It pains me to write this. I am the queen of Christmas. I love the Christmas season. Like 12:01 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving, tree goes up, lights are lit, Bing Crosby is blasting on my Pandora channel. But this year was the year of the no-good, horrible, very bad Christmas. Probably the worst Christmas I’ve ever had.
I said that exact sentiment to Tim around 4:30 Sunday afternoon. And I meant it. I still mean it.
We really made an effort to make this Christmas as normal as possible for the kids. We’re moving in days. We disassembled the house the day after Christmas and could have done it sooner but we didn’t want a scaled down Christmas for the kids anymore than necessary. They were already asking why we didn’t decorate the outside of the house in lights this year, we couldn’t take anything else away from them. And we didn’t.
We kept all of our usual traditions. We decorated the day after Thanksgiving. We baked cookies. We saw Santa. We had Christmas in New Jersey with all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We even added to the fun with a “Friendmas” the Friday before Christmas with their school friends and their parents (who conveniently enough happen to be our friends). We were Christmas-ing to the max. And then Christmas Eve came.
I have to give the kids A LOT of credit. Christmas Eve mass was a spectacle and I don’t mean that in a good way. We had to go to church forty-five minutes before mass was scheduled to begin because of Catholics like us but then mass didn’t start until 4:15 because the powers that be decided to have a holiday concert put on by 3 or 4 school aged musicians. Each kid was talented, there was no denying that, but these kids easily played a dozen songs and we had to clap for every.single.song. Maybe I’ve been away from church too long but that is not what I like when I go to church. I like to sit in quiet reflection, not a concert. Once mass got started, I was into it, thinking to myself “We really need to get back to mass” and then the responsorial psalm had a horrible message about granting peace only to the worthy. Yeah, because that’s the message we need to spread: keep judging people. But through over two hours of being smushed into a pew, the kids were awesome. No whining, no crying. They participated as best they could.
And then they lost their shit.
Like immediately after we stepped foot into the parking lot. There was no recovering either. I was supposed to stop by a friend’s house to meet Allison of AllisonArnone.com. (If you’re not reading her, you should be.) That did not happen. Tim and I fed the kids the snacks (frozen h’dourves) we promised them for Christmas Eve dinner, read The Night Before Christmas, and tucked them in for the night. We told ourselves they were still tired from a late night at Friendsmas and we had wasted all of their good behavior on church; tomorrow would be a new day.
(Imagine Narrator Morgan Freeman saying: But tomorrow would not be a new day.)
Christmas Day only amplified their behavior by about a thousand. I’m a hard ass when it comes to parenting. I will be the first to admit this but I know what my kids are capable of and I do give my kids a lot of grace when it’s not a routine day. So I tried to give them grace. God, did I try. But by lunch time it was apparent that my kids had zero interest in anything other than whining, crying, fighting, and being jealous and selfish over their gifts. I have never seen my kids act as horribly as they did on Christmas. I cannot find one point in the day that was a redeeming moment. Not one. We tried separating them, offering to play their new games with them, we tried giving everyone a time out where we did our own thing but absolutely nothing worked.
There was lots of yelling and by dinner time I was barely speaking to my children. Because I was so put off by them and because I didn’t want to say anything I would regret. Tim and I put them to bed shortly after dinner and just stewed in our annoyance for the rest of the night.
It hasn’t been much better all week.
Why did I write seven hundred plus words about how my Christmas was less than desirable? Because it’s the truth. Because I know I’m not alone in having a shitty holiday. I know there were other parents who did way more yelling than they ever intended for Christmas. I know there are people who were less than moved by the Christmas message they received from their leaders. Last Christmas was a great day. The kids played with all of their toys and shared and it was a real Norman Rockwell day and then there was this shit storm. I remember enjoying the mass we attended. I don’t remember going to bed wondering where it all went wrong. Maybe it’s in keeping with the theme of the debacle that 2016 has been, I don’t know. All I know is this: it sucked and it’s okay to admit that. I’m disappointed that we didn’t have a repeat of last year and I hoping, praying that we don’t have a repeat of this year next year. Until then bah humbug!
How was your holiday? Good, bad, ugly?