Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas village

We're more than halfway to Christmas! Woohoo! How's everyone holding up? Shopping done? Presents wrapped? Cards sent? Sanity in check? Or have you chucked all the have-tos in favor of eggnog and Chevy Chase?

I have to say, I'm somewhere in the middle. It definitely feels like we're doing all the things - there's a tree in our living room with presents underneath and everything! - but some of the time I wonder if we might be missing the point.

I caught myself the other night chastising the kids for whining and complaining instead of having fun and saying thank you. (And, no, the irony was not lost on me...I'm well aware that I sound like a complete idiot sometimes.) "Here I am going out of my way to make Christmastime super fun for you guys and all you can do is pick on each other and whine? Seriously?! Why don't you appreciate all the fun stuff we get to do? Would it kill you to show a little gratitude? I mean, come on! Now, get in the car and buckle up. We're going to the restaurant of your choice for dinner now and WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN!"

And I wonder where my kids get it.

Anyway. I think it's a fairly common problem this time of year. (Or maybe it's just me - ha!) We work so hard to make things special and fun and memorable that sometimes we straight up miss the point. You could pile your whole family into Santa's actual sleigh with Darth Vador riding shotgun and fly through a Minecraft holiday world singing Jingle Bells, Batman Smells at the top of your lungs while Princess Anna makes it snow and Mrs. Claus feeds you warm gingerbread cookies, but if Mama's stressing out or you had to rush in traffic to get there or your budget is stretched too thin or someone isn't getting enough sleep, it might just feel like one more thing to cross off your list.

Which sucks! Because it's not about checking things off a list, it's about...connecting. Celebrating. Enjoying this time together. Right? It's not about what we do, it's how we do it.

But the how is so much harder to plan. Making a list and checking it twice is easy. But once you try to execute the list in real life? With all the spilled glitter and bad attitudes and tired feet and opinions? It's just never as easy (or as fun) as it seems like it would be. I mean, it's fun. But it's also lots of work.

Thankfully I found a way to make it easier...

The village! No, no. The Christmas village!

This was not my idea, but the idea of one of my friends who said she was feeling like a Grinch and needed to snap out of it. "I haven't done anything for Christmas yet and I feel bad for my kids." I told her I'd done lots of stuff for Christmas and I still felt bad for my kids. (There's more than one way to Grinch, you know.) So anyway, we decided to get together with another friend and spend a morning making cookies together.

I'm not gonna lie. It was pure magic.

There's just something about being around others that makes everyone a little bit sweeter. My kids look out for each other, say please and thank you like they mean it, and just generally make my heart swell.

I feel much more patient and kind and catch myself consistently behaving like a really good mom. Not that I'm a bad mom in the privacy of my own home (well, sometimes I am...) but it's just like everything good gets kicked up a notch (and the not-so-good gets dialed way back...).

It feels great.

Everyone had so much fun. Not a Grinch in sight! The kids were so creative with their cookie decorating - combining cookie cutters to make original shapes (like centaurs!) and carefully placing sprinkles to create their designs.

I was super inspired and spent a good chunk of time hunched over my reindeer in an ugly holiday sweater and a gay pride angel. (Next time I'm going to make a Victoria's Secret angel!)

We spontaneously burst into song many times and sang all the Christmas carols we could think of. Loudly! With lots of vibrato! It was gloriously bad. Like, we need to take this thing on tour bad. Oh, and the boys and I wore antlers the whole time. Actually, I wore them the whole day. And we broke out the clown noses I ordered for Finn's circus party for a whole house full of Rudolphs!

No one fought or whined or complained or stumbled into a bad mood. It was exactly what I have wanted all of our Christmas activities to be like. Only effortless, you know? No one was trying to enjoy themselves, we just were having a wonderful time. It made me want to start a commune. Or get some sister wives. Instead I think I'll just remember to call on the village the next time I feel my inner Grinch creeping out. But first I'll put on my antlers...

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