Of Kids and Christmas

One of the serious responsibilities of parenthood is pulling off Christmas. If you have a little posse of kids you already know what I am talking about. Weeks and weeks of mad-dashing and shopping and wrapping and brainstorming and decorating and planning and pouring eggnog and peeling baggy oranges and unsticking candy-canes from table tops and carpets and the bottom of hot chocolate mugs. Frantically realizing that you failed to mail packages in time, or that you forgot to order in time for free shipping, or that you still haven’t done the gingerbread house kit with the kids, and that you’ve even managed to fall four days behind on the Advent calendar.

Then there are all the things that you are trying to do differently than last year — the things learned from unfortunate experience. Correcting gift imbalances. Learning what kinds of stocking stuffers actually survive past Christmas afternoon.

And, of course, you are stressing yourself out with what seems like completely unnecessary work. Who wanted to sew everyone new pajamas in the first place? Who thought we should be knitting the Christmas stockings? Why is it after midnight and I am still up making caramels? What is the point of messing around with a real tree, with lights, with sick amounts of baking?

On top of this, basic parenting through the Christmas season can be a real minefield, too. Sometimes the kids start being greedy, sometimes things that you wanted to be special aren’t even noticed. Sometimes no one wants to sing Christmas carols around the dinner table.

Not Exactly a Catalog Shot

Christmas comes to the real families of this real world. Often, it doesn’t look like a catalog shot, but more like a blooper reel. Turkeys burn. Gravy clots into lumps. Presents that you thought came with batteries didn’t. You end up presenting someone’s gift in a garbage bag. Kids might get grabby around the Christmas tree. People might not like the gift you thought they would like, and they can even be too tired to pretend. Headaches know no seasonal bounds. Life happens.

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