What memories do you want your children to take with them as they grow up? When they think of the holidays, what do you hope they recall?
I know what I don"t want them to remember: a mother so stressed out about the "production" that no one is having fun. Holidays are the best when I find that balance that creates something special that connects me with my family here and now, and at the same time connects me to my past and to the future where my children have the memories of what we do today. That feeling of connection is is the magical part of this season for me.
So I have to let go of a lot of stuff. Yes, the house needs to be cleaner than normal when Nana comes, but it won't be perfect. There will be dust bunnies, and the hallway will not be painted. The kids rooms will be partial disasters, but the bathrooms will be clean, the floors will be mopped, and the kitchen will sparkle. And guess what, Nana won't really care!
I have to set a budget, and I have to stay within it. Money is tight, and if I pretend it isn't then the stress of overspending will make me resent the holiday, not embrace it. I need to focus on what I CAN do and not dwell on the gifts or things I can't have as part of our holiday. I won't focus on the I Phone my daughter wants but will not get, rather I need to focus on having fun shopping for the stuff she is going to get.
I am "doing" Thanksgiving dinner at our house, only for ten, but it is the first time it is more than just the four of us. We typically go to Nana or Grandma's house. My Thanksgiving will be good, we will have fun together. It will not be perfect. I work full time. I need some shortcuts to make it happen. So while the pie crusts will not be homemade, my daughter will be thrilled that the mashed potatoes will be. The table will be pretty, but not worthy of a magazine. And as I type this I remind myself that I have little memory of what table settings my mom used, just that we used the nice glasses, and the turkey looked awesome. My kids will not care that our tablecloth is inexpensive, and that the centerpiece is not a work of art. They will see family sitting together, and turkey, and feel love and a sense of connection. We will laugh about who carves the turkey, and debate the merits of candied yams vs mashed potatoes. These are the memories I hope they will carry with them.
It will be good, and it will be best if I am relaxed and enjoying it with everyone, not worrying about how things don't live up to some artificial ideal in my head created from a Norman Rockwell painting or a Martha Stewart magazine.
So I wish you and your families a warm, stress free holiday season full of happy memories of the past, and hopes for the future. Happy Thanksgiving!