I get sentimental this time of year. I am a mom. I am entitled.
I grew up watching The Waltons. On Christmas Day they chopped wood, cooked a turkey, gave thanks and then they all sat around loving on the grandparents—enjoying their own parents—just one big happy family until they said “Good-night John Boy!”
I don’t know if your family is like mine, but put three grown children and a few spouses in a room at the same time, throw in some grandchildren and a partridge in a pear tree and for some reason World War III can erupt at any moment!
It can be the silliest thing: Something I said… something they said… or even something they did NOT say. It can be “a look.” It can be anything! Yikes!!
This happens most every single Christmas.
You see, we have been a blended family for some 26 years. My Christmas dream for all these 26 years?
Two little hours; 120 minutes; 7,200 seconds.
Two hours when we all get along and love each other Waltons style.
What is it with families? We love each other dearly and we are bonded by blood or marriage. We want the best for each other, but what is it about holidays that causes even the best families a little angst?
And now this week rolls around again! THAT day. Yes, that day—Christmas Day—that is supposed to be filled with joy and peace on earth. Can I find that on my plot of land?
One year I’ll give up my expectations. But not this year. Not yet.
I have to have hope! I have to believe!
So I ask/demand in a snappish tone: Two little hours of small talk and pleasantries. That’s all this mother/stepmother wants.
To finally get it this year, I am going to try something new—preplanning!
I have written my own 12 Guidelines for my Merry Christmas!
They go something like this…
On the 12th day of Christmas I will start the countdown toward family harmony. T minus 288 hours.
On the 11th day of Christmas I will find out what everyone wants for Christmas. Of course I will! I am the mom after all!
On the 10th day of Christmas I try to buy what everyone wants for Christmas – at least within our budget and/or Mastercard limits!
On the 9th day of Christmas I will start trying to coordinate everyone’s schedules so they only have to be all together for two short hours during the entire holidays. I don’t think the G8 Conference of world leaders is any harder! Factoring in parents, grandparents, husband’s side, wife’s side…. It’s a logistical nightmare every year!
On the 8th day of Christmas I will start practicing using my soft words—my indoor voice. I will breathe and I will find a new Christmas mantra for the year. I am opting for The Little Drummer Boy’s “Pa Rum Pa Pa Pum” this year. And I will also read my daily devotion in The Book of Calm.
On the 7th day of Christmas I will make an honest attempt to spend quality time one-on-one with each family member so no one feels slighted or appears to be the TFO (The Favored One). Baking with some, movies with others… A little one-on-one time with Maw-Maw surely will make everyone feel special (kinder), won’t it?
On the 6th day of Christmas I will start cooking—all the favorite family recipes—because my grandmother’s cookies are after all good for the soul. Surely the high we will get from chocolate chips can calm the roughest seas.
On the 5th day of Christmas I start to enroll my husband in my mission. We, the more mature adults, must remain calm at all times. This actually might take a day and a half because he looks at the grown kids through rose colored glasses and always expects the best, so when the worst comes, he reacts with shock and angst! Managing his expectations/mood is probably going to be my hardest task of the week.
On the 4th day of Christmas I will water down the alcohol that will be served during those two hours as I have learned that family harmony and alcohol do not mix. A tipsy Aunt Lullabelle really does not need a potent Mimosa or she will start “sharing” her opinions—political, religious and assorted others—with unsuspecting loved ones. It is never pretty.
On the 3rd day of Christmas I will set the table/stage. I will make our home exude love, feel warm and fuzzy and smell festive, hoping against hope that the mood will spark harmony and peace on our little part of the earth.
On the 2nd day of Christmas I will pray the Serenity Prayer hourly—accept the things I cannot change (them), change the things I can (my attitude and my words) and the wisdom to know the difference (that’s the rub!)
Then on the 1st day of Christmas, I will smile a lot, be thankful for all my blessings this year, remember the reason for this season, let go of expectations, and I will use my soft words and cling to the hope that I will get the one gift I long for every year: two peaceful harmonious hours with the people I love the most in this world!
A mom can dream, can’t she?
My hope is your dreams come true for you this Christmas, too.