UpsideDownside

Every year, the end of November hits and the holidays officially begin. I usually power through Thanksgiving, since all it seems to entail is my kids refusing to eat the cornucopia of delicious traditional foods of our forefathers. After my kids’ dinner of Snickers salad and cranberry sauce, I start humming Christmas carols with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head (what are those, anyway?!)

I set my sights high. We are going to make so many fantastic memories! It will be such a joyful season filled with anticipation and tradition. Without fail, by the first week in December, I’m filled with tempered expectations and soul crushing self doubt. There is no way I will do all the things on my Christmas list.

We try to make Christmas cookies and someone drops eggs in the floor. (It wasn’t me.) We cut down a lovely Christmas tree for our living room…that I can’t wait to take down since my children un-decorate it multiple times throughout the day. There. Are. Needles. Everywhere. We buy Christmas presents for the kids who have loads of toys, but still manage to fight over who gets to play with the bathroom hand towels. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? I really do want to make it special for my kids, but so often the joy is stripped away by the rigors of having young children. In my quest to remain an optimistic pessimist, I’ve created a list of all the glorious Holiday festivities and both their upsides and downsides. You’re welcome.

To avoid confusion, and due to a lack of creativity, we’ll call this game “upsidedownside.” Let’s begin.

Christmas decorations
Upside: I love decorating for Christmas. How great to be able to share in this with my kids! We get to cut down a tree together, hang the stockings, and put up wreaths.
Downside: Everyone’s feet are cold while we are at the tree farm. My kids are regularly covered in sap due to their inability to STOP TOUCHING THE TREE. The stockings, while hung by the chimney with care, are pulled down at least a dozen times. Now my tree is gated off and my decor is themed “Christmas in Alcatraz.”

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New presents
Upside: (temporarily) happy children who play for (brief) periods of time without requiring parental intervention.
Downside: finding places for all the new toys to be stored. Or not, since you’re the only one who picks them up anyway. and when you don’t, you step on them in the middle of the night. So, basically, you just bought yourself a bunch of new booby traps and ankle sprains.

Holiday Treats
Upside: You’re creating memories and traditions. How exciting is it to see your children’s faces when they try fudge for the first time, letting them savor a chocolate Santa, or giving them a candy cane to enjoy?! If you’re extra brave, you might be making and eating gingerbread houses with your littles. It all sounds like a spread in Martha Stewart Living.
Downside: This is a long list. First on the list is, of course, the fact that you’ve just given your kids treats. You enjoy that for the next hour, while they run around like hyenas. Then, when the inevitable crash happens, you get you clean up the sobbing, wailing, inconsolable puddles of children writhing around on your floor. Second, is stickiness. You can only barely convince your guests that all the spots, smears and handprints of various colored sugars covering your walls and furniture are actually abstract art. I’ll spare you the rest of this exhaustive list of downsides related to funneling sugar into your kids, but one of them rhymes with “diabetes.”

Family time
Upside: Often the only time elderly family members or relatives who live far away get to traveling is over the holidays. It’s great to spend quality time with those close to you.
Downside: Between my sisters and myself we have eight kids. The oldest is four, and the noise level is deafening. My ears ring for days after we are all “reunited.” Also, when it comes to some family members there is only so much “togetherness” one can take. AmIRight?!

We all survived. We’re riding the Christmas “upsides” and brushing over the “downsides.” We didn’t make and decorate cut outs and I had to vacuum the living room twice daily. There’s always next year, right?

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