In the past few days, I’ve been remembering my day school education. Specifically, those (usually female) teachers who told us of the tradition that women relax while the candles are burning each night. And while I sort of pretend to maybe relax, I completely and totally fail. It is the perfect time to make your latkes, to decorate the donuts, to set the table. It seems completely incongruous with a mother’s way of scheduling.
I like to think of that as analogous of holiday celebrating in general. Well-intentioned but mostly unattainable. I am the first to admit that I take my holidays Very Seriously. I love it. I love the recipes. I love the company. I love my family. I love the crafts. But I have also learned that just because I love it doesn’t mean it goes smoothly.
There will be over-tired children on the night of a dinner party. Gifts from well-intentioned grandparents that my 6 year-old vociferously hates. Art projects that looked fabulous at the store but are ignored by my usually crafty-kids. Recipes that look great in the cookbook but not great on the plate. And it is all OK.
After many holidays I think I’ve come up with a fool-proof plan. It goes something like this: Set Realistic Expectations and then lower the bar some more. There is no way to anticipate all the crazy that comes along with extended family, late nights, sugar highs and toys. So, if everyone leaves smiling and my kids are overtired, well fed and ready for bed, I’m happy. In fact, I’m thrilled. Holidays are full of pressure and it is sometimes easy to lose sight on what the holiday is about. This holiday I’ll be grateful for my family, my friends and some good food – everything else is icing on the cake.
What about you? What are your tips for surviving the holidays?