As a kid, I knew my Christmases didn’t look like the ones in the movies. Our house was smaller. Our family was broken and spread out. And our budget was definitely smaller. (Who can afford to fly their entire family across the country a la Home Alone?)
It never bothered me, though. If anything, I thought I had it better than other kids. I effectively got three Christmases. Christmas Eve at my dad’s, Christmas Day at mom’s, and then a few days after Christmas we’d make the trek to my mother’s side of the family and have our third and final Christmas before the New Year came. It was great! So many people, and yeah, plenty of presents. It just didn’t look like a Christmas movie Christmas.
By the time I was nine years old, both of my older brothers were out of the house. They came home for a lot of Christmases after that, but as years went on, their holiday visits became less predictable. I’d also ceased communications with my father, and our extended family visits became less frequent. And then, about 6 years ago, it was just mom and me on Christmas morning.
It was a lovely morning, but it felt like there were several missing pieces.
A few years into the Mommy & Me Christmases, I decided to take matters into my own hands. My mother had put together over 40 Christmases for the boys and me, so the least I could do was cook a couple meals and plan a few crafts.
But that didn’t feel quite right either. I didn’t understand it. I was checking all of the Christmas boxes:
Christmas Eve dinner
Christmas Eve mass
Christmas morning breakfast
plenty of packages for mom to open
our favorite Christmas album on repeat
I still felt a heavy weight on my heart.
I wish I could say it was a crystal clear Hallmark movie moment when I realized it, but that’s just not how it went. It was more of a slow awakening.
When I took the reigns of the holiday, I was doing everything I could to make ours look like the Christmases in Christmas movies.
But our Christmas has never looked like those! Not even the happiest of our holidays resembled the ones in the movies, so why would I try to force it to?
Our Christmas is quiet and messy. It’s silly and disjointed. It’s unpredictable, different from year to year. It’s relaxed and loose. It’s cozy and comforting. Our traditions might not look like the ones in the movies, but we do have them. And this year, instead of trying to make our Christmas something it’s not, I’m going to enjoy what it IS.