It’s Christmas Eve Eve Eve

Tonight is Christmas Eve Eve Eve, which means Christmas is 25% closer than it was last night on Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve, a puzzling fact, since I’m certainly not 25% more prepared.

Perhaps I’m not better prepared because I spent a good chunk of last night in the bathtub, having snagged two packages of Cheez-Its from my kids’ snack shelf in the pantry and one Stella Artois from the top shelf in the fridge so I could lay in classy, naked, boob-floaty splendor, reading my latest trashy, magic-laden novel by candlelight whilst dropping crackers into the bog and dredging them back out to eat their soggy goodness because if you get them fast enough, they’re still crunchyish, and therefore totally edible, as every mom knows.

My bathtub ecstasy lasted 8 minutes ’til I was caught, literally red-handed, up to my wrist in crinkly Cheez–It plastic, whereupon my child cried because I stole snacks that were not mine and ate them all gone. “You ate them ALL GONE, MOM,” my child cried when he caught me. And I, wise and mature, countered, “DID NOT. There are, like, two whole crackers left in here and at least that many floating in the tub, although you’ll have to work to fish those out if you’re hoping to eat them.” And my child said, “EW, gross; you STOLE them and then you RUINED THEM.” Which is what’s wrong with kids these days. No work ethic, expecting others to steal and fish for them. I, though? I am here to provide a better example. You’re welcome, kids.

It’s 7:08pm on Christmas Eve Eve Eve, and I have Things to Do. Things to Finish. Things *ahem* to Start. Like cooking and cleaning and creating meaningful gift experiences that show my kids they are worth every extravagance while giving them a global perspective that helps them become well rounded, not entitled, and productive members of society. No pressure, though.

It’s 7:10pm on Christmas Eve Eve Eve and I should be Better Prepared than I am right now, which is how I feel about life, really, and not just about Christmas.

I should be better prepared, right? I’m pretty sure I should.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have spent my day sitting at my desk with my chin propped on my hand, staring at my rain soaked backyard while the dogs tackled each other and dragged every puddle into the house, and hitting the refresh button on my Facebook feed, hoping TipHero would post videos faster so I can see all the ways I’m failing to hack my life.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have spent my day hollering at my kids to quit hollering at each other because one copied his brother’s Minecraft creation and so the other hit him in the face with his knee but by accident. 

Perhaps I should’ve had the kids do their chores and their reading.

Or perhaps I should’ve done the laundry.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have slept in.

Perhaps the kids should have.

Or, at the core, perhaps I should’ve done more, and done it before now. At Christmas time and Always.

Perhaps I should’ve done more and done it better, you know? Bigger and brighter, maybe. Bolder.

And perhaps I shouldn’t have been so overwhelmed by All the Things and snuck that box of Cadbury cookies into my bed to eat in secret. The hazelnut ones are the best, by the way. The hazelnut or the shortbread; it’s hard to choose.

Perhaps I should’ve.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps it’s OK to have it partly together this year. Partly together and no more.

Perhaps it’s OK to have it partly together and to be imperfect.

Perhaps it’s OK to do Some of the Things and not All of Them.

Perhaps it’s OK to have dog mud on the couch and not enough Cheez-Its in the house.

Perhaps it’s OK to have wanted to give my kids everything and a global perspective, and to not quite have done either, as though their lives are partly up to them and they get a say, too, in how they turn out.

Perhaps it’s OK to give my kids the few things I can afford and with those my heart, my soul and my life, such that it is, poured out in full.

Perhaps it’s enough to sit in this season of Advent– of waiting in the dark for the Light to come — of Hopes Realized and Hopes Unrealized — and be OK with complexity of it all.

It’s 7:48pm on Christmas Eve Eve Eve, friends, and I have Some Things ready, but not Everything, like I’d hoped, but I’m here, anyway, to say Merry Christmas, and perhaps it’s OK, complex momrades. Perhaps it’s OK anyway.

Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve,

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
28 comments
  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you! And I have never met you! Except through your “momradishness” which I love. Merry Merry Christmas!

  2. Today I was driving and listening to the radio, which I never do. A commercial came on that said… I know, you say this every year, you won’t get overwhelmed this holiday season, you won’t be stressed out, you’ll truly remember why we celebrate. But you let it happen again. But it’s not too late. Hit the pause button…. And on the ad went. But there I was having a perfectly lovely day. We actually don’t gift give. Not in the traditional sense. We shop on random days as a family, and might allow ourselves something we maybe normally wouldn’t. Today I did give a gift card to a friend for something she did 10 months ago. We don’t decorate, at all. No going anywhere or having people over. We do that at other times. But for the holidays it’s just our little family. We love God, we talk about him and how we can express that love, but no Christmas service for us. We have truly, intentionally, changed how we live the holiday so that we don’t come out on the other side with regrets. But then today after sitting with some friends and hearing them lament about their high level of stress and feeling sheepish because I didn’t contribute to the conversation, and then the radio ad, I seriously started to feel almost like I’m doing something wrong, because I was feeling great, loved, reflective and at peace. Sigh…

    Beth, you speak to my heart directly. I’m so glad you slept in, and ate cheez-its in the tub, and watched the rain, and then shared it with us <3

  3. “bog” is toilet in UK English too – I thought “Beth, I know we’re talking about lowering standards but that’s lower than I want to go!” 😉

  4. Love it. I still need to wrap. I still need to clean. But instead.. I went back to your good advice from a previous column. I procrastinated! See I can learn Beth!! I baked some bread. Then I ate some bread.. now I am reading comments on your blog.. obviously I am going to be very prepared for the holidays.

    1. You learn well, young Jedi.

  5. Truer words, my friend. Merry Christmas.

  6. My dead dishwasher and the fact that my college kids have no room for presents in their dorm/apartment and really just need impersonal, icky gift cards, and I haven’t even gotten THOSE yet because I’m in denial so much more easy to bear. Wishing you a happy Advent, Merry Christmas a tiny bit early, and a happy, healthy and wonderful New Year!

  7. Thank you for this! I developed a very festive case of strep throat that took me far too long to figure out, so I got nice and sick before finally getting onto antibiotics. I haven’t even had energy to read or bake cookies, two of my favorite ways to relax. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, so I’m tired all the time. And my son ate the candy off the gingerbread house my daughter was going to give Grandma for Christmas, and there are some HARD FEELINGS about that, man. The other day I was dragging a vacuum cleaner around the center of my bedroom, because I just wasn’t up to actually cleaning all the crap off the floor before I vacummed it, and I thought of my version of your HAGE–“half assed is better than no ass at all.”

  8. Beth, I want to give you big hugs. It hurts when you overhear the kids say “Yeah, we don’t really decorate for Christmas” but when I look around – we have a tree they cut down and we decorated as a family, the stockings are hung, the girl made a string of cranberries and popcorn with her grandma that we laid on evergreen branches on the mantle, and I wrapped the picture above the fireplace and tape the arriving Christmas cards to it… not too shabby. I even -gasp- cleaned the whole entertainment center and put the Precious Moments Nativity scene up on a top shelf.
    But no, it’s not a little something in every room of the house, or a village, or a train…but this is what I can handle. This is what doesn’t make Mom scream to watch what they are doing by the blah-blah. Don’t and Watch and STOP are not being yelled to preserve any precious decor. So I will not try harder, put up more, etc. because them having a friend over and a Nerf gun war in my living room is what I want them to remember, not Mom had a no running rule. Playing with the dog, throwing balls, dance party – that outweighs “we got to read and sit still over Christmas break.” The Mikasa Christmas train can come out in a few more years when the wrestling stops, which will be all too soon.
    I mean, I’m the one who thinks straw strewn through the house would help us get back to the manger scene. 😉
    My mantra is we are all just doing the best we can with what we have. And I’m sticking to it. Enjoy your cheez-its. Please keep sharing so we know we’re all keeping it real. xoxo

  9. You had me at water soaked cheez it’s! Love this- somehow exactly what I needed today! 🙂

  10. Oh, Beth. You speak right to my weary, not-getting-everything-done heart. I’m mostly ok with it this year. I’m mostly accepting that not all of the expectations that I’ve placed on myself will get done in the short, short SHORT amount of time that we have left to rush around like crazy people so that we can actually PAUSE and celebrate the Savior’s birth.
    And now I want a bath. Maybe without the crumbiness. 🙂

  11. Yesterday I had a couple of my first grade students over to make Christmas cookies (something that I have now done exactly once without my family) and then we had a sleepover. Well eventually the emotions of my first Christmas away from home and my thousandth period and the stress of one puppy and two six year olds in a two room apartment might have made me snap just a little and I might have said “This is the last sleepover!” And then gone to bed. Where I messaged my friend about how I felt awful for ending the night like that. She said – they are t going to say, “Remember that one time Ms Suzanne had us over and made us go to bed ” they are going to say, “Remember that time Ms Suzanne had us over for Christmas cookies?!” And she’s right. Here I sit, a 26 year old practical grown up, with 25 years of super chill Christmas memories. We never read the Christmas story (although we did watch it) and our only special Christmas tradition was to stuff our faces with Christmas cookies and meat and cheesies (salami, cheese, Ritz cracker – were culinary geniuses, I know). My point is, we put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything just the darn best. But after 25 years of sitting around in my pjs all day with my family on Christmas talking about how awesome our presents are, I turned out pretty good. I mean, I am a missionary so… Don’t sweat it, parents. It’s super true and cheesy that your presence is the best present. But keep those meat and cheesies coming.

  12. This year I brought back a cherished family tradition …I put the family presents in boxes and let my 8 y.o. wrap them – even one of hers. My teenage daughter did all those last minute gifts.. (Aka, most of the shopping list) It’s win win win. Kids are occupied with Christmas activities YEAH! I don’t have to wrap YEAH! Presents don’t have that boring, uniform look. LOL. I thank god every day that I had a working mom with a love of Christmas AND a mile wide practical streak. Also that it’s not MY turn to host Christmas this year cause the house is a bit of a disaster – wrapping paper and cardboard tubes and ribbons EVERYWHERE

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  13. Nope, no pressure at all.

  14. I didn’t get so much bogged down in my preparations as just run over by a truck. The gifts are all from online and taking forever to get here. Today was shot by going with 9 people to see the must see movie because it can’t wait a week until the crowds fade a bit. We moved our family of five junk collectors in less that 4 days over Thanksgiving break in less than 4 days. Between the old house we rented out and the new house we need to get settled in our finances are leaking like a sieve from emergencies so anything I get for Christmas gets minutely examined and judged by the bill payer. Which makes for lots of domestic harmony. And at 5 pm today I had to quit pretending I have it all together and call a timeout for my exhausted self to lie down and moan about the worst cold I have had in years. I seriously think I might die. But merry flipping Christmas to me! At least the dear hubben had mercy and took care of the kids bedtime so I could fall down. I swear there is a Jenniffer snapped indent in this bed like a cartoon and I may never be able to climb out. Wish I had brought some snacks and alcohol in with me. Sweet dreams all you suffering momrades. You are not alone.

    1. Oh hey just thought of a ray of sunshine to add. Best Holliday advice I ever got: children have not yet fully developed their motor skills. Tight neat wrapping is hard for them to unwrap. As a mom the kind thing to do is wrap it loosely and with lots of wrinkles so they can tear it easily. I am going to be an awesome mom wrapper this year!

  15. Thank you thank you thank you. I so needed to hear these exact words today. Merry Christmas!

  16. Happy Almost Christmas, Beth! My mother gave us picture perfect Christmases that appeared effortless – puts a lot of pressure on me as an adult trying to live up to that. So…you are actually helping your children avoid perfectionism and reducing the amount of therapy they will have to pay for;) Just do what needs to be done to feed people and give them something to unwrap on Christmas Day and you’re done. xo

  17. Tears in my actual eyes, Beth.

    This was EXACTLY what I needed to read today.

    Thank you.

    And Merry Jingly to you and yours.

  18. It was a tradition in my family for my mother to ruin Christmas by trying to make it perfect. “I just want everyone to be HAPPY!” she would shriek at her sobbing, petulant children and passive-aggressive husband, who would play the enabling martyr until he blew up, then he’d go out and shovel for the 10th time that day just to get a moment’s peace. When people arrived–and people were always arriving since we entertained endlessly–we were all very good at seeming like a happy, functional family enjoying a Hallmark holiday.

    I think ordering pizza should be a new Christmas tradition. The sauce is red, the basil and peppers are green, and the cheese is white: Christmas! Just open a tin of those Danish butter cookies and some almond roca, pour Mommy and Daddy another round, let the kids run themselves into a coma, and HAPPY FREAKIN’ CHRISTMAS!

    Call it “Magi in the Mess”.

    1. By the way, I know someone who fills her hot cup with booze for the Christmas Eve family service at church. I think she’s a genius.

  19. My take is that this season is all about the most powerful, uncreated being coming to Earth to be the son of a teen mom and poop his swaddling diaper so that he could walk with us and eventually pay the price for our sins, so in the spirit of His lowered expectations (hello, Creator of All to “umm, will somebody please change me and then feed me”), I think that the spirit of advent rather than the perfection is where it’s at, you know?

  20. I have been a lurker of your blog for awhile now and I just want to say thank you for you !!! I’m not prepared either I keep thinking one day I will be , you see for me I’m raising my grandson , it’s just he and I . All he wants for Christmas is a family which hurts cause like hay I’m here and look at all the stuff I bought you . At least he gets that family and people are more important then stuff. Again thank you, God Bless and Have a very Merry Christmas !!

    1. “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Your grandson will know this some day. And if he already knows that people matter more than things, you’ve done your job.

      You’re a hero, Kathy.

  21. You are the WISEST woman in Blogland.
    That is all.
    Merry Christmas,
    Bets

  22. Oh, sweet, I believe I am teaching my children how imperfectly human I am,.I am never together. At any time, if someone has caught me looking together in any way, shape or form, I look at them and apologize and try to remember what I usually look like.

    Christmas and holidays in general are hard for me, because it should be about family, for us it’s survival. At least for me. Some day I will figure it out, maybe.

    Last night, I was in the tub with my Lord Peter Wimsey novel, box of jujyfruits and about half an hour of almost quietish…

    much love, my friend, deep breath.

  23. I had a double take at the second paragraph of this Beth – “the bog” in Australia is the toilet!!! Nearly choked on my cheese its lol

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