One of my all-time parenting fails was allowing the girls to watch “Christmas Vacation” before they were ready. John and I had not watched it in over a decade and it is one of our top 10 Christmas movies. I remembered the context but had forgotten about the language. I had lost my “MOM OF THE YEAR” award January 1st, so life went on. My favorite part is when Clark Griswold goes ballistic at the end after bending over backward to have the “perfect” Christmas. If you can’t remember…google it.
Every year I expect a Hallmark movie at my house. Every year I am extremely disappointed. Go get the tree? Someone is mad at the world. Cookies? They leave me and move on to something else. It never quite lives up to my expectation. So, I quit. Seriously. I quit. I am not having any expectations this year and I HAVE A PLAN FOR THE TEENAGE ATTITUDE.
Over the course of years and especially the past two with John being sick, my expectations have changed dramatically. Between sickness, death, and family things, Christmas has changed for me.
I say no to a lot of things. I do not want to be busy. Busyness tends to cover up other things and draw you away from what is most important.
I do not buy frivolous things just to say I bought someone something and that it is Christmas. I would rather buy them something through the year when I see it and think of them. Or do something from my heart because I want to not because it is Christmas and it is expected.
I decorate for my family, not to impress anyone.
I treasure traditions that matter to our family. I say no to traditions pushed on me.
Sometimes I get Christmas cards out. Sometimes I do not.
I like small gatherings. Big parties do nothing for me. Small talk bores me.
I wrap all at once and at the last minute because that is how I do life.
I spend time with my people that I care about most.
Finally, as I have teenagers, I am preparing my Clark Griswold speech and giving it to them AHEAD of time. This year I am playing offense instead of defense. If you are a mom that has been exasperated at ANY time because of family attitude problems, you have my permission to use any parts of this that you see fit.
“We are getting ready to (fill in your family tradition) and I know that you would rather be snap chatting or netflicking but, we are all in this together and we are going to have the hap-happ-happiest time doing it.
That means you….with the red hair, I do not care what kind of mood you are in, I expect an Academy Award winning performance tonight. I expect singing and fa-la-laing ALL NIGHT LONG. And you…Miss “I WANT TO BE WITH MY FRIENDS”…First of all…no. Second of all…no. Uncross your arms, get rid of your Resting Bitch Face and try to enjoy the last couple Christmas seasons that you have left at home. And you…Grinchy Boy…you have 6 weeks of being off your medicine before your big health test. We have a lot to fit in. I expect you to put on your red coat and cut down that Christmas tree no matter how high it might be…even if we have to tie it to the wall. And me…I will not expect perfection. I will not expect Hallmark. I will expect the Bowers family in all their glory and messiness to make some kind of memory. That is all.”
It will not be pretty. It will be messy and I am okay with that because that is us. We are here. We are showing up with small expectations and so much hope.