Remember the way you felt?
How excited you were to wake up that morning?
The lights. The decorations. The smell of hot cocoa and syrupy pancakes. The sight of presents all perfectly assembled just waiting under the tree. It was as if time stood still. As if yesterday didn’t happen. As if tomorrow was a promise. And regardless of your family traditions or religious affiliation, we all shared the same feeling.
That it was perfect.
Perfect to us.
Well, now it’s our turn. We’re The Big Guy. The maker of magic. The creator of all things Christmas. I’m looking forward to these next eight to ten years of innocence. Of continuing these precious holiday traditions with my own children. But at the same time, I know that we are setting the bar. High. I’m talking Instagram-perfect-meets-millennial-Martha-Stewart-high.
Yet, here I am. Hastily wrapping toys and trimming ribbons the night before the big day. And in between baking, OK burning, Santa’s cookies and chopping carrots for the reindeer, I wonder— does all of this really matter?
Will they even remember?
Recently, my husband told me a story. It was about his first year coming home from college for winter break. Unbeknownst to him, it was over. There was no tree. No decorations. Nothing. It was like Christmas was just another Tuesday. And who could blame them? After eighteen years I suppose you think you’re done.
Well, as it turns out, you’re not.
The deeper I delve into my parenting role, the more I realize our job is never over. Not when they’re eight, eight-teen, or apparently thirty-three. But it makes sense. As parents, we are the keeper of childhood memories. Traditions.
We are their forever home.
My husbands experience makes me think about how our own children will remember the holidays. How their memories will serve as a sort of measuring stick. Was it enough? Were they happy? Will they still want to put that snitchy elf on the shelf? Buy matching Christmas pajamas like we did? Or make my grandmothers cookies?
Only time will tell.
And maybe the snitchy elf.
But there’s got to be some middle ground. To make peace with doing our best. To try. Even if it isn’t Instagram-worthy. To accept that they probably won’t remember that monochromatic wrapping paper and matching ribbon. The amount you spent on gifts. Or the fact that the damn reindeer carrots were organic. To realize that what they will remember are those same sights, smells and sounds that you once recognized as a child.
The ones that make you want to believe all over again.
So, here’s to traditions. To putting up the tree, even when they’re off to college. To making cocoa. Pancakes. And cookies. To burning a few batches along the way. To holding on to a small piece of their childhood. To holding on to a small piece of your own.
Here’s to being perfect, Momma.
Perfect to them.