When I was a young mother of two small boys, Christmas was crazily chaotic. December flew by in a mad jumble of holiday concerts (both choir AND band), classroom parties, quick trips to the mall, and cold nights spent watching hockey at the ice rink. I often plied them with pizza or McDonald’s because I barely had time to breathe, let alone cook a healthy meal. Sometimes I felt as though I was failing at the whole Christmas tradition game. Riddled with guilt I would try to squeeze in an afternoon of cookie baking, thinking this would be the holiday memory they would carry into adulthood, but usually the little traitors disappeared to the basement after five minutes of attempting to decorate, licking green and red icing off their fingers as they escaped the mess.
When I look back at those days now, though, I know I was doing the best I could. My boys have their own backpacks of holiday memories from visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus in Central Park to jumping with unbridled glee when they saw their presents under the tree. One Christmas we flew out to California to visit my brother’s family and they got to throw a football around on the beach while everyone back at home was shoveling out from a huge snowstorm.
Now when I look around at other young mothers rushing around, trying to make everything Pinterest perfect, I want to whisper, “Slow down, my loves. These precious days with your children will be over in an instantaneous flicker. Cherish the small, unimportant moments, not the grandiose and glittery ones. Put down your phones. Look at their faces. Listen to their sweet voices. Know your time with them is short and exquisite and magical. You do not have to create the “perfect” holiday. Just giggle with them and have fun. Always, always remember to have fun.”
“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – Mary Ellen Chase