Some years I get completely overwhelmed with the holidays.
When the kids are out of school, just trying to keep up with work deadlines—not to mention normal routines like exercise and cooking at home…it’s crazy-making.
Pile on holiday gifting and concerts and parties and getting the house clean for guests and, yeah. It’s fun! And exhausting.
At the library earlier this week I considered letting my son re-log in to the Kid’s Place computer using his sister’s login so he could get another 60 minutes of Animal Jam and I could finish my work. Then maybe I’d let him switch back over to his own account. Then hers again, if nobody was waiting.
So this year I decided to take a few snaps of funny things, silly little moments, to remind myself to just chill out.
Maybe these images will help you dial it back a notch too if, like me, you tend to get caught up in trying to make everything perfect. Even if we’re being “good” for Santa, or party guests, or church people…we’re still ourselves during this season, right?
Here are some tips, from my home to yours, for keeping it real during the holidays.
1. Don’t decorate until you’re darn good and ready.
Also, don’t un-decorate from two holidays ago if you don’t want to.
2. Go ahead and get sick.
It’s not like you have a choice anyway!
A stomach bug got my son on the day we decided to drive up to Pollack Pines and cut down a Christmas tree. He stayed home from school the following Monday and Tuesday. Then of course in Tuesday morning’s wee hours I got sick too. At home that day I kept trying to find quiet places to curl into the fetal position. Meanwhile my son was in that jumping-around-feeling-much-better-but-still-contagious phase.
3. Invent your own family traditions.
One of ours is the annual Stretching of the Swim Shorts. Come one, come all, let’s see how long these swim jammers are now! Who’s got the measuring tape?
The backstory, as best I can tell it, is: some time ago my brother-in-law’s old swim team shorts came into our possession. They date from about 1994, give or take.
Probably his parents were having a clear-out and, always prone to keep things in circulation rather than throwing away, they mistakenly gave the shorts back to number one son (my husband) instead of number two son (the one with the sweet 50 yard butterfly).
In preparation for moving house, either my husband or I used the shorts, along with assorted t-shirts and towels, to cushion some odd-sized Christmas decorations in a moving box. We had a good laugh the first time we discovered the shorts among the ornaments. So we just made them part of the permanent Christmas collection.
As I remove ornaments from the box each year, I ceremonially take out the shorts and allow everyone to touch them. The spandex is gradually breaking down, making the fabric oily-sticky in texture. Also the weave of the fibers keeps loosening up as the elastic fails. Thus, we like to document how much the shorts have “grown” in the past year by taking a picture. And then I ball them up and put them right back in the Christmas box.
4. It’s not the holidays without delicious food.
For example, make a lovely rich soup with turkey stock you’ve frozen from Thanksgiving. Maybe thaw the stock first in case it didn’t freeze in a shape that fits your cooking vessel.
5. Take in a live performance.
Volun-tell your oldest child (giant one on right) for said live performance. But tell her it’s the last year she has to do it. Really.