes
It’s so natural that we want to put our very best foot forward when it comes to holidays. Especially Christmas! As moms, we never want these days to seem anything less than perfect in our children’s memories. We want them to live in magic and beauty and wonder for as long as they can. And that’s all well and good.
But sometimes, I wonder…can that do more harm than good? Not to them, necessarily, but to us? Are we so drawn into the task of creating perfection for our families that we forget our own humanity and needs?
So, what are some things you won’t see pictures of in my feed? What instances were as much a part of this Christmas as the presents and the smiles?
Well, you won’t see the added stress of a sick kid and a family member who needed emergency surgery. You won’t see extra work days for me or final exams for the kids. There are no pictures of the time we weren’t able to spend together as a family or the long hours my husband spent working hard for all of us. You won’t see the fact that I wasn’t able to bake anything for our family until the 22nd, when I’m usually done with the freezer filled by the 15th. Nor will you see the fact that I didn’t wrap a single gift until the 23rd….nope, not a single one.
Also not recorded for posterity is the fact that I literally got so stressed out that I grabbed the first pair of shoes I saw and marched straight out of the house at one point. Just left! I’m not sure I’d ever done that before. But I knew myself well enough to know that if I hadn’t gotten out, gotten some fresh air, and prayed the rosary while I walked, I would’ve 100% blown my top.
So, I’m calling it quits.
Yep. I’m calling it quits on acting like things needed to be perfect this year. I will not deny that I spent the entire time stressed out to the max, feeling like I was disappointing everyone, and mad that it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to, darn it. (Of course, I should admit that all of this disappointment was manufactured in my own dramatic head aided in no small part by one mega-dose of PMS.)
Instead, I’m going to acknowledge the crap for what it was and try to concentrate on what went right. First and foremost? That once again, that we were able to celebrate the birth of our savior.
Jesus came and was a light in the darkness. Long ago and again through the ages, the light and hope He brings to human hearts has been the saving grace. It was for me and I hope for you, as well. That silly mantra I repeated over and over and over again ad nauseum (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) worked for me.
So, friends, if your Christmas didn’t look or feel quite like you wanted it to…
If the reality of what came to be didn’t live up to the ideal you’d created in your head…
If PMS got you down or a kid was sick or that certain package didn’t arrive in the mail on time…
No matter what did or didn’t go right this year, just remember…
Baby Jesus was still born, no matter what else went to crap.
And that is all that really matters, in the end. Amen? Amen.