This article is an inside look into how I’m managing my Christmas expectations.
Every holiday season I go through some level of feeling that maybe we aren’t quite “seizing the season” enough by enjoying all of the wonderful activities there are offered in our community for children.
On any given day there are a handful of adventures we could seek out and memories we could make, but realistically doing all of these activities would not only drain our bank account, but also drain our energy. What we would potentially seek out as a load of holiday fun could potentially result in just the opposite, which is holiday burnout and exhaustion.
Last December, I was very sick from the throes of my first trimester, so our holiday activities were minimal. I felt so guilty that we weren’t diving into more “magical” activities with our five year old and two year old who would surely soak up the joy of it all, but the sun came up on December 26th even though we hadn’t taken advantage of as many holidays outings as our friends.
And one thing I learned from that experience was the my kids had no less of a magical holiday season. We picked a couple of things to enjoy as a family, continued some very sweet, new family traditions, and put a check mark in the “Christmas 2018” box. I look back on Christmas from last year and remember how very sweet it was, not all of the things we “missed” (ahem, chose not to do).
This week, as our family has been 100% down for the count with the flu while everyone around us has enjoyed Christmas parades and Santa visits, I snuffed those feelings that began to creep in that we aren’t doing enough to make this month special. GET A GRIP, ERICA. It’s only the first week of December!
But we parents do that, don’t we? We see activities on social media and sometimes wonder if we’re doing enough. I’m usually really good at taming the social media comparison game (I learned a looooong time ago that everybody has their own unique struggles and issues we don’t see), but the holidays have always made me feel like there is more more more I should do for and with my kids. I think it’s because I get panic-y that they’re getting older and I only have “x” number of years left to do that stuff. Stop growing up, children!
I had a thought this week though about what I hope my daughters remember from Christmastime, which made me think about what I realistically remember and treasure from my own childhood Christmases. The things I remember aren’t extraordinary. As an adult, I have no clue how much money my parents spent on our presents or what activities they chose to skip out on with us. But here is what I do remember.
Christmas Expectations: What I remember from my childhood Christmases
I remember going to church every Christmas Eve and getting to hold a candle during Silent Night (the hot wax dripping beneath the paper holder), lifting it in the church during the final verse. It was so beautiful and calming, and even as a child I got chills from this moment.
I remember coming home from Christmas Eve service and my mom putting a bunch of store-bought appetizers in the oven. The mozzarella sticks and Bagel Bites were my favorite. We would be in random non-matching pajamas, gather in the living room, eat appetizers (I can still remember the Bagel Bites burning my tongue), and wait with eager anticipation to open gifts.
I remember my dad making us pause every year before we opened gifts to say a family prayer, thanking God for how fortunate we were for these gifts, each other, and His birth.
I remember getting my first cell phone in 8th grade (it rang under the tree!), my favorite Christmas gift ever. 😉
I remember my Dad gifting my mom a new diamond ring one year and the look of shock on her face.
I also remember my Dad gifting her the infamous picture collage of her late parents. Tears tears tears.
I remember driving on Horseshoe Trail, a street in Huntsville with several houses that went all out with Christmas lights. I looked forward to going every year, and now my parents take my kids! How cool.
I remember doing karaoke with my cousins at my grandmother’s house, belting out Christmas tunes.
I also remember my grandmother hiring Santa to come visit us at her home during our family Christmas with all of the gifts she had given him ahead of time. I believe she did this for two or three years, and it was magical.
I also remember my absolute favorite Christmas decoration my mom would set out every year, which is a statute of Santa kneeling before baby Jesus in the manger.
When I think about this list, it’s not lost on me how random it is. I actually can’t wait to hear what my parents will think when they read this list. I bet they’ll be surprised (and happy) by the things I remember that brought me so much joy.
This list reminds me that my daughters have no expectations for what the holiday season looks like. I want them to remember being together and how much we enjoyed the season as a family. I want them to remember Jamie and I as joyful, non-stressed out parents who weren’t stretching ourselves too thin. I want them to remember all of the opportunities we tried to teach them about Jesus and the meaning behind Christmas. This is how I’m managing my Christmas expectations.
I hope this list and this post encourages you to enjoy this month with gladness and to shed expectations that are more than likely self-imposed. Engage in traditions YOU want to do, do activities that fit YOUR budget and your timeline, and remember that December 26th will come even if this month is a difficult one. xoxo
How are you managing your Christmas expectations? What are a couple of things you remember from Christmas growing up that your parents might be surprised you remember and treasure?
Are you looking for good, easy Christmas recipes? Check out my favorite Christmas recipes here.
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to three little girls (ages 7, 4, and 1) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo