Holidays Got You Down?

Ho, ho, oh no they didn’t!

Don’t let the holidays stress you out. For starters, it’s temporary. The holidays don’t last forever…you can do this! Second, if you keep in mind a few simple things, I promise you it will be easier than you ever thought possible. To help you improve your holiday cheer, check out my latest contribution to MomCave TV! You can also read the full text below. Cheers, bitches!

5 Things to Remember When Trying to Survive the Holidays

The holidays can be hard for so many of us. It’s as though all of the dysfunction ever known to man emerges on one day. The pressures can be overwhelming, too. I remember the first time I had to bring a dozen hard-boiled eggs to a holiday event at my in-law’s and I swear (at the time) it was the most stress-inducing event I had ever engaged in. (So many eggs were lost that day. ) But today is a different story! Over the years I have gained enough wisdom to help me remember a few key things for the holiday season; making it all a much more bearable experience. A good sense of humor and strong cocktails help, too.

Everyone is Self-Absorbed

In the summer 2016 I was very abruptly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Cancer is rarely funny except when I have it, as I strive to focus on the funny and absurd no matter what. The first time I saw my extended family after surgery and radiation treatment was at Thanksgiving and do you know that not one single person asked me how I was doing? I know what you’re thinking so I’ll clarify: The house was filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins’ children and not one single person asked me if I was going to live or die. Not one. The hard truth is, most people are far too absorbed in their own lives to really notice what’s happening to those around them.

Knowing this is very helpful for the holidays. Say, for example, if you are put in charge of the appetizers this year, fear not! The honest truth is, no one is going to notice if your crust is slightly under cooked. Relax and remember what happened to me on Thanksgiving. Don’t stress because no one is paying attention anyway!

Tip: Enjoy the fact that no one is really interested in your green bean casserole or what your kids are wearing. If you need a little help, pair it with a cranberry infused champagne sangria. Because nothing goes better with this realization than obnoxiously self-absorbed cranberries.

Lower Your Expectations

Expectations are always what get us in trouble during the holidays. In the south we hope for a white Christmas but ultimately end up with humidity and mosquitoes and we are generally let down. Remember when I expected people to notice my fresh surgery scars and ask me how I was feeling? Expectations are rarely met. The best way to handle the holidays is to lower your expectations. Don’t expect the proposal. Don’t expect the new car surprise. Don’t expect ongoing joy and laughter. Don’t expect your kids to be gleefully happy about their presents.

Before entering any holiday function, picture your ideal family experience. Now lower your expectations…a little lower…slightly less…down one more notch…there. You are set. With the bar set that low, you cannot be disappointed. In fact, anything good that happens above that bar is a true holiday miracle, and that, my friend is something to revel in.

Tip: Enjoy this new level of lowered holiday expectations with a glass of boxed wine. Because nothing says lowered expectations like wine in a cardboard box.

Smile and Nod

I’m not sure what it is about the holidays that make people engage in the worst kinds of small talk. I can only surmise that when people are crowded together in someone’s tiny kitchen they will do anything to avoid awkward silences. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather an awkward silence any day over having to listen to Uncle Joe go on about his experience at the deli counter. (No, I really can’t believe she gave you more ham then what you paid for.) Worse yet is the cousin who goes on and on about how fantastic life is in radio sales. Or the in-law who loves to brag about her perfect children and lists the things they would never, ever do.

Tip: Resist the urge to box that obnoxious braggart in the pie hole with a small shot of whisky. Hide it in a red solo cup and nurse it throughout the day.

Stop Apologizing

You are doing a damn good job. Even on our worst days, if we simply show up, that’s a success. Don’t let other peoples’ judgement get in the way of a happy holiday for you. Apologize for nothing. If Aunt Jackie thinks the kids are too loud, that’s her problem. Smile and be proud of your socially outgoing children. If your sister-in-law thinks your sweet potato soufflé is too dry, smile and remind her that’s how it’s served in France. (It’s totally okay to roll your eyes when she walks away.)

Tip: Resist the urge to apologize and instead smile and nod. If you need more than that,  sip on a Pinot Noir.

Stop Comparing

Comparison is the thief of joy. Repeat after me: Comparison is the thief of joy. Our joy is a precious resource and should not be given away because of someone else. My Christmas tree will never look amazing. I may never be able to make sugar cookies that don’t spread out into unrecognizable globs of dough. My hard boiled eggs may never be evenly peeled. As long as we are making memories as a family, memories that my children enjoy, how I stack up against other people no longer matters. AT ALL.  I refuse to give up my joy because someone else had the time and talent to create perfect little snowmen out of unmatched socks.

Tip: Stay joyful about what you create, because no matter what, it’s pretty damn amazing. If you need some help, nothing bring out pure joy like boozy eggnog.

Lastly, remember that the holidays aren’t forever. This too shall pass. Don’t end up looking and feeling like my son’s panicked turkey. Cheers! xoxoIMG_8896

Santa? Oh, Baby it Happened.

I have strong feelings about Santa. Thankfully, Parent.Co supported these feelings and published my article on Santa, his magic, and how that shit will be alive and well in my home for as long as I’m alive and well. You can read the full article below or via the link here.

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Santa and His Magic – In Full Effect for as Long as Possible.

The magic of Christmas is always alive for those who believe. While this may be my life’s eternal motto, I’m certainly not a crazy Christmas lady.

I do know that, for every Christmas light lit before Thanksgiving, one of Santa’s baby reindeer die, so I would never take that risk. But once the official Christmas season begins, I am all in, and dragging my entire family along with me. Santa and all of his magic is in full effect.

Before you roll your eyes right out of your head, hear me out.

I heard an interview recently in which someone described Christmas as a dream – the one time in our lives when we suspend reality in exchange for fantasy. It’s the one day of the year when dreams come true, the one time when magic is real. Really real, not just sleight of hand.

It’s also the one time of year when I have the opportunity to make this magic happen for my family.

I’m 43, and while I acknowledge how beautiful and wonderful life can be, I also know that it can be cold, hard, and relentless. There are times when people don’t care. There are times when your dreams truly don’t matter at all. There are times when you are alone, or worse, lonely. The realization that life isn’t always fair or pleasant comes quickly – far too quickly, in my opinion.

We spend the vast majority of our adult lives, well…being adults, which is exactly why I choose to give my children the chance to experience pure, dream-making magic. While they’re children, I feel that they deserve it.

I get it. Maintaining the Santa illusion hard. But for me, hard isn’t a reason to abandon ship. Last year, we pulled off a live animal Christmas, and it required more logistical arrangements than when I gave birth to my second child. It was also, hands down, the most stressful Christmas Eve on record.

My husband and I fought and bickered while trying to establish the best plan for Santa’s gifts to spend the night. I forgot to remove several labels and tags – clearly, a rookie mistake induced by an adrenaline-fueled combination of stress and excitement.

Boy, was I excited. I was so incredibly excited. I knew how much they wanted this. It never crossed my mind that Santa couldn’t make their Christmas dreams come true. No matter how many favors I had to call in or arrangements I had to make with neighbors, their dreams were coming true.

On that moderately cool, rather balmy southern morning, when my kids saw their dreams materialized at the foot of the Christmas tree, adorned with a freezing cold letter from the North Pole, every minute, every argument, every request, every switch, every exchange was totally and completely worth it. I watched magic happen right before my eyes, and it was worth it.

I admit I’m selfish. I love every minute of watching the holidays through the eyes of my children. In some ways, it’s even better now than when I was a kid. I wish this time of our life would last forever. The magic of Christmas experienced by my children directly improves my holidays, too. Their excitement, joy, and awe make it exponentially better.

While I may be selfish, I’m also a realist. I remember vividly when I found out that my reality wasn’t exactly reality. It was a pretty difficult blow. I remember feeling a palpable sense of loss. Over time, however, I was able to channel the energy and excitement of receiving into the joy of giving.

I’m prepared for my children to experience this loss. I am aware of the sadness that will likely affect them – hopefully, not any time soon. (Truthfully, I’m more prepared for the sex talk than the Santa talk.) But I believe that my kids’ excitement and energy will grow from the magic and joy of receiving into the magic and joy of giving.

When it’s all said and done, if my children have joyful memories – feelings they can return to when the world is not such a friendly place – then I have given them a great gift. So, for now, the magic remains real, and I am forever joyful and grateful for it.

Within my joy, though, a slight sadness tugs at my heart because I know this time is fleeting. Only for a very short time can we capture this excitement. Letters to Santa and personalized cards for our elf, Cookie, will make way for doubt and questions.

I am ready, though. I am ready to block doubt and reassure fears by holding on to my life motto. I am ready to remind my children that, as long as you hold on to the spirit in your heart, the magic will always follow.

xoxo