I want to cherish the holidays. I want to create an experience and tradition for my family that they will cherish through their adult lives. I am so focused on manufacturing their experience, that I am missing it. I am allowing my anxiety to steal my holiday experience.
I grew up away from immediate family. I had limited access to big family traditions and celebrations. This limited experience exacerbates my desire to establish traditions for my own children.
I find myself spending money that I shouldn’t, making plans that do not matter, and over-extending myself to the point of exhaustion. All of this is a function of my anxiety. I anticipate the consequences of not performing specific holiday rituals and I find myself panicked that my children may not remember a “perfect” Christmas.
But what does that even mean? What does a “perfect Christmas” look like? I can guarantee it does not involve an overly stressed mom yelling and/or in tears over a holiday plan that fell apart.
For example, my family’s Christmas tree disaster. My 5-year old son was in a mood. The kind of mood where you seriously consider shoving the kid back up your vagina and trying again. Every part of the Christmas tree process was a fight. Every aspect of the experience was stressful. He lost control of his behaviors and emotions leading my husband and I to lose our tempers multiple times. You don’t expect tears to be shed over Christmas ornaments, but here we were.
The night ended and I needed a drink. I reflected on the failure that was my Christmas tree plan and analyzed what had happened. I wondered what my son’s memory of the day will be like. Will he remember the holiday fun, or will he remember a stressed out mom at her breaking point? Sadly, I am fully aware of the likely answer.
I am forcibly taking a step back. I am working towards modifying the holiday so that I can truly be a part of it. For me, that looks like store bought cookie dough, carefully selected but minimal decorations, Amazon Prime, and gift bags. My hope is that I can let go of what I want Christmas to look like and soak in what Christmas actually is.