Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Reality of Christmas

Well, Christmas is over. The decorations are packed up, the tree is standing bare in our family room waiting to be taken out to the trash, and all the gifts have been put away. It always makes me a little sad when the high of the holidays are over, but I'm also feeling ready to get back to real life.

Here's the thing, I'm a total Christmas freak. Always have been, always will be. I love everything about the season. I love the decorations, I love Christmas crafts and baking, I love shopping and I love how perfect strangers give each other cheerful greetings of "Merry Christmas!" and "Happy Holidays!". And since having kids, my love for all things Christmas-y has only grown. Elf on a Shelf, visiting Santa.... bring it on.

But..... yes, there is a but..... my rose-colored glasses visions of Christmas Cheer don't always match up with reality. That doesn't in any way take away from how much I adore it, but here's a few example:

Scenario #1: Decorating the Christmas Tree

Rose Colored Glasses Version:

The new baby sleeps contently in his bouncer chair, waking occasionally to look cute an strech his little  arms before falling back into peacefull slumber. My Pandora Christmas station plays in the background while Daddy and I pull out ornaments and get hooks on them, all while reminiscing the meaning of each one. (Our first house! Baby's first Christmas! The year we got engaged!) The two older boys sit quietly, listening to the stories of each ornament and patiently awaiting direcions. Finally the four of us carefully hang each ornaments, Daddy and I helping the boys place theirs. Soon we have a beautifully decorated tree and we all sit and marvel at it for several moments, before heading into the family room for a Christmas movie before before bed.

The Reality

The new baby screeches bloody murder at the injustice of once again being put in this tortoruos bouncer chair. He will not stop screeching until someone (Mommy) pulls him out and holds him, while also trying to put hooks on ornaments. The middle child will have no interests in helping and instead keeping stealing the ball ornaments and hiding them among his toys. When that gets boring, he starts throwing them at the dogs. Daddy is chasing after said middle child, trying to rescue the ball ornaments, leaving mommy to (one-handedly) get the rest of the ornaments ready to hang. The oldest child wants to help, but has no patience. He keeps grabbing ornaments before the have hooks, and the ones he does hang are all on one branch. He freaks out every time Mommy or Daddy try to move one of the fifty ornaments that are all hung in one square inch of each other. This all takes much longer than expected so the parents have to break it to the kids that there is no time for a Christmas movie tonight and it's time for bed. Tantrums and tears ensue and while Daddy gets the two big boys upstairs and into bed, an exhausted mommy finishes the tree. (Still holding the baby with one hand)

Scenario #2: Visiting Santa

Rose Colored Glasses Version

We will arrive at Santa to find no line and a jovial, very authentic looking, Santa waiting to enchant our kids and take their Christmas requests. The older boys will clamor onto his lap, smiling shyly, but in awe of meeting the "big guy". They will whisper their wish lists to him and promise him they have been good, and then we will hand the authentic looking Santa a peacefully sleeping baby. While Santa cuddles the baby the two boys will smile angelically at the camera, capturing a picture so sweet it will need to be framed and displayed as soon as we get home. 

The Reality

After searching different malls we finally find the one that seems to have the least likelyhood of lines, and rush over on a weeknight in order to avoid the crowds. We wait in a short line before we reach Santa and his "elves" (the Santa's actually pretty good, the elves consist of a bunch of bored high school girls) L reluctanly sit on the bench next to Santa, leaving a good two foot birth between them. He is obviously torn between the idea that this is the guy we keep telling him will get him his Buzz Lightyear, and some major distrust for the man. While L continues to give him a mean side eye, he mutters his Christmas wish and refuses to say anything else. L2 is not torn at all. He is not going near the scary man in the red suite and any attempt to get him to sit near him results in a meltdown of epic proportions. All the commotin wakes the baby, who decides he must be starving and starts vocalizing his demands. Finally we manage to get a picture, but only by S and I holding onto the kids and also being in the picture.  Twenty seven dollars later I have two 5X7 photos where L2 and R are both crying, L is looking at Santa like he's an axe murderer and S and I both look slightly perturbed at being in a Santa photo at 29 years of age.

Scenario #3: Christmas Morning

Rose Colored Glasses version

S and I will get up before all the kids and head downstairs to get video cameras and coffee ready. We will be ready and waiting to record every magical moment as the kids creep down the stairs in matching  PJ's and discover that Santa has been there! We will all sit cozily in front of the Christmas tree, Christmas music playing softly in the background, and take turns opening our stockings. Then Daddy and L will hand out presents which will be opened in a calm and orderly fashion. The whole morning will be relaxing and wonderful.

The Reality

The kids drag an exhausted mommy and daddy out of bed. We scramble to find the video camera (is it even charged?!!?)  and mommy tries to snap pictures while situating the baby to nurse. Coffee does not get made until well into the morning. The kids tear into their stocking and immediately want to eat every piece of candy for breakfast. The news that we will not be having candy for breakfast is not well received. L and Daddy hand out presents, but L wants to open ALL of them and doesn't seem to totally grasp that they are not all for him. An hour later our living room looks like Toys R Us exploded. The whole morning is wondeful..... but not nesicarly relaxing.

So does the reality of Christmas with three young children always match up to the pinterest version that I have in my mind? Nope, not at all. But perfect isn't always better. I love the messy, imperfect, real memories that we are making will our little family of five. I think the pinterest version might actually be a little bit boring. 

With all that being said, our Christmas was amazing, especially being able to celebrate our first one with baby R, and all the little imperfections just made for even more memories. It's real life and I wouldn't change it for anything. And Christmas will still always be my favorite time of the year. And I will still probably always go into it with high expectaitons that might be knocked down a few notches by real life!

I hope everyone had as wonderful as a Christmas as we did, wether you had a picture perfect one or the messy kid version!

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