Traditions: Picking and Choosing

Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of my participation in a blog tour for The Motherhood on behalf of the makers of Children’s MOTRIN® and received compensation to thank me for taking the time to participate. However, all opinions expressed are my own.

In the age of Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram the Mom Comparison Game seems to be in full swing.  Add the holiday season coming up, and it’s at an epic level.

Sure, moms have slathered themselves with Guilt, Not Enoughs, Not As Goods, Never Quite Rights since the very beginning of Motherhood.  But I think that today’s social media age, ratchets it up a notch.  Or a few.  Because now, it’s not just the playdate or school pick up…now it’s a quick sign in, and you’re bombarded with all the Elf on a Shelf art installations, the 27 step tutorials, and cake balls that belong in museums of art.

Now, I’m not knocking any of these things, or the fabulous women (and men) who do them.  Not at all.  I love me a good tutorial as much as the next girl.

Thing is, if I’m not careful, I turn what should be an awesome time of making memories with my family into STRESSSSSSS.  Yelling.  Messes.  Crying kids and mamas balled up in a corner eating raw
cookie dough.

The holidays are stressful, and honestly, beyond checking out entirely, I’m not sure there’s any way to avoid it.  At least to some degree.

Look, maybe I’m outta line here by saying this, but I very deeply believe that the magic of holidays means adding things to the already thin margin in your life that are different and special.

Maintaining traditions requires being intentional, and well, let’s call a spade a spade here: WORK.  Different and Special are just that.  Not the everyday.

Baking cookies is a messy, time consuming process…especially if your kids are still really bitty…but if that’s a part of your holiday magic, then, get ready to sweep up some flour and scrub obnoxiously large cookie sheets.

Trimming a tree means needles in every crevice of your home and breakable ornaments that the Baby MUST TOUCH.  Also, if you’re like me, TINSEL.  (Which is the most deliciously magical thing in the Universe.  However, also the messiest thing direct from the pit of hell.  It’s a toss up, really.)

Sometimes I go too far in the name of Simplify.  Sometimes I fall trap to taking out too much.  I claim it in the name of Mama’s Sanity, and while that’s real and true, sometimes I need to let the pendulum swing closer to middle before I make decisions.

And, you better believe I’ve bit off way more Holiday Magic than I can chew.  Too many times than I’d care to admit.

So what’s the balance?  Where do you say “I have no bandwidth to do all this extra stuff, but you know, they’re kids and Traditions are important to me.”

This year I thought I’d plan ahead a teeny tiny bit.


I sat down with the kids and had them list out what some of their favorite things were about Christmas.  Anything.  Name it.  Go.

And you know what?  It was really fun to sit down and do this with them.  I loved hearing the things they remembered from years’ past.  And it made me realize that you know what?  It feels thankless sometimes to deck the halls and sprinkle the sprinkles…BUT THEY REALLY DO NOTICE.

I added a few things that I’ve been wanting to do…you know, because I saw it on Pinterest.  But not the Elf.  Never the Elf.

Then, we went back through the list and starred the items we would be really bummed out if they didn’t happen.

You know, the most important ones.

Things like cutting a fresh tree from Halloways.  Decorating the outside of the house so that it can be seen from space.  Our Jesse Advent.  The Lego Advent.

When we were done, I had a really great and manageable list of Traditions to focus on in the coming months.  Rather than try to knock out everything on the list all at once, I’ll focus on the few…and if I have time and energy to do some of the Extra Extras, then bonus points!

So, what’s on your Must Happen List…and what’s on the Fine, If We Get To It List?

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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1
    Christina says:

    I love posts like this that focus on your family holiday traditions–like the Jesse Advent posts and your nativity obsession. They’re some of my favorite posts!

  2. 2

    Love this! Our list consists of decorating the tree and the gingerbread house (after I hot glue the frame together!), and “snowball ” marshmallow fights. Our advent countdown consists of reading a piece of the birth story each day. And our elf is getting snowed-in at the North Pole this year. I felt obligated because he was a gift but no more!

  3. 3

    I love the idea of making a list! My son is only 1 but we’ve been married for 9 years so we have our own traditions in place and I’d like to add a bunch and start new ones with my son. I don’t know where to start though. I also love that you are anti-Elf! I hate that thing and we will never have the elf in my house.

  4. 4

    Great post and wonderful reminder to slow it down!! Have to ask…where did you get your heart print? Love it!

  5. 5

    Thanks for this post! I find myself in the same boat year after year of feeling overwhelmed. I hate putting the pressure on myself to do all the things. I can’t wait to talk with my kiddos.

  6. 6

    Let’s see, we ‘go light looking’ on Christmas eve, with hot chocolate and cozy blankets. I’ve been doing that with my younger siblings and nieces/nephews, and now it’s carried over to my own child. And this year is the 6th Annual Cookie Bake Day that a retired colleague and I host for our families. The kids love it!

  7. 7

    Ok, I’m totally curious…what are Pee-Dub Cinnamon Rolls? Or am I just reading that wrong? Cuz it kind of makes me snicker.