It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—everywhere but here.
If you were to come over to my house today, you could tell that we’ve been trying to decorate for the holidays. Santa, Frosty and some elves are hanging out on the front porch but not properly arranged. The 8-foot-tall inflatable snowman is still folded up in his box, stacked next to the pile of garland that’s supposed to adorn the porch columns. At night, one lonely strand of lights glows along the gutter, while the shrubs and windows remain barren.
Once inside, you get to navigate a lovely obstacle course consisting of stacks of red-and-green Rubbermaid bins. And the naked Christmas tree in the living room is another indication that we’re trying to make this happen.
We usually do all of our Christmas decorating the weekend after Thanksgiving. We start on Friday and by Sunday night, we’re done. I expected that it would be harder to accomplish this year because of the demands of our new baby. After all, we’re still in the stage where it’s a good day if I can take a shower and cook something for dinner. Most of my time is spent nursing and holding my littlest boy and I love every minute of it. Still, it leaves little time for much else. Completing a load of laundry is a major accomplishment these days.
I’ve tried to rebuke the Martha Stewart spirit that possesses me every December—something much easier said than done for a mom who loves making things pretty. “Simplicity” has been my mantra this year. Each room will have the minimum touches needed to bring a taste of Christmas to the air. But who knew it would take forever and a day to do so little?
We’ve never had a young baby in the house at the holidays. By the time Zach’s and Eli’s first Christmases came around, they were already walking, able to play with toys and entertain themselves somewhat. They were on schedules and took long naps every afternoon. It was easy to do what I had to do back then.
And even though I’ve once again become a master of doing things one-handed, have you ever tried to thread a hook on an ornament with just one hand while balancing a squalling 14-pound baby on your shoulder? I found out that I am definitely not that coordinated.
I’m a reluctant learner, but my baby is teaching me about letting go of the small stuff. So what if there are two red Christmas light bulbs in a row along the roofline? Who cares if the Christmas tree has fewer ornaments—none of them new or handmade by the kids this year?
A decade from now, will it matter that I didn’t try any of the fancy new cookie recipes the Food Network delivers daily to my inbox? I am certain all the frills and fluff will wait another year, and these lovable but often clueless males in my life will never know the difference.
My husband just humors me at the holidays, grumbling now and then about being the muscle behind my madness. If it were up to him, we’d have a scraggly Charlie Brown Christmas tree and that’s about it.
I’d like to think that if something happened to me, he’d continue my tradition of decorating and making the holidays special for the boys. But I seriously don’t know if he would. He says it’s a guy thing, something I can’t understand any more than he understands my need to put glitter and ribbons on anything that will stand still.
My mother-in-law arrives for a visit later this week, and I am determined to be finished decking the halls by tomorrow night. If it isn’t done by then, it’s not happening. And if it’s not up to my usual standards, well, Martha can just go haunt someone else this year.
All that matters by December 25th is that the kids have presents to open, there is something good to eat for dinner, and we are all together. And that, my friends, even I can make happen.
Kari Apted is a writer and speaker residing in Georgia with her husband, three sons, and an ever-changing menagerie of pets. She writes a humorous weekly parenting column for The Covington News and freelances for various publications.more»