Every year, the same thing happens. I wait until the last minute to finish Christmas shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating, and everything else that December-induced nostalgia makes me thing I should be doing. And every year I promise myself that I will do better next year, knowing full well that this has as much chance of happening as my winning the New York Marathon. I don’t know why I feel compelled to assure myself that next year will be different. I think it actually gives me more stress, worrying about why I didn’t plan ahead like I told myself I would. The only person who knows that I didn’t get that 14th batch of cookies baked, or that other pair of socks knitted, or the switch plates scrubbed, is me. I want the kids to have a perfect, candy-colored memory, traditions to carry down to their own families, something to hold close in their hearts that they can take out and examine when they are having a bad day. I worry that all I’m giving them is a memory of me stomping around the house, covered in flour, the oven timer beeping in the background, yelling at them to get their clothes to the laundry room if they expect to have clothes to wear tomorrow, for crying out loud!
And then Christmas is over, and it was just like every other year. I have dozens of cookies that no one remembered that I baked, the living room is a mess and no one wants to help clean it up, and I am exhausted. But the kids are happy, and we snuggle up on the couch to watch Iron Man for the millionth time, and we all pretend that we don’t have to go back to school and work in just a few days. Turns out, just like every other year, Toby and Mason have great memories no matter how hard I worked to mess everything up.
I don’t think my planning better will really make a difference. I think the stress, last minute shopping, and messy living room ARE our traditions. Norman Rockwell it is not, but it’s ours, and maybe that’s all that matters.