Be Extra, But Only in What Brings You Joy This Holiday Season

The day has finally come. I got elf shamed. I have been avoiding Elf on a Shelf, not because I have particular ill will toward Sprinkle/Sparkle/etc but because I’m kind of a hot mess who tends to fall asleep listening to her murder mystery audiobook and I know I’ll forget to move he/she (them? are elves gendered?) nightly. Maybe it’s selfish of me to deny my offspring part of the magic of Christmas, but I think there is more to it than that. The magic of Christmas was ever present to me as a child before Pinterest and Instagram existed.

There is zero shame if this is a precious tradition in your house. I love you for it. I am in awe of you. But I think my extra will go other places this year. I say, use your extra energy, (and I mean extra in the colloquial sense because what mom actually has extra energy?) doing the things you love this season. Are you a deck the halls kind of gal? Have at it with mistletoe! Can you give the Great British Bakeoff a run for their money? Cook til your little hearts content. Maybe your a middle of the night serial Amazon primer of amazing gifts for loved ones — that’s a skill, own it, babe.

Thanks to my avid self help reading as I drive kids to various activities, I’ve learned that true connection comes from accessing our vulnerability (I’m looking at you Brene Brown!) And there is nothing we want more at the holidays than to connect with our loved ones. We want to recreate the magic we felt as children or maybe enhance the magic we felt we missed out upon. So this is my vulnerability to you, I am not good at a lot of these things. I forget that it is bring a hand painted family tree of your second-uncles third cousin day at school. I bring store bought to the bake sale. My hair is dirty, but my kids are cute. (Spoiler, they may also be dirty even though their hair has been washed since mine).

It’s fine, guys. If your house looks like page 73 of the Pottery Barn catalog your kids will have a magical Christmas. If it doesn’t they will as well. I recently read a post that resonated deep in my soul a dear friend shared by Rachel Jonat that said, “We don’t have to continue holiday traditions that leave us broke, overwhelmed, and tired.” Certainly I am not referring to a sweet little stuffed elf here. That little guy does bring a lot of joy to a lot of families. This is bigger than that. This is spending. This is boundaries in relationships. This is food and substance.

Sources say, again with my dear friend, Brene (not so sure she’d consider me a friend, well not yet anyway), that a big part of parenting is how our kids see us interact in our world. Hmmm. My first thought upon reading this was cool. cool. so my kids will see an anxious squirrel for a mother. Maybe I owe them more than that. Maybe I owe them some calm this season. Maybe I owe them an example of joy, not just creating theirs. Tough stuff, and if you figure out how to do it, my inbox is open because I am on the struggle bus as a certified care what people think-er.

But before I continue on too heavy a note, I invite you to only do the extra that brings you joy this holiday season. Leave the rest for others and their particular set of skills. I will be making bacon crack bites and dancing in my kitchen to Wham! with my Snoop on a Stoop.

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