Failing at Christmas

By Tuesday, December 8, 2015
This Christmas marks my eleventh as a mother. Over a decade of buying gifts and trying to get it right for my brood. A decade. I should be crushing Christmas. I should be cruising through the holidays like a seasoned vet; nog in hand, Elf doing more than sitting on a shelf, the family tree elegantly trimmed. I have successfully enjoyed a nog this season, other than that, I am failing at Christmas. I have forgotten to relocate our elf THREE nights in a row and currently am staring at an empty corner in my family room where our tree will reside. In fact my entire house lacks holiday cheer. I was so amped up to get my shopping done early, I have slacked off in the decoration department. But those are minor infractions. The real damage is the culmination of these past Christmases; year after year I committed minor mistakes. These errors were innocent at the time but now have totally fucked up my holiday season.
I have time to turn this Christmas around, I refuse to fail this year. If I could time-travel back to 2005 and give myself some Christmas-related advice, it would include the following key points:
  1. Babies do not need presents. I understand it is your child’s first Christmas and you want them to have a gift. Fine. One and done.
  2. When it comes to toddlers refer to the previous point. It was Christmas 2007, Jax was almost 3-years-old. He opened his first present, a Thomas the Train set. The child adored Thomas at the time, after giving him a moment to take it all in, I went to move the train set aside so he could move on to the next gift. Jax was not having that. He was so pumped up about his train set, rightfully so, and wanted to open it and play with it immediately. I basically had to force him to open his remaining gifts, which he acted like a complete toddler about and tossed to the side. Stupid mistake – one and done.
  3. As the kids grew older, I began deviating from their Christmas lists. Kai would ask for a Transformer or Iron Man, of which he already had plenty, and instead of getting him that coveted action figure, I would buy him a remote control helicopter. The helicopter would satisfy the initial new toy checklist, but after a few days it was relegated to the basement and rarely played with. Instead he was back at it with his Transformers, wishing he had Megatron to play the bad guy instead of a stand-in. I should have stuck to the list.
  4. Until last year, every gift the kids got was from Santa. They just assumed he did all the work and I let them run with that. Big mistake. For one, Santa doesn’t visit everyone’s house, unfortunately. I do not need my children bragging about how Santa brought them a PlayStation and one of their classmates wondering why Santa missed them. This also translates to toy drives and other holiday charities. My kids do not understand why Santa doesn’t take care of the families being helped.
  5. The Elf on the Shelf. I wish he never stepped foot into my house for a myriad of reasons. One, I forget to move him. Two, coming up with new and exciting things for him to do is too time consuming. So he literally sits on different shelves around the house. Three, he has taken some of the magic away. Part of the fun as a child was thinking you might have seen an elf, or your parents “spotting” one and getting you excited. Now, that is gone, we have one staring at us every morning. I found myself agreeing whole-heartedly with this article in the Globe.

I can’t imagine I have many Christmases left with a house full of believers. The fact that my oldest is still hanging on both surprises and delights me. I want to get it right this year. For me that means sticking to their list, not buying needless items just so they have “more” to open and planning our Elf’s exit strategy. He will be leaving our family this year for greener pastures. I just have to come up with an appropriate “lie” to send him on his way, or I could let Hank eat him. It seems selfish, but in the end, it is what’s best for the children.

To a Merry Christmas,


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