What Kids Don’t Know About the Holidays


Every year when it came time to yank the Christmas decorations out of the attic and begin to decorate, my mom went nuts. Like…. seriously nuts. Sure, she allowed me and my brother to help decorate (we fought every year over who got to put the creepy moving angel at the top of the tree) as long as it matched her very particular color scheme. Which was mauve. Yes, mauve. Mauve EVERYTHING. My eyes still burn.

Like most kids, me and my brother weren’t exactly master decorators, especially with our cornucopia of hideous fantastic handmade ornaments we gleefully brought home to adorn the tree’s prime location branches with. Still, our mom oohed and ahhed as the garland went ’round and the lights flicked on, and we all drank (BARF) egg nog, listening to holiday music, and sat around and stared at the tree. Just stared at it. Probably imagining it with the plethora of gifts that would soon be below it.

We baked cookies, did crafts, watched Christmas movies, and even went caroling. There were big parties, pies, traveling, family get togethers (and soooooo so many fights) and when all the paper was torn and thrown away, all the cookies were gone and the left overs sent home, a new year began and I remember thinking every single January 1st, “I can’t wait until next Christmas!”

And then something happened, and everything changed: I had kids.

Adult Christmas is like an episode of the Twilight Zone.

I’m not a Grinch. My heart doesn’t need to grow ten sizes. I don’t need Tiny Tim or the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future to show up on my doorstep and show me the magic of Christmas and the errors of my ways. I’m just a parent, and the thought of Christmas exhausts me because that is what the holiday season is: EXHAUSTING.

First, there’s Thanksgiving, and the prep, and the shopping, and the traveling if you have to travel with kids who fight/complain/ask when you’ll be there five million times. Then you’ve got the picky little shit who refuses to eat anything and suddenly “hates” mashed potatoes, and they ruin their clothes before you can take family photos and when it’s finally all said and done and the kids are watching TV on the couch, you still have a million things to do, dishes to wash, and crap to put away, only to pull out more crap later.

Just as you’re recovering from Turkey day hysteria, it’s serious Christmas time (at least for us. I don’t do the early shizz. I just…. I can’t. One holiday at a time). Out comes the tree, and everything that goes along with it. The kids shout with glee! You ALMOST forget the nightmare that was last year. Almost.

They almost break every single ornament and nearly knock over the tree about seven dozen times. They complain and whine and fight over the stupid Buzz Lightyear with the hand broken off because SOMEONE dropped it but no one will claim responsibility. They boo and hoo about not getting the garland “just right” even though you tell them to do it however they want because you know once they’re done you’re just going to have to go back in and fix the entire stupid thing so it’s halfway presentable. They argue over stockings, even if they have names on them. They argue over the kind of cookies to bake Santa, and who gets to make them, and then make a GIANT mess and you end up obnoxiously helicoptering to make sure no one gets salmonella and dies or breaks a tooth on a giant piece of egg shell (YES IT CAN HAPPEN DON’T QUESTION ME). They argue over wanting the same toy, even though you’ve a) never said ANY of their asses were going to get it and b) no one said they couldn’t all get the same stupid thing. They fight for the sake of fighting.

You have to shop fight the crowds and the traffic, and the “out of stock”s in store and online. You have to get wrapping paper, and not just wrapping paper, but special wrapping paper you have to hide because it’s “From Santa” and THEY CANNOT SEE IT EVER OR CHRISTMAS IS ROOOOOOONED! We stress about getting the right gifts, sometimes even enough gifts (even though we fully believe they deserve coal and should be happy with even just a handful, we also know that ain’t gonna happen). And once it finally comes to the culmination, Christmas morning, and the paper we spent endless nights wrapping and hiding is shredded in under 10 minutes, we sit back and breathe a sigh of relief. They’re smiling. It’s over.

They get to “help”, and enjoy, and have happy memories, and I get a Christmas tree that doesn’t look like it was pulled from a dumpster, cookies that don’t give me food poisoning, happy, smiling, magic-filled kids, and possibly a shred of my sanity left over. They get to sing, and eat, and decorate and rip and play and eat some more and hopefully, every January 1st, they think “I can’t wait until next Christmas!” meanwhile, I want to collapse and never ever do it ever ever again. It’s a win/win. Mostly.

Posted on November 23, 2015 by Holdin' Holden 2 Comments
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