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As exhausting as it is, I’ll never be prepared for this season to be over

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I have to be honest — I don’t love decorating for Christmas.

In fact, I have to mentally prepare myself just to decorate the Christmas tree with my kids.

There’s at least a three-day waiting period from the time we heave it into its stand to when we actually start adorning it with lights and breakable glass orbs.

“When? When? When?” the kids repeatedly ask. “When can we decorate the tree?”

“Soon,” I say.

“Why not today?”

“Because I just need some time.”

Time to do some deep breathing exercises.

Time to repeat the mantra “it will be fun, it will be fun, it will be fun,” even though I never really get to the point of believing it.

Time to psyche myself up to conquer the battles of who gets to hang which ornament where.

Time to imagine the oohing and aahing over a lit tree with sparkling glass after I wrestle the knots out of the strings of lights and sweep up at least one broken ornament.

Time to force myself to believe that it will be worth it.

Because I know the hours spent decorating will include lots of grimacing and loud sighing.

I know I’ll be mediating bickering.

Instead of casually unpacking decorations, I know it will be more like “Gentle. Ge-entle. GENTLE!” And “Be care-ful. Waaait. Stop. You’re going to break it!” And “No, not that one.” And, “Please don’t touch. What did I just say? Hey! Don’t touch!”

I know that as much as I WANT it to be fun, it won’t really be.

Not for me, right now, anyway.

And I need time to remind myself that even though it’s not fun for me it feels like everything to my kids.

So, I’ll do it. Because sometimes that’s a mom’s job — to do the not-always-fun work of making memories that last a lifetime.

I just need time to brace myself for the crazy and assume the posture of embracing these years in which my kids adore participating in this annual ritual — WITH ME.

Even though it doesn’t always feel worth the pandemonium that decorating the tree entails, I need time to remember that it will be worth it.

Because when all is said and done, it always is.

When the chaos turns to comfort as we revel in the glow of our lit, gloriously imperfect Christmas tree, I see the sparkle in their eyes.

And I start to see the experience with childlike wonder too, realizing that as much as I have to mentally prepare to take on this task — this season of Christmas with kids — I’ll never be mentally prepared for it to be over.

A version of this post originally appeared here. Be sure to follow Jenny on Facebook for more on her incomplete family and imperfect motherhood.

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