Maria Rushe reminds us that a real family Christmas is miles from the picture-perfect scenes we see on social media.
I LOVE it! I love everything about it. I love the sparkle, the sounds, the smells, the smiles. I love the kindness. I love how it brings out the best in so many people.
But what I don’t love, is the pressure placed on us by the interweb to create magical, Christmas card worthy Hallmark moments. It’s started already; Instagranny and Bookface are full of pictures of beautiful trees and perfect living rooms. None of us posted the mess of them being put up though did we!? Myself included. Of course not. We want to show the world our best smile don’t we? We want to give the general idea that we’ve got our sh*t together.
MY Christmas Eve shall be fablis. Here’s how it shall look if I post it online.
Some last minute, calm and fun shopping in town, a family breakfast with my siblings and all of our minions, a quick visit to the grandparents’ homes and then home, where Mammy will wear her apron and help the girls make homemade cookies for Santa, create perfect Belgian hot chocolate for them before snuggling up to watch a movie. Then, I prep all of the veg etc for Christmas dinner. Then, as Daddy bathes the girls and gets them ready for bedtime, Mammy shall pour a little drop of mulled wine and begin creating the turkey. We shall have some hearty homemade soup for tea and mammy shall double check her lists to ensure that all is done. In a whirlwind of excitement, the girls shall leave out their fablis homemade cookies, a carrot and some milk for Santa. They’ll sprinkle reindeer food on the steps and go to bed, happy and excited.
Then, Daddy shall pop a bottle of bubbles, we’ll finish wrapping presents and then we’ll cozy up on the sofa and wait for Santa.
The last minute shopping will not be calm and fun, unless you have someone to sit in the car with minions while you pop in and out of shops.
Family breakfast WILL be fun, but it will most likely also be filled with nyaming and crying, with things like “She’s sitting on meeee”, “He got more berries” and “Stop that nonsense now!”. The adults will eat breakfast, pretending to have jovial conversation, but really just throwing random and disconnected statements at each other between bouncing the kids.
Visiting – Yes, but the over-excited and wound up kiddies will be needing a sleep by then and there is a high chance of tantrums forecast once a loving and caring Grandparent enters the room. Add sugar before wrestling kids into car. Perfect!
Bake cookies: Buy a box of cookie mix. Add an egg and there you go. Mary Poppins indeed.
Hot chocolate: Not Belgian. Not fancy. Straight from the coffee machine pods. Plop in the marshmallows and she’s happy out.
Movie: In my head it’s Miracle on 34th Street, in reality it’ll be ELF again for 38 minutes before Ben and Holly return. And it’ll be grand, because Mammy will realistically be watching it from the kitchen.
Homemade soup: HAHAHAHAHA! I’m not that organised. I go to Mum’s on Christmas Eve and steal a lunchbox full of hers. No point in both of us making it, is there?
Mulled wine: Buy a jar or packet. Slosh in some cheap wine and orange juice. Done. (Oh, and if you don’t like mulled wine, why the heck are you making it?)
Prepping dinner: This I DO do. Not because I’m Mary Poppins, but because the only thing any Mammy needs to be peeling on Christmas Day is the paper off presents (or the foil of my Chocolate Orange!) PS. Did you know you can buy PRE-PEELED SPUDS!? Go for it Mammy. It’s Christmas after all!
Lists: Once you’re home, scrap the lists. Whatever you haven’t bought by then, doesn’t need bought. I will do a last To Do list, just to remind me of what needs done before I can sit on my backside for a few glasses of grapes later. TIP: Write some stuff you’ve already done so you’ll feel better that there are a few lines through it already.
Bedtime: Yes it will be exciting, but it will also be frantic with two children who can’t control their highly stimulated and sugar induced emotion, and full of threats of “If you’re not sleeping, Santa won’t come”. Eventually, Mini-Me will succumb to sleep, but them going straight to bed and nodding off instantly is as possible as me getting a Chanel coat. Then you get to start to tidy and clean and do all the other stuff that needs doing, just like every other day. And who will notice or care if your sitting room looks perfect?
Presents: If you don’t like wrapping stuff, don’t. Keep it simple. You don’t need fancy curled ribbons. They do not need to be Pinterest worthy. Tell people the kids wrapped them, or better still, buy Christmas gift bags. Sorted. Santa doesn’t have time to wrap presents in my mind. Santa has better things to do.
Waiting for Santa? Yeah. After 2 hours of tiptoeing about the place, forgetting where things are and trying not to wake the kids with rustling bags, as you try not to KILL each other! Then you finally sit down to “relax” before realising that the kids will be up in, oh… approximately 4 hours!
Christmas will come and go. It is magical and wonderful, but it is also what you make it. I just HOPE my Christmas is exactly as I have described, because cheats and realities and all, it’s MY perfect. No one else’s.
The Christmas inspector is not going to visit on Christmas morning to check if your home in Hallmark worthy. NO ONE actually cares that you wrap EVERY SINGLE ONE of the presents. No one cares what your kids get from Santa. No one cares if you have your hair brushed. No one cares if you’re all in matching PJs. And the only person whose opinion matters on these things, is you.
While we like to see people we like and care about looking happy on Christmas morning, remember that you are under NO obligation to post pics or share ANYTHING on social media. You are also under no obligation to even look at other people’s photographs on social media.
If looking at other’s “perfect Christmas” makes you feel crappy, put down the device and look at what’s in front of you.
Chances are, your perfect Christmas is right there in front of you…in the real world. Chaos and all.