If there’s any time of year when moms display their superpowers, surely it’s around the holidays! I mean, not only are MOMS doing most of the planning, decorating, shopping, wrapping, and baking that we so often associate with a delightful Christmas, but for weeks they are also the ones managing top secret information, regularly speaking in code, and finding covert hiding places for gifts. (Or else offering enough effective threats to keep nosy kids away from them.)
But with this great power to influence the Christmas season for good, there also comes an ability to impact it negatively.
Yep. Moms, we have the power to ruin Christmas. Or at least to ruin certain aspects of it…
Now I don’t think we would ever do so intentionally, but you know as well as I do that all the busyness and the obligations of the Christmas season come with a lot of STRESS, and if we don’t handle that stress properly, well, it can get ugly.
So how might someone so charming and lovely as a homeschooling mom possibly ruin Christmas? By doing one of these things…
1. By obsessing over her homeschooling schedule.
Yes, I know you have books to get through. Yes, I know you wanted to get to a convenient stopping place before taking a break. Yes, I realize dear Orville won’t graduate this year if he doesn’t complete his work.
But it’s also Christmas. Never underestimate the distracting effect all the sparkle and the music and the holiday busyness can have upon your children, including your teens. Don’t make the mistake of bearing down too hard on kids who are already struggling to focus, and don’t sweat the schedule that’s thrown off by holiday events and obligations. You can make up for the lost time later on.
Remember one of the most important things we homeschoolers tout–that homeschooling is about relationships more than about academics. That should never be truer than at Christmastime.
2. By obsessing over her house.
Few things can ruin Christmas faster than a woman having a meltdown over the cleanliness of her home. (Not that I would know anything about this, mind you. Eh-hmm.)
But you don’t understand, Tanya! My clean-freak mother-in-law is coming for Christmas and she will be doing the white glove test EVERYWHERE!
So let her test away! A little dust, (or even a lot of it!) won’t make you any less of a woman or make you any less married to her son. A clean house is important, but being consumed by a desire to project the image of perfect housekeeper and hostess IS NOT. Just don’t be so consumed by your clean-house-mania that you make everyone in your immediate family miserable.
3. By obsessing over the gift buying.
(Obsessing. You’re seeing the theme here, right?)
It’s amazing, isn’t it, the way the season of giving can so easily turn into the season of semi-forced generosity which, in case you didn’t know it, isn’t actually GIVING at all. Of course we want to give gifts to the people we love, but when the gift buying becomes more about appeasing selfishness or about obligatory gift exchanges than about giving from the heart, then we’re making a huge mistake in the way we’re celebrating Christmas.
Don’t ruin Christmas by plunging the family into financial trouble every December. Don’t embarrass the family, either, by becoming the Momzilla Christmas shopper, willing to risk life and limb and dignity in pursuit of certain gifts. And don’t become the grumpy giver – one who grumbles about every gift exchange she’s willingly agreed to be a part of.
Keep it simple: Give what you can afford to give and give it from the heart, or don’t give at all. It’s that easy.
4. By obsessing over her to-do list.
So you promised to bake two desserts for the co-op Christmas party and make a tray of those little stuffed jalapenos for your husband’s office party. You’re in charge of refreshments for the live nativity at church and of course there’s the family Christmas where Uncle Ted will be expecting some of your peanut brittle on top of the other six dishes you’ll be expected to make.
Oh, and you still have those costumes to finish for the church Christmas program! And your niece’s school play is this Friday. And you aren’t done shopping. And you haven’t even thought about the wrapping yet. And then there’s the…
Sound familiar? For future reference, learning to say NO can actually be a very useful skill, especially around Christmastime. Often our over-commitment is born of a heartfelt desire to do good and help others, but then it’s our families who suffer for our stress. While agreeing to appear at every function or volunteering to help at every event can seem like a good idea in the beginning, it’s only a good thing so far as it isn’t negatively affecting our families.
And as for the things you’re already obligated to: Take a deep breath and work through them one by one, trying always to keep in mind the real reason we celebrate Christmas.
Just in my own lifetime I’ve seen such a change in the way we celebrate Christmas. For so many, it’s a time of stress and little else, which I think is so sad.
We can blame it on society, or even on our own families, but having a good Christmas that focuses on the right things, is really about US and the decisions we choose to make.
I’m choosing to make the right decisions. Or I’m trying to, at least, because the last thing in the world I want to do is ruin Christmas.
Have you ever been guilty of ruining Christmas? What steps do you take to manage holiday stress?