Here it comes…
(cue Jaws music)
…the pumpkin carving, the parties, the family pictures, the turkey roasting, the elfcapades, the cookie decorating – the holiday season is officially here! If you’re anything like me, there’s a mixture of emotions that emerge when summer draws to a close and I hear the phrase “holiday season” for the first time. First comes excitement and visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, followed by a spoonful of overwhelmed – and if I’m being truthful, a smidgen of dread.
Let’s be honest: we moms pretty much run the “holiday show”. Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s totally my jam. The holidays are joyful and whimsical, and there’s so much pure goodness to be celebrated between the months of October and December. But, that holiday season for us mamas? It’s work, girl. Work! We make the magic happen, create the memories, and stress over what might be the perfect Christmas morning breakfast. Most of us want to create dreamy traditions for our kids. We want scrumptious holiday dinners, and pictures of faces lit up with joy on Christmas morning.
But, when it’s all come and gone and you settle into January, what do you look back on?
The frazzled mommy that just survived a big ole’ holiday hurricane, or the gratitude of a season full of meaningful moments and time well spent?
To be completely honest, I have been guilty of the prior. In the past, I’ve thought that the more excitement I cultivated and the more traditions I created, the better. I wanted to give my all to my family during the holiday season – all my talents, all my energy, all the creativity I could muster. But, a couple of years ago, something changed in me when I had a moment of stark realization one Christmas morning.
I was tired.
Because I was tired, I couldn’t be fully present. My heart was fully present, but my mind and body were weary. The holiday hustle had been too much, and I begged for January to come for the sake of normalcy and simplicity to return. As I sat on our living room floor covered with wrapping paper, I vowed to myself that next year would be different.
Since then, I’ve approached our holiday seasons with a little more intention and care. I guess you might call it a “less is more” holiday season if you will.
Less hustle, less cooking, less stress. More giggling, more music, more togetherness.
You see, when it comes to the holidays, I’ve decided I don’t want to be the “busy, magnificent multi-tasker” kind of mom. Nope. I think I’d rather be ordinary and present than extraordinary and drained. As a young mom, I also recognize that what I exemplify for my son each holiday season will be what he remembers and carries on into his own little family someday. I don’t want him to equate the holidays with hustling. I want him to remember the stillness – the long mornings in our pajamas, hands curled around our coffee cups, playing games and relishing each others’ company. I don’t want him to remember his mom scurrying and pushing from one duty to the next; I want him to remember me in the living room. Living and enjoying – not tasking. Not to-do listing.
Because, the holidays contain those impossibly sweet moments that I find myself concentrating so hard to permanently imbed in my mind.
Remember this image, this feeling, their faces, the smells, the loveliness of it all. It all exists in each of our holiday seasons, and it’s up to us to be still long enough to appreciate it.
One of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou says, “The wisest thing you can ever do is be present in the present…gratefully.” I have found such joy in cultivating the ability to keep it simple, to be still inside the walls of our home, and to stop DOING. To enjoy life right where I am – messy and spontaneous and imperfect as it might be. I’m learning to clear the schedule and say “no” a little more in order to protect a precious space for what matters.
And, this space that remains? It is life-giving.
It is rhythmic and beautiful and full of love and connection. So, what will your holiday space look like this year? Think it over and make it your own. Then, go do your thang, you magic-makin’ mama!