As I’ve gotten older, I’ve watched Christmas shift from a magical, exciting holiday to a bunch of hard work and planning. I think all parents see Christmas differently than kids. The Christmas break is a lot shorter, presents are fewer, all that “good food” is painstakingly prepared by us, and we’re in charge of keeping all those Christmas traditions alive — including Santa Claus.
We plan and follow a complicated sequence of actions every year to make sure our children believe in this man. From spending hundreds of dollars on gifts and then labeling them as being “From Santa” to actually making and leaving out cookies for him (and if you’re like me, carrots for the reindeer), we’re pulling out all the stops to keep the dream alive.
For a parent, Christmas goes a little something like this:
In the months, weeks or days before Christmas, there is shopping. It can be a lot of shopping or a little shopping, but either way, you’re braving large crowds who are potentially angry and also in need of the very same toy you are, Jingle All the Way-style. For self defense, pepper spray is a good idea, although using it in Wal-Mart is probably not.
Late Christmas Eve, you’ll be up putting together that desk, playhouse or puppet theater. You’ll realize it’s missing an important screw or piece. You might have a mini-meltdown before you notice the piece was (hopefully) just hiding in the bottom of the box.
Then, just when you think you’ve earned a good night’s sleep, you’ll be awakened in the wee hours of Christmas morning by your child physically jumping on your head, yelling something about presents.
And then it’s time to get up in a hurry to watch as they unwrap all their gifts (which are “From Santa,” not you), which is really sweet until it’s time to clean up the wrapping paper and packaging. Where is Santa for all the dirty work?
While they run off to play with their large amount of new stuff from Santa, not you, you’ll make breakfast, which has to be impressive and fabulous. If it’s not, Christmas will be ruined for everyone. So you’ll whip up a hearty breakfast casserole or those Christmas tree pancakes you saw on Pinterest, try to figure out where all this new stuff is going to go, and have an oversized cup of coffee or two. Bonus points if you hum or sing Christmas carols while you do it.
Don’t worry, though! When it’s all said and done (and after you’ve unwrapped that foot massager), you’ll feel great. Everyone will be happy, full and obsessed with their brand new material possessions. You won’t be able to take full credit for it (“From Santa”), but you’ll know you pretty much orchestrated the whole thing and made Christmas a success. That feeling, knowing you helped make the day special for your family, is usually worth the trouble you’ll go through doing it. Merry Christmas!
(Editor’s Note: Debra Carpenter is a novice mother, wife and college student, as well as being a syndicated columnist whose work is published in several Tennessee newspapers. She writes about the parts of parenthood you didn’t expect when you were expecting. Like her page at facebook.com/MotherInterrupted or visit the website at motherinterrupted.com.)