We took the kids to look at Christmas lights tonight. Me, my sister, our husbands and our children. It was gonna be GREAT. I imagined a quiet stroll down Peacock Lane and pictures in front of the Grinch house. Yeah. It didn’t exactly go down like that.
I don’t know why, either. I used to go to Peacock lane with my grandparents when I was a kid. I remember it as nothing less than perfect.
I won’t lie to you. There was some sibling bickering in the car on the way there. A certain four-year old was bothering her brothers by singing Christmas carols … off key. Someone ate someone else’s candy cane. On and on it went. Someone was cold. Someone was hungry. Someone had to go potty.
The street we love to visit was crowded… BUT. “We are MAKING MEMORIES!!” I told them—and so out we all piled. A few times along the way, we had to stop and take a head count. It wasn’t relaxing. Two of the kids told me they would rather be home. (Yeah. And I would rather be “here” with you, listening to you bicker when I could be home taking a well-deserved hot shower?) But I digress.
Here’s the reason I’m telling you the WAY IT IS. This parenting thing you’re doing—it’s not going to be easy. I’ve been at it now for going on 24 years. In my 24 years of parenting, I can testify to the fact that there are precious few “picture perfect” moments of family life. As moms, we live and breathe for those moments. Someone please. Just tell us that it’s not for nothing. We just want to know that it’s working, this investment of time, love and energy we’re making.
We wonder why we’re trying so hard. Is all this fuss really worth it? Why are we making sugar cookies and watching “Miracle on 34th Street” for the fifteenth time? The kids don’t seem to appreciate it. Even my husband is doubting whether or not anyone cares.
Is it that important?
I’m here to tell you that it is. One day, your children will appreciate the fact that you made them stand in front of that wooden Grinch cutout for a family picture. Not too long from now, they’ll understand the sacrifice you made so that they could have a few traditions to share with their own families. Blink, and your teens will be young adults who will cherish those pictures that they argued with you about taking. I told myself that again tonight.
We need to let go of this idea that things have to be like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens layout. Your turkey doesn’t have to turn out just right and you don’t have to have a hundred presents under the tree. Your kids don’t need a bunch of presents that they won’t remember in a month and that you can’t afford—but they do need YOU.
Christmas comes just once a year. I say “make a fuss.” It’s the birth of our Savior. It’s worth the fuss. It’s a chance to get out from under our daily routine and be thankful. It’s a chance to give back.
In this Internet age, this age of screen time and Facebook, Christmas offers us a chance to step away. We can step away, look at some Christmas lights, watch a few old movies and while we’re doing it, we can assess where we’re going and what we’re sowing.
We are sowing, after all.
So yes. The fuss is worth it. You’re trying so hard because of love. Love builds something. Love imagines a memory five years from now and sees it as precious in the moment, too. Love says, “This matters.”
Real Christmas memories are made on nights like tonight.
Or at least, I keep telling myself that—no, my grown children remind me of what I need to know to keep going… the little ones, the tweens, the teens… they will get it.
Come to think of it, I have a hunch it was hard on my grandparents when they took us to see the lights on Peacock Lane. It’s just that I don’t remember the fuss. I only remember the feel of my hand in my grandmother’s gloves. I remember Grandpa telling me how hard it must be for Santa to get all the way up to some of those chimneys. I remember hot chocolate.
I bet we argued. I bet we spilled our hot chocolate. I bet my grandparents fell into bed and wondered if it was worth it.
So, when I think about them, yes. I believe it’s true.
The fuss—is worth it.
Merry Christmas, busy mom.