Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas

Back in October, when the first chill was in the air and the days were just beginning to get shorter, I started having my usual holiday chocolate by the fire...cuddling up to read the Christmas story together...shiny new red-and-green pajamas for the kids to wear on Christmas Eve...a pile of beautifully wrapped gifts under a picture-perfect tree...

Has anyone seen my Kohl's gift card?

It didn't help that I picked up a couple of those "perfect-homemaker" magazines in the Vancouver airport for our flight back home. The Canadian versions are every bit as stress-inducing as their American companions: gorgeous tables set with homemade feasts, beautiful decorating ideas, and picture-perfect families posing in front of the designer themed Christmas tree.

The holidays can be exhausting.

I never found the heartwarming article about the son who has refused to get a haircut since Halloween, or the humorous column about the daughter who talked her grandparents into getting her rats for Christmas. No advice about where to stash a week's worth of undone laundry before the house fills with guests. And not one photo-spread of the exhausted, cranky mom and dad trying to sneak the presents in from the freezing garage at midnight.

Introducing Thor and Odin, newest members of our menagerie...

Every year I seem to lose touch with reality and create the same unattainable picture of Christmas in my mind. And every year I have to learn the same lesson: as a mother, wife, teacher, business-owner and middle-aged human being who needs sleep and downtime, I can't achieve a magazine-style Christmas. And you know what? It doesn't matter!

Wonder which one I'll step on tonight?

The truth is, I never got around to cleaning the bathrooms before our company showed up, the food was 90% store-bought, and I made the coffee too strong. At one point, Nana and Papa's two Yorkies escaped and we had to chase them outside and into a neighbor's yard. In spite of our efforts to coordinate, Dude got two of the same Lego set, and the cute boots I ordered for Super have yet to arrive. In short, we had a disorganized, messy, chaotic, fantastic, fun Christmas this year!

We bought a bakery bûche and improved it.

Here's the thing: no one noticed the bathrooms (or, at least, they didn't say anything!) The food got eaten, the coffee got creamed, and the Yorkies were caught. Dude is actually delighted to have two of the same set and Super will wear the boots whenever they arrive.

Dad made an elf bowling game for the Scouts.

During this month, we celebrated Hanukkah with dear friends. We went to a couple of holiday parties and hosted a Scout party. We decorated cookies, had a Secret Santa exchange with our employees, made crafts with the kids, watched movies together, and drove around looking at Christmas lights. Just for fun, we had our very first solstice celebration, complete with a Bûche de Noel. Last week we brought blankets outside, lay down on our front lawn, and watched the total lunar eclipse together. I suppose I could have been cleaning my house or making dinners from scratch. But this time with my family has been perfect.

I actually took this photo! Me!

I hope to get my Christmas cards mailed soon. I hope to catch up on laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and all that other stuff that all grownups, no matter how imperfect, eventually have to do. I need to organize lesson plans for the second half of our school year. There will always be bills to pay, dinners to prepare, and dogs to bathe.

Yikes! Kids and candles!

Christmas should be a time to put the mundane on hold and focus on what's truly important. And the holidays should definitely be free of perfectionist ideals that keep families from enjoying their time together. Maybe I should write a note to myself so I'll remember that next year. Or maybe I'll just keep Dude's note to Santa handy...

Dude left fruit salad and coffee for Santa this year.

Here's hoping you also had a perfect holiday...whatever perfect may mean to you!


The Adventurer said...

Great post that made me smile. The mags never tell how it really is for families so we all struggle to make it perfect when there is no such thing:) Glad your Christmas was good. Enjoy the rest of the weekend:)

Sara said...

It all sounds perfect! Merry Christmas!

Denise said...

Terrific picture of the moon! Love the post and hope you and your family had a terrific Christmas!

Michelle said...

Sounds like a fabulous Christmas! I find the stress of perfection is all me - but, my sons and husband could really care less about all the fancy details. I think women put a lot of unecessary stress on ourselves.

I love the photo of the eclipse, and think it's awesome you left salad and coffee for Santa. My kids left a banana and a bottle of water, along with a couple cookies :) Merry Christmas!

Sparklee said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! I heard that Martha Stewart has a staff of 30 preparing the food and projects in her magazine. How nice for her! ;)

I'm sure Santa enjoyed that banana and water--my kids were worried that he'd be tired of cookies. And they thought he'd appreciate some coffee, too!

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

Love that moon pic. That is awesome! Also love your boxer- we have one too. :) Thanks for stopping by yesterday! Happy to be connected!

Sparklee said...

That photo really surprised me--I don't have a fancy camera, I just got lucky!

Yes, boxers rule around here! And pugs! Either way, there is no room on the couch for me!

Traci's Teaching Times said...

I suppose our family had a perfect Christmas also because ours was a bit hectic too.
Your homeschooling sounds so flavorful. My son would have loved to have been on the boat ride with you all to see the whales. He's zany over science, especially animal science. Keep up the good work with your schooling. You are doing a great job with your children.

Michelle said...

Sounds perfect to me! :)
So jealous you got to see the eclipse. Nothing but clouds here all night.

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

What great photos- I love the lego comment 'wonder which one I'll step on..' that is so the story of my life- nice to meet you and happy NY!

Anonymous said...

Hi there-
Enjoyed checking out your blog!
I'm just crawling my way into the new millenium- still learning my way around blogs and such. Is this the best way to communicate with you? We'd love to see you if you come to Houston in April!

Sparklee said...

So great to hear from you, Jenn! This blog is where I hang out when I need a break from homeschooling (or when I'm avoiding work!) I've been told that blogging is on the way out and Facebook is the way to communicate these days, but I've never been on the cutting edge before, so why start now? :)

Hope to see you soon!