Christmas means making memories and continuing traditions and enjoying time together. And I go into my favorite season looking forward to the excitement of it all!
Yet the holiday experience seems to change as kids get older – leaving a different reality than the one I find myself fantasizing.
It seems that the enthusiasm seems to dwindle and the excitement for each Holiday idea gets met with rolling eyes and “do we have to?” comments.
Now I’m not saying that I have tons of Holiday traditions or that I “have” to have certain things done during Christmas, but there are some things that make Christmas “feel” more special.
Like decorating the Christmas tree together, as a family, with each person participating.
My Ideal thoughts play out like this: we all go to pick out the “perfect” tree, not too big, but a good size for the living room....dad brings the tree into the living room setting it in it’s place...we all grab the ornament boxes, turn on the Christmas music, laugh and smile as we put each memorable hand-made ornament on the tree...turn off all of the lights, grab the eggnog and cookies, and sit together as a family admiring the beautiful tree while enjoying the time together!
I know, I’m a little sick in the head to think this way. But somehow, no matter how many years go by, I always catch myself so surprised when the nights’ events turn out WRONG!
Reality: the bickering begins as no one can agree on the right tree...dad brings the tree into the house after fighting to get it straight in the stand for 20 minutes...the Christmas music is put on low so the football game can be watched by dad who is telling everyone where to put the ornaments from the comfort of the couch 6 feet away...the puppy is chewing on the light cord or choking on the pine needles...children are fighting over putting “their” ornaments on the tree, the teenagers are texting and asking when we are going to be done so they can go to their rooms...and by the end of the night, I’m the only one left in the dark room with the half-decorated tree, boxes and paper scattered everywhere, a cookie in one hand and a glass of SPIKED-eggnog in the other – staring at the sleeping man on the couch, wondering where my Christmas tradition went!
I know, I’m complaining – but it won’t last long
This year, I decided to use the advent calendar shared with us by our foreign exchange student a few years back, and surprise the kids each day with little trinkets and candy as they counted the days till Christmas. Now in my head, I pictured excitement and anticipation as they opened the daily pocket, happy faces and grateful hugs and kisses would be given to me, and they would go enjoy their little gift as they looked forward to the next day.
Reality has a way of stomping out such ideal thoughts when it comes to having 2 teenagers and 2 pre-teens! So reality went something like: yelling at each other for picking out the candy before the others were ready, telling me they don’t like that particular candy, the 2 older ones telling the 2 younger ones they could have the toy because it was dumb, and by the end of the 25 day countdown they had to be reminded just to get the stuff out of the pocket!
Now, I know when it comes to having kids, especially teenagers, our “ideal” will never be reached and we should just learn to be content with any happiness or joy we find in life.
But, since I’m not a “should” type of person, I like to think that I can keep my ideals and my Holiday spirit and not lower my expectations simply because I have teens and pre-teens.
I give myself the freedom to get irritated and scream and yell over the most mundane things because that’s me. Because I can also look back and laugh at myself for being neurotic and a bit obsessive.
And I can do this because I know that at the end of the day, my kids – no matter how big they get – still enjoy cuddling up with me, snacking on popcorn, and watching their favorite Christmas movies next to this year's Christmas tree that died 3 days AFTER we bought it! Stupid Tree!!
That Reality will ALWAYS be my Ideal.