I have the best memories of Christmas from my childhood. My mom (a Jew from the Bronx, New York) loved Christmas, and she did everything she could to make it a special time for me. We visited the ‘real’ Santa, went to the tree farm to cut down our own Christmas tree, baked cookies and decorated every room of the house.
Since having children, I have felt desperate to ensure that they have similarly warm, happy memories of the season and have already tried to introduce some of the traditions from my own childhood. Of course, they’re two, so it hasn’t made much of an impact yet, but I reckon it’s best to start early.
The problem is that a picture-perfect Christmas seems to be increasingly unattainable. Between Instagram, Pinterest and the selection of glossy catalogues that are delivered in the post each day, I’m feeling an increasing sense of anxiety that Christmas in my house may not be ‘just right’. I’m already cursing the fact that I haven’t decorated the entire house in tasteful shades of grey to coordinate with white fairy lights and a theme of silver stars, and it would seem that a quaint wood burner is somewhat impractical in a modern three bed mid-terrace.
And now Christmas isn’t just one day, but a whole month of North Pole breakfasts and advent calendars and pantomimes and ice skating and visits to Father Christmas and Elves on Shelves and Christmas Eve boxes and frankly I am struggling to keep up! I already had one minor breakdown on the 30th of November because my children didn’t have advent calendars to open the next morning. They are two! They don’t know what an advent calendar is, let alone that they don’t have one! Today’s internal crisis is that we’ve booked to take the boys on a Christmas Eve train ride to meet Father Christmas, but I saw another train ride advertised and I’m now concerned that I’ve chosen the wrong one. I am a grown-ass adult with a job and a mortgage and a family, plagued by a constant niggling worry that there might be a better Christmas-themed steam train in the local vicinity.
It’s time to take a step back. Although I remember the special activities my mom planned for me, I remember more fondly the time we spent as a family: singing Christmas songs as we drove through the hills to the tree farm; rediscovering each sentimental ornament as it was carefully unpacked from its box; curling up on the sofa next to my dad to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas before putting out the milk and cookies for Santa. For my own sanity, I need to remember that throwing money at every idyllic activity through the whole of December and generating an Instagram feed to prove that I am #blessed and #makingmemories is not the way to ensure a happy holiday season.
So, this Christmas, you’ll find us in our living room, watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, eating popcorn in our pyjamas. The tree will be a bit too big for the room, the decorations won’t all match, the floor will be littered with cushions flung from the sofa and my toddlers will likely have lost interest in the film in favour of dumping a box of Duplo on the floor. It may not be a picture-perfect Christmas, but I’ll settle for our perfect Christmas.
Rebecca is an American living in England. A mother of twin boys, she used to enjoy baking and gigs but now spends most of her time singing nursery rhymes and answering the same damn questions from strangers over and over again. She is a part-time secondary school English teacher. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram
Image credit: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash