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I vividly remember my first Christmas as a single mom. It just so happened that it coincided with my son’s first away visit. He was gone. I was alone. I cuddled up under my green, velvet Christmas comforter, curled into a ball, and died a thousand deaths. Christmas sucked.
It didn’t stop at self pitty. I was ridden with Christmas flavored mom guilt. My son would never know a “normal” holiday, he was probably confused and certainly this was all my fault. The next year I vowed things would be different. As the saying goes, I drank some coffee, put on some gangster rap, and handled it. Unfortunately, “handled it” meant that I ended up an overexerted Christmas flavored Pinterest mom tieing myself to traditions that threatened to steal my sanity. Single mamas, if you want to survive Christmas DO NOT – I repeat DO NOT – get sucked into these holiday nightmares traditions.
Perhaps the biggest mistake I made was deciding that Christmas magic should come in the form of an Elf on the Shelf. What I didn’t realize is that adopting this tradition meant less sleep. If you adopt this tradition be prepared to wake up in a panic induced state at least 5 out of 7 nights every week for the entire month of December because you will forget to move the damn thing. And it gets worse. At first being creative is fun but creating an Elf based masterpiece every night becomes exhausting and if your Elf isn’t as much fun as the other Elf’s in town be prepared to explain why. In fact, adopting an Elf means being prepared to explain why to a lot of things – mostly in the form of lies. Here – have a taste of some of the lies I’ve told:
Son, “Is that Buddy (our demon Elf’s name) on your computer screen?”
Me, “Oh no. Those are pictures of other people’s Elves.”
Son, “Why doesn’t Buddy have holes in his nose? How can he breath?”
Me, “In the morning he turns into a doll. Dolls don’t need to breath.”
Son, “Why is Buddy on the shelf again?”
Me, “Because you didn’t listen to me yesterday when I asked you to brush your teeth. He doesn’t move when you’ve been naughty.”
And it never ends. You will suck yourself into a web of lies, forced creativity, and stress should you adopt this holiday tradition from Hell.
The public school system assumes that I have a never ending supply of time and craftiness. We have purple day, pink day, dress like a pirate day, 100 day of school day, story book character day, and then of course we have holiday days – basically a whole month worth of holiday specialness that includes an in-class party, Storytime with Santa, and a winter show.
When my son was in Kindergarten I wanted to make a good impression. I handcrafted individual scrooges out of grapes, strawberries, and bananas before I stuffed goodie bags with handmade reindeer food that left a glitter trail from my kitchen to my underwear. Yes, I had glitter in my underwear. And do you know what? Half the kids didn’t even eat the scrooges. About a quarter of them ended up on the floor, some in the trash, some were half eaten, and maybe one of them ended up in a nose.
You will never get the time back nor will the time you invested be appreciated. Buy some holiday themed oreos and call it a day.
You, my dear, are an amazing mommy. You do not need anyone else to acknowledge that. In fact, if it’s better for you, avoid Facebook for the month of December. All of a sudden you are off the hook from multiple holiday dramas including:
Making sure your child doesn’t get candy cane on his/her picture perfect, Christmas attire.
Finding picture, perfect Christmas attire.
Making your Christmas tree look like a Pottery Barn catalog complete with gifts that both you and I know will never be played with.
Trying to get a happy Santa picture. The one with the tears and a runny nose is more realistic anyway and will provide a much better laugh in 16 years.
Putting on makeup. Haven’t you done enough already?
Christmas cards. Gabrielle Union already won that one so why even try?
Sit back with your Skinny Peppermint Vodka Mocha, blame any missing batteries or poorly constructed toys on Santa’s 2016 workforce reduction, and smile because YOU, my dear, are a fucking, amazing mother.