Christmas is right around the corner, and I’ve promised myself this year I WILL NOT STRESS.
Every year I say this, I tell myself I’m going to plan ahead and get All The Things done, so when the holiday arrives I can sit back with my glass of champagne and relax.
Only problem–I have never actually done this. Instead I spend the week before Christmas scrambling to create a Martha Stewart holiday, complete with from-scratch sugar cookies, hand-crafted gifts for my kids’ teachers, and perfectly thoughtful gifts for everyone on my list. Oh, and Christmas cards.
Well, this year I’m done. Here’s why.
1. My blood pressure is going up just thinking about ordering and addressing and mailing out Christmas cards, but how will anyone know how fabulous and adorable my family is if I don’t send them photographic proof? Also, people could drop me off their Christmas card list, and then I won’t have any proof of social success for display in my house. But since this is Keeping It Real Christmas, I’ll admit that I am not successful socially. I have four kids, ages 8 and under, so I rarely socialize with anyone with a full set of adult teeth.This includes my husband, who has a fake tooth thanks to an unfortunate childhood incident involving a BB gun. My Christmas card friends are all socializing together while I stay home and scrub dried cheese off the floor, so I might as well make peace with that and just wish everyone a merry Christmas on Facebook, accompanied by a picture of my kids posed in front of the massive and ever-present laundry pile on my fireplace hearth.
2. Baking from scratch is disastrous in my house because, see above. Four kids. We need slice and bake rolled dough, people, or better yet–how about Christmas bananas, kids? Hold two on your head like reindeer antlers, and hello Christmas spirit!
3. My brother is getting married Saturday. This Saturday, as in five days before Christmas. I will not go into the 337 different ways this is stressing me out because that is obnoxious. I am the sister of the groom NOT THE BRIDE and I need to get over myself. But before I do, I must tell you that outfitting my kids for the wedding has involved approximately 1 million trips to 1 million stores where I have purchased 1 million pairs of pants that do not fit anybody.
It will all be worth it Saturday, though, when my baby brother marries his perfect match, who is lovely and kind and fits beautifully into our family. I’m going to cry like a wee baby during the ceremony, I just know it. Also, I get to wear a fabulous dress, so YAY. And really, will anybody notice if the boys aren’t wearing pants?
4. Every year I have a genius plan to craft simple gifts for my kids’ teachers, but really I end up losing whole days of sleep crafting my equivalent of the Mona Lisa, times 14. 14! My kids have a lot of teachers and therapists, and I justify the all-nighters because these professionals are all dying for handcrafted magnets made by me, right? Wait, no. They’re actually not. Which is why this year I’m choosing sleep. (Teachers, if I could gift you with sleep, I would do that. I know it’s what you really want.)
5. I am not stressing over gifts for my kids because CHRISTMAS IS NOT ABOUT THE GIFTS, KIDS. IT’S ABOUT JESUS. Jesus received three gifts for Christmas, and last I checked, none of my kids are better than Jesus, so three gifts each should suffice. The kids are totally on board with this because they are not materialistic at all and would never punch one another in the face over a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy. (Now there’s an idea. Happy Meal toys for Christmas! They’ll love it.) As for the rest of my family, they may all receive a can of dry shampoo, my go-to gift for every occasion. I know, it’s not a weird gift at all because it’s a gift that CHANGES LIVES. Buy yourself a can and find out for yourself. It’s Keeping It Real Christmas, so let’s keep it real and not wash our hair.
I’m feeling festive already.
Today is the final episode of the “Serial” podcast, and if you haven’t been listening and obsessing over this thing, you really need to question your priorities. It is a fascinating true crime story told week by week, and I have been hooked to the point of listening to podcasts about the podcast. It’s a lot of podcasts. Check out serialpodcast.org for all the episodes, and be sure to start at the beginning. I apologize in advance for the hours of your life you will lose to this thing, but I promise you won’t mind. In fact, you’ll thank me. So…you’re welcome.
(Betsy Swenson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)