It seems I am a bit off balance this year. My first clue came last week Friday when we attempted to put up our Christmas decorations and Christmas trees.
I always have lovely visions of the way I think the Christmas season is going to go. Music playing in the background. Snowflakes gently flitting down outside the window. A roaring fire in the fireplace. The Christmas trees being decorated by happy children holding up their favorite ornaments and carefully placing them on the tree as Todd and I smile and watch from the couch. In my mind's eye there is always lots of laughter and kindness and joy and peace. Patient kids sitting excitedly in front of the Christmas tree posing for the ultimate Christmas card picture. Todd and I enjoying our shopping trip alone to find the perfect Christmas gifts for the kids to really make this Christmas exciting, and then a nice, relaxing dinner out afterwards to celebrate our great finds.
I'm sure it is no surprise to you that it never actually happens that way.
After setting up our two year old prelit Christmas tree we discovered half of the lights were out. We spent an hour trying to fix them. Then we spent another two hours CUTTING THE PRELIT LIGHTS OFF THE TREE and another half hour hanging new lights. If anyone ever suggests that you get a prelit Christmas tree you have my permission to drop kick them in the head. Also? The sadistic hogs that tie the lights onto prelit Christmas trees by knotting them are permanently on my shitlist. So much for feeling that Christmas love while setting up the tree. My hands and arms were all cut up and bleeding from the scratchy branches, all of my nails but one had broken, I was cussing and sweating, and plotting people's demise.
By the time the boys got home from school and Ben and Grace got up from their naps they were all ready to have some Christmassy fun. However, we were about three hours behind where we wanted to be. Todd had to run out and get new lights. I had to try and make some kind of a dinner. Then we had to wait for Todd to put the lights on. When we were finally ready to start putting the ornaments on the overly excited and not so patient kids had to wait for me again as I discovered my camera had no batteries and my video camera was out of disc. Have mercy, sweet baby Jesus!
By the time all was settled the kids were overwrought, I was frazzled, Todd was grumpy. Not one of us was in a Christmassy mood. The kids grabbed at delicate ornaments, started fights, whined and cried, and threw the ornaments at the tree and hoped they stuck. In short (too late), it was horrible. The kids went to bed miserable and I felt like a failure for approximately the billionth time since having kids.
The next day would be better, we promised!
But, Todd and I spent much of our time attempting to get the kids out from inside the Christmas trees, cleaning up broken ornaments, and pulling out our hair. We happily dropped them off at their grandparents' house that night and took off to find our rotten children some wonderful Christmas gifts. We didn't find much. Most of our time was spent arguing with each other, rolling our eyes, and disagreeing about what to give the kids. It was not successful.
We tried to shake it off and move on to dinner. We went to one of our favorite little restaurants where Todd watched the Badger game too much, talked too little, and I ate my weight in fish and chips.
So far, this whole Christmas thing is too much work.
I don't know what it is about this year that is making me want it all to be just right. Maybe it is because it is Joey's first year without the magic of Santa. He is being such a sweet brother making Christmas exciting for his siblings and I want him to know it is appreciated. I remember my first Christmas without Santa. It was miserable. Or, maybe I am trying so hard because Grace is now at that age where she is understanding more. This will be her first Christmas really feeling and sharing in on the excitement too. Maybe I just want my kids to look back at their childhood, and their Christmases at home, and remember how magical it all felt. I don't know.
It disappoints me, though, because I know Christmas isn't really about any of this. And usually I am very good at finding that balance between making it exciting for my kids and stressing the real reason behind this Christmas season. I feel like I am making it harder than it needs to be. I am not finding the balance.
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