Dear Fellow Parents,
I know there are some people that are touched with the holiday spirit in such a way that as December arrives, their yards are transformed into displays of joy, fun, and enough lights to land a small airplane. We have a number of these families in our neighborhood and GeekDad Ken is one of those awesome folks that takes it a step further with light shows set to music (seriously, go check it out here, I envy his neighbors). There has been a decorator’s battle cry this year that 2020 has been miserable enough that this holiday season is the time to go all out. I mean, our HOA even got the management company that enforces our bylaws to widen the window of when it’s okay to have up decorations to help bring out some extra joy this year.
Then there’s us.
We have a growing collection of decent lights. It wasn’t until we moved into this suburb that we lived in a place where it really made sense to do lights (our old house was hidden from the street), so we’re newer at this holiday decorating thing. However, as December came along, it never quite happened this year. The lights are in a jumble in the garage somewhere and the garage exists on a higher plane of chaos that occurs when you need somewhere to put the stuff your kids are outgrowing and many of your usual methods of getting this stuff passed off are shut down because of a pandemic. So it turns into a quest chain where getting to them means taking on the garage first. Of course, that means you have to have enough energy at the end of the day to be able to do that. Quite frankly, managing remote learning for two kids, my writing schedule, my husband’s job, and trying to keep up with our regular household stuff has been exhausting enough this year that by the end of the day, we’re usually pretty wiped. We’re also managing all of the other holiday related present buying, wrapping, indoor decorating, Elf moving, and other activities that are pandemic friendly that by the time dinner comes around we’re like a tablet that’s been running too many apps at once and we just don’t have the energy to tackle the garage or outdoor decorating. The weekends are the time we need to desperately recharge and I’m not going to lie, there’s been a lot of lazy weekend days of PJS, Disney+, and Switch time because we simply just needed it.
I’m pretty sure we’re not the only family in this situation. Maybe you desperately wanted to be the family with the gorgeous light display and cool interior decorations. Maybe you wanted to bake all the cookies and make all the crafts since we’re all home so much extra anyway. Maybe you thought that not attending parties and recitals meant you’d have the time to do other things, but you really only have the energy to find something holiday related on a streaming service only to fall asleep halfway though it. Maybe the only thing you are caught up on is The Mandalorian because a certain small green child with big eyes and ears is carrying your morale through 2020 (it’s also okay if you got behind on The Mandalorian, I mean we had a three episode night to catch up at one point). Maybe your holiday packages are getting out later than usual and are running good odds of arriving after the holiday they’re actually for (those are our packages, I freely own up to it).
I think it’s very easy to get caught up in making a holiday magical and fun that we often forget to make sure that we aren’t burning ourselves out to the point where we can’t enjoy any of it. I know a lot of people, especially parents, who are super guilty of this. The fact that 2020 has been so much craziness only seemed to exacerbate the issue. A lot of people are trying to use the holiday season to make up for a year’s worth of disappointments for their families until they burn out, and since everything is so extra in 2020, you don’t burn out half way. So let’s all agree to just put a quick halt on the holiday edition of parenting guilt this year is causing. Do the holiday things that bring you joy and actually recharge you. Maybe it means actually doing less than you have in other years. Maybe it means adding something new in, but taking other things out. Maybe lighting up your lawn in still the thing you need to do, or maybe leaving the lights in their box this year is what you need to do to keep yourself from burning out this year. It’s okay to be any of these versions, just remember that whatever version you pick should include being kind to yourself and making your sanity a priority.
(the one with no outdoor lights this year, but who did catch up on The Mandalorian by the season finale)