Confession Of A Maternal Humbug
This season defeats me.
My mother never liked Christmas, though she made a valiant effort to hide that fact. She decorated the house and she made a dazzling array of cakes and candy. But her heart wasn't in it. When I was a young child, I didn't and couldn't realize that of course. But as I got older, I knew. It wasn't something that was articulated or even fully cemented in my childish mind. It was just an awareness that something was amiss. But I didn't give it enough thought to ruin my enjoyment of the season. Kids are just wired that way.
But I understand now.
Like my mother, I just don't embrace Christmas with the same enthusiasm that others do.
Maybe because I see it as just one more glaring example of how I fall short of the ideal when it comes to being a model parent. I don't bake cookies. I don't make candy. I don't do cutesy crafts. I decorate, grudgingly, but I put it off until my kids are afraid Christmas will pass us by altogether.
Why? I really don't know, but I think it's resentment.
Resentment that all of this is on my head. More work, more worry, more stress...all piled on me. Nobody blames the Dad if there aren't Christmas cookies. Nobody blames the Dad if Christmas cards are late. Nobody blames the Dads if the children don't have matching outfits for the family portrait. Nobody blames the Dad if the teachers' gifts are lame, or the class party is a flop.
Nobody blames the Dad for anything.
I'm supposed to make all this happen. I'm supposed to make wonderful and cherished Christmas memories for my children. I alone am responsible for the miracles wrought and Joy to the World and Good freaking Will Toward Men.
It's been this way for like, always, I realize now. The women make it happen and everyone else reaps the benefit of her hard work. They enjoy the fruits of her labor with single minded enthusiasm. It's EASY to be jolly when someone else is doing all the work.
Hell, even I could be jolly if I had a full household staff to do all the drugework, and then serve me something hot and frothy while I enjoy the twinkling lights and the festively decked halls.
I guess some Moms find it rewarding to be the engineer of carefully constructed Christmas cheer.
I find that it pisses me off.
And I suppose yuletide apathy is my way of rebelling against the onslaught of expectation.
Perhaps it would be easier if there were some snow. All I see here is the dead landscape, bleak and brown. For a gal who grew up in Wisconsin, Christmas south of the Mason Dixon is a little bit...incongruous.
You know what always cheers me up though? Little House on the Prairie. You know, that one where Laura sells Bunny to buy Ma a stove. Pa wants to buy the same stove, but Laura already bought the only one in Mr. Oleson's store? And then Ma and Mary make Pa a shirt out of the same fabric? So Ma pretends that she didn't get anything for Pa. She surreptitiously pushes he package underneath the Christmas tree skirt. And then...and THEN...Pa makes Laura a saddle for the horse she sold to Nellie. And Ma tries to stop her and Charles says, "It's her horse, Caroline. She has the right." and then Caroline says, "But she LOVES that horse!" and then Charles says, "But she loves YOU more."
Sweet weeping Jesus. Now that's what the fuck Christmas is all about.
Not who has the brightest lights or whose Mom makes the most cookies or who got the teacher the most expensive gift.
My kids are older now. They see. I know they do. I know I can't fake or hide it anymore. I don't want them to think that I resent them. Because I don't. I would buy them the world if I could. I just don't want to decorate it or bake it cookies.
Is that so wrong?
I don't know. Maybe I just need to quit worrying and do it my way and just be okay with that. Maybe "enough" is just what I make it. And maybe...maybe I should just accept that Christmas isn't for me. Once, I reaped the benefit of all my mother's work and worry and that was my time.
I find it immeasurably sad that I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have then.
Well, whatever. I am who I am. Christmas at our house is what it is. It will have to be good enough.
Any of you Christmas freaks want to come decorate my house and bake my kids some cookies?
I'll make it worth your while (wink).