As Christmas approaches faster than ever this year, I am feeling more and more anxiety, stress, guilt and almost ripped off. I decided a couple of days ago to really dig deep into my soul and ask myself, why am I feeling so much angst this year?  

Anyone else feeling like a Christmas failure this year? 

This is the first year Silver Snow, our elf isn’t hiding around the house.  Yes, my daughter is 16, but we still had the elf hide each year to get us in the Christmas spirit.  I failed at that.  We just brought her out last weekend and I haven’t moved her since. 

I have a life-sized Advent Elf, where I would put a treat or mini gift in her daily pocket on her dress everyday, I have missed more days then remembered so far. 

Money is tight, so no fun gifts and the magic is gone since Santa doesn’t come after you are 13 in our house. 

I was getting more and more depressed and exhausted until yesterday morning, when I woke up and gave myself a “coming to Jesus” talk.  Seriously sister, get your shit together, I told myself.  I am in charge of my feelings, I am in charge of what I do or don’t do.  No more being a victim, or feeling out of control.  I am not being a good support system for my kiddo or myself. 

I was in Walgreens with Ashlynd the other night picking up a photo project we made for her friends for Christmas and those 99-cent Advent calendars with chocolate were by the register.  I told her, that is what me and my brother and sister had growing up.  We only had one, so we only got a chocolate every third day and we had to switch who went first each year.  All three of us had to gather around the thing and watch each person open the door and read the little note behind the door and then watch them eat the chocolate.  But you know what?  It is one of my favorite memories.  

I started remembering my Christmas’ growing up and I realized that all my cherished memories were not gifts, or things, but making Magic Cookie Bars and Spritz cookies with my mom and sister and Grams.  Our caroling parties we had each year. The excitement the night before Christmas because no matter  how old you are you still believe in the magic of Christmas.  Looking up in the sky for a plane with a red blinking light and “seeing” Rudolph leading the sleigh. The smell of Carne Vinha d’Alhos cooking in the morning (a Portugues pork dish we have every single Christmas morning and still do). Having Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve then staying awake to go to midnight Mass and having friends stop by for a snack or a drink.  My uncle read the Polar Express every Christmas Eve while we all sat around in the living room. These are the things I remember and cherish.

So this year, it is late, but not too late.  I got up early yesterday and baked a few batches of cookies listening to the playlist I made for last year’s Christmas party.  I wrapped gifts. Silver Snow moved to another location (we never did anything crazy with her, just moved her around the house like hide and seek). I made a thermos of hot water and put out tea, cocoa and cider for the delivery drivers.  I have snacks and drinks out for them all year long, but I thought a warm drink might be appreciated. 

I decided, even though we can’t have our annual Christmas party like normal, we can still have a firepit and if someone wants to come over and have a drink and hang out and possibly sing a carol or two by the fire, come on over!  We might even have an outdoor movie if the weather permits.

We will watch some Christmas movies with popcorn and cookies and hot cider and walk around the neighborhood all bundled up and check out Christmas lights.  We will buy dinner from a small restaurant and put money in the salvation army bucket. (One of my most cherished memories of Ashlynd is when she was about 6 or 7 she went caroling around our neighborhood by herself and collected money for the Salvation Army and then proudly dropped off her collection to the man at the store.)

I finally remembered what the magic of Christmas was and realized Ashlynd isn’t going to remember what the heck she got for Christmas this year, years from now.  But she will remember if it was the year her mom gave up and didn’t do anything. 

This year is so stinkin challenging in so many ways, but I am accepting this challenge and determined to make the last two weeks fun, festive and memorable in a good way.  

To all you Mamas out there struggling or feeling the pressure of expectations, remember your memories of Christmas past.  It was the simple, none material things that you will remember.  Give yourself a hug, have a glass of Christmas cheer, (whatever that means to you), and awaken that Christmas Spirit in your heart. 

Have a Merry Christmas and Cheers to New Year!

Krista Furtney
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