Christmas Confessions of a Weary Mother

ae36562c66fad2ff246db4fd78613f0fIf you want to suck the air right out of room casually mention anytime between Thanksgiving and Christmas that you find the holiday season less than magical. As people are gasping for oxygen, quickly add that this doesn’t mean you don’t totally embrace the religious significance of 12/25 (this will aid in getting folks breathing again). As they’re furiously inhaling use this time to further explain that you find conquering your Christmas To Do list about as much fun as smooshing your noncompliant ab flab into Spanx. As soon as you finish this sentence watch as people flee from you in fear that your anti holly, jolly, holiday spirit might be contagious.

This is because confessing that you consider Christmas a month of hard labor is number two on the Top 10 List of Things No Mother is Ever Allowed to Divulge. This is not to say; I don’t find moments of Christmas enchanting and life affirming. What I don’t find so captivating is the 21st Century pressure to create a perfect Christmas. Did my mother and her generation feel this compulsion? No. We need to look no further then the average Christmas in 1975. Using my family as an exemplar let’s survey the facts. There was one tree, one single room festooned in evergreen finery, some outside lights strung so haphazardly by my dad, that my mother informed the neighbors it was “avant garde.” The only Christmas craft I did was shove cloves into an orange to hang in my great aunt’s closet and the presents were purchased from Sears. Meanwhile, family bonding occurred when I helped my grandma make all the Christmas cookies, marveling at how she could chain smoke a pack of Virginia Slims and, yet, not get a single ash in the gingerbread dough.

Now, compare that to the current lunacy mothers have wrapped themselves up in. I’d like to blame social media for turning Christmas into a competition or at least creating a social class of holiday underachievers but first we need to look back further, pre Pinterest, and there you’ll find ground zero for Christmas crazy, Family Fun magazine. Yep, this is where it all started. The out-of-control crafting, artisanal winter parties for children featuring an albino Rudolph made from goat cheese, pre-macerated by the molars of Malta monks, with an heirloom sun-dried tomato nose. Add in decorating your fireplace mantel with snow that’s actually hand loomed, pet dander and you have the birth of holiday insanity.

The saving grace of all this nonsense (not that I don’t think a goat cheese Rudolph doesn’t sound delish) is that a decade ago mothers could still fib about their Christmas creations. As in, “Oh yeah, for sure, the kids and I are going to start harvesting pet dander this weekend.” Today, that won’t pass muster. Oh no, in 2014, everyone is living in the show me state. You just can’t say you did something you have to produce a pictorial with catchy sayings and enhanced graphics.

All any of this has done is create Tis the Season to Be One Upping. Case in point, I don’t know of a single person who just puts up one Christmas tree. We’re in the middle of a hard-core, tree-palooza. Go to anyone’s house and there’s a tree in the living room, another in the kitchen, a ski lodge inspired evergreen in the den and a personalized, themed tree for each child’s bedroom. (And to my friend with a tree in her downstairs half bath please note I’m considering staging an intervention.) I’m exhausted just thinking about all the decorating, never mind the backbreaking labor of taking it all down, packing it away and hauling the boxes to the basement.

And it’s not just the decorating. It’s the parties. Am I the only one who ponders the fact that genteel hospitality maybe dead? R.I.P. going to a holiday party where you’re only required to bring yourself (and a little something for you hosts). Now it’s cookie exchanges, gift card tree swaps, and the worst, the very worst, the office Secret Santa because that’s just what you need on your To Do list – buy presents for a co-worker whose name you have trouble remembering.

None of this even compares to the holiday time suck that is the Elf of the Shelf. Okay, folks, I don’t claim to have the best connection to the big guy surfing the celestial byways on the fluffiest of cumulus cloud BUT I’m thinking while He might be okay with sharing his birthday with Santa this whole shady shelf elf is a no–can-do.

Did you know the phrase Elf on the Shelf, when translated from the obscure, native, North Pole language of Ydnac Enac, means More Work for Mothers? How many times have weary, almost to the point of tears, moms finally laid down their heads to go to sleep and just as they’re about to float off to the land of blissful slumber they are jerked awake by remembering they didn’t move that freaking elf? And, oh no, you just can’t move the blasted thing, to say, the dining room. You have to create an elf tableau so impressive that your Instagram picture has the potential to go viral and get you on the Today Show.

The stress from maintaining a 30-day alternate hobgoblin holiday universe is manifesting into a new disorder called elfinsomnia. This ailment is currently linked to being responsible for two out of three maternal meltdowns in the Target checkout line during the month of December.

I swear to you, even with all my grousing, I still hear the bell. You know the one from The Polar Express where if you truly believe the bell still rings for you. Except, I’m afraid it’s the alarm on my cell phone telling me it’s time for my anti-anxiety meds. On a positive note, at least, they’re red and green.

Merry Christmas!

 **For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

19 thoughts on “Christmas Confessions of a Weary Mother

  1. Forgive Me confession says:

    I have 1 tree, 1 outdoor wreath, and NO fricking Elf. A simple Christmas….I refuse to play the Country Living Christmas or the Martha Stewart Seasons Greetings bullshit. And frankly, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass what others think. I live in a suburban subdivision with homes that scream “I am related to Clark Griswold”. Their overdone yards and homes could land airplanes. I say to them “have at it”, because come Christmas, I won’t have a beer drinking, idiot cousin Eddie emptying his chemical toilet in my front yard because his “shitter’s full”. So for what it’s worth, Merry Fucking Noncompetitive Christmas.

  2. Holiday Underachievers Unite says:

    I stand before today to announce that I’m a member of the Holiday Underachiever Club. Thanks Snarky for giving my ailment a name and support group!

  3. Christmas Lover says:

    Hey Snarky, I think you are a bitter bitch. I think your real problem is that you’re lazy and just want to sit on your ass and not do all the stuff you need to do to create a magical holiday. I pity your family and will say a prayer for them since it looks like they’ll be having a very crappy Christmas.

  4. mamalion3 says:

    Well, it’s ironic because I agree, yet have 7, that’s right SEVEN trees!!! I will say that many of them can be walked straight into the attic and don’t require dis assemblage. I’m irritated by the new trend of bragging on how you shouldn’t do much in the way of presents for your kids if you want them to “get” the real meaning of Christmas! Christmas is about a child. A child born of God who came to have a human experience here on Earth. He probably collected rocks, went fishing and loved building things with his Dad and He probably would have loved the latest hot wheels set as a boy if he lived today! Christmas is about the gift off a child so be giving to children, but don’t put up with them demanding or throwing fits for anything either! Presents don’t spoil children, parents spoil children by allowing bad behavior!

      • mamalion3 says:

        Yeah, when my oldest was a baby I thought …I’m going to do a tree just for her in pink with baby dolls and ballerinas, won’t that be sweet. I really didn’t think about what I set in motion. Then it felt unfair not to do the same for my son when he came along three years later! I certainly wasn’t expecting my surprise package 8 years later which has now created three trees that sit side by side upstairs and can be seen from the street. Now neighbors comment how much they love it and so I’m stuck in tree hell at least for a few more years!

  5. Not Mrs. Scrooge says:

    Was that your voice I heard in my head over the weekend? I am so over the insanity, stupidity and super commercialism that Christmas has turned into. The people who think they have to buy gifts for Great Aunt Fanny’s nephew’s second cousin on her father-in-law’s side is complete idiocy. Or the people who think that the “brand name” of an item shows how much you love/care about them. And don’t get me started on the elf shelf thing. Does anyone remember that 40+ years that very same elf was a ornament for the Christmas tree or a door hanger? I am a crafter/sewer/quilter person. I used to make most of the gifts I gave for any occasion: wedding, birthday, baby shower, bridal shower, etc. I stopped doing that when I realized the majority of people don’t appreciate the time, effort and moneyh that goes into a hand made gift. When I make something for someone it comes from the heart and that person is getting a piece of me I will never get back.

    I don’t hate Christmas. I love Christmas. I used to have something of Christmas in every room in my house even if it was a stuffed Santa. I love that Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I just think we should rethink how we celebrate this Holy day. Thank you Snarky for putting into words what I’m feeling.

  6. Matt says:

    I think you worry to much about what people think of you and you pay attention to the wrong people on social media, not your real friends. You can do the elf without having to get carried away. Just pick it up and set it in a new location, that’s it done. If you forget, tell the kids sometimes he gets lazy like you guys do. And I think there is a lot more people out there that have only one tree than the people that have multiple they just don’t post on social media. Again you pay attention attention to the wrong people.
    Merry Christmas

    • Matt says:

      Oh God you’re from Leawood now I understand why your views are so off base and think everyone has multiple trees and has to have the biggest and best lights. Anyone that lives in the KC area knows you live in the snarky capital of the Midwest. If you are tired of keeping up with the joneses maybe you should move out of your beloved Bluevalley school district and you would see people on the outside live normal lives and are greatful for what they have and are not in competition with their neighbors. On a side note you should feel honored a total stranger took the time to google your book.

      • snarkyinthesuburbs says:

        Matt, I’m poking fun, jesting. I’m not bearing my soul to a therapist. Nothing I write is meant to be taken seriously. Relax. Just as a FYI I have lived all over the United States. Sixteen cities to be exact. I’m not a native Leawoodian. And as for those Blue Valley schools they are exceptional.

      • Marilyn says:

        Hey Matt, you big name calling jerk. This is a blog for people with a sense of humor. Get over yourself and please get off this blog because apparently you don’t get it. You’re killing the vibe.

      • apologies for snarky says:

        My comments were uncalled for and childish and I shouldn’t generlize people from your area. I found myself coming to your blog through the webs of Facebook from a relatives post that lives in the area and when they come south for the holidays they are full of snarkyness so I read quickly through it and thought it was another person complaining about the holidays and couldn’t believe people could follow such negativity. But reading through your other work I get a better feel for your writing. So reading it as an article poking fun of the people like my very own long lost auntie it’s a tad funny.
        A very merry Christmas
        P.S. I’ll stay off your blog now good luck with what you do

  7. Ronna says:

    Another post I can relate to! I’m convinced we’re kindred spirits! Great minds and all that. I too have grown to detest this month with its looong list of additional not-fun tasks. Plus the unbearably sickening yuletide weirdness my friends begin exuding, oh, about Thanksgiving. Not that I want to squash their holiday cheer, but come on.They’ve convinced themselves they enjoy all the preparation that becomes a daily chore until the big day.

    Again this year, I’m not feeling it. Today I congratulated the guys at my office for their Grinchy behavior. It was so refreshing for someone to not feel obligated to feel holiday spirit.

    (BTW, be happy you HAVE a basement. I gave mine up when I moved from the midwest to the west coast.)

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