I know I’m not standard woman material. I’d rather argue politics than read about the Mom Wars. I’d rather spork myself in the eyeballs than spend hundreds of dollars shopping for fashionable shoes that I know will hurt my feet. And I’d rather spend 10 hours listening to the hamster dance song than watch one Justin Bieber YouTube video.
I’ve been lied to all my life about things that are proper, womanly things to do with my kid around the Holidays. Martha Stewart’s done it to me. So has Pinterest (I hate you, Pinterest). Let me give you five examples about the sorts of holiday memories you’ll really be making with your young one.
At least, these are the sorts of memories you’ll end up with if you’re like me:
Playing In the Leaves
Ah fall, beautiful fall. You may have these fond memories of jumping in piles of leaves, but clearly your memory doesn’t involve your parents pouring themselves a stiff drink and popping two Aspirin after having to rake the yard seventeen times.
Now it has come full-circle, and your memories now match that of everyone else.
If you’ve never watched Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, then let me assure you, they got everything exactly right.
Even 30 years later, this movie is still true. Except for the man hanging up the lights that is. The reality is your husband will be sitting in front of the fireplace watching TV with his mug of hot chocolate. Any attempt to guilt him to do it instead will be responded to with: “gotta love equal rights for women.”
Christmas Cookie Baking
I actually got all sentimental about the first time I baked cookies with my son. I went out and spent $142 on cookie cutters and eleventeen hours pouring over the internet, looking for a vegan gingerbread cookie recipe so that I wouldn’t give my three year old salmonella poisoning. It was all going swimmingly. He played with the dough, we made gingerbread men, and he called them “man-men” in his little baby-boy voice. He named them. Played with them. It was the cutest. Thing. Ever.
…until I put my son’s man-men in the oven, conveniently preheated to 350F. Then he crawled up the stairs to daddy, screaming hysterically about how mommy was killing his man-men.
Mommy’s a serial killer of cookie-men. Check.
Thirty years later, it is abundantly obvious to me why so many of our Christmas decorations growing up were things like dog biscuits with felt tongues and googly eyes hot-glued strategically onto them. Or candy canes made out of pipe cleaners. Or tiny little paper snowflakes. You know what I’m talking about, right? If a kid breaks, spindles, mutilates or sets it on fire (don’t ask), it’s no big deal!
But wait, I’m not crafty. This means that if it involves a hot glue gun, sequins, or cute little cutout things, it’ll happen over my dead body. Or in a best case scenario, I end up on Craft Fail.
If your five year old begins critiquing your skills drawing reindeer, you might just be in the same boat as I am.
You spend approximately 20 minutes stuffing your child into enough winter gear that he looks like the Michelin Man. It doesn’t matter how many times you asked before you started dressing the kid up; the moment that you try to open the door to leave the house, the kid will have to pee. Any attempt to ask why he didn’t go before will be responded to with “I didn’t have to when you asked me before,” so save your breath.
Forty minutes later, you’ll arrive at a place with a small rise. Don’t ask him to go alone. It doesn’t matter that the hill is two feet tall. There might be snow sharks. Or things. So make sure you invest in a sled big enough (and sturdy enough) for mommy’s butt and ignore the 12 year-olds giving you the stink-eye. You’re only as old as you feel, which at this moment is about 150.
After five minutes of sledding, the kid will want to attempt it on his own. At this point he will flail down the hill like Wiley Coyote off a cliff, land face down in the snow, and want to go home.
And also, he has to go pee again.
So there you have it: Hallmark and Martha Stewart perfect Christmases are a lie. Instead of expecting to have that idyllic moment, you should be expecting to store memories of tears, fire, backbreaking labour and arguments about whose turn it is to get zapped from plugging in the Christmas tree.
And if none of those things happen… well then take a pause to appreciate a true Christmas miracle!