We’re basically 10 days from Christmas, so let’s take quick stock of where we are: Tree? No. White Christmas? Unwatched. Cookies baked? Zero. Gifts purchased? One. Philly lights viewings? Rained out. Christmas cards sent? Haha, now I’m just messing with you.

I actually haven’t sent Christmas cards since my breast cancer six years ago “May This Be Your Breast Year Ever!!” was the tagline — seriously my best work — I’ll never be able to top that one.

My problem with Christmas…(boy that’s quite the opener)…my problem with Christmas is that my real, Big-Girl-Now adult life looks nothing like how I grew up. Yet I continue to measure Family Holiday Cheer Levels by the standards of my youth. Observe:

It’s Saturday, and I’m sledding. I’ve been out for there for hours and am starting to get cold. So I walk across the street to my house, passing snowdrifts higher than my head. I bustle in from the cold, and find Mom sitting at the kitchen table, handwriting Christmas cards. She has a little pot of tea in a teapot (covered by a tea cozy), and has a plate of homemade Christmas cookies and fruitcake. Kenny G is playing on the stereo, but next up (courtesy of the 5-disc CD player my parents splurged on), could be anything from Manaheim Steamroller to Jackson 5’s Christmas album to Barbara Streisand (jinglebell jinglebell jing-jang-bell!!). The Christmas tree is fully decorated, poinsettias are everywhere, and the special Christmas rug has been carefully placed.Christmas-themed tea towels are hanging in the kitchen. Scotti is playing with the créche. The entire house smells like baking and Dad is downstairs in the basement, either starting a fire in the fireplace or puttering around.

Conversely:

I don’t own a tea cozy. I’m confused by the act of physically writing (is it some sort of quaint art form, like cross-stitch?), my kids groan every time I try to play Christmas music and our most reliable December tradition thus far is my meltdown every Dec 20th where I sob, “nothing even feels like Christmas!!!” Mike then marches to the grocery store and drags a tree home, which the boys dutifully help me decorate with the one box of ornaments in the basement (all given to us by my mother who bought an ornament for me every year of my life, carefully labeled and wrapped) only to have us leave the next day for Michigan. We come home Jan 2nd to needles all over our floor.

Ah, holidays.

The good news, I suppose, is that this year we’re leaving on Dec 19th, so perhaps my yearly meltdown can be avoided. No promises.

I think…I think this family needs some new traditions. We did take the kids to Frankford Hall to see Santa, so that’s something. My boys are still a little bitter about the whole thing (“imposter!!”), but Scotti was in town and her littles were thrilled. We’ve managed to squeeze in some ice skating at Dilworth Park, and I know the boys will watch White Christmas with me if I insist (and I’m real good at insisting).

On the expectation chopping block? Christmas cards. I’ll never send another Christmas card again (at least not in this decade), and…if I’m going to go all tough-love on myself…I need to completely give up the idea of Christmas baking (it’s a win if we cook dinner four nights per week). Philly will never look like Marquette, MI in December (think: North Pole, but charming), and my Grandmother’s fruitcake recipe hasn’t been made properly since she died (although I have a sneaking suspicion that her “secret” was doubling the booze).

Hm. Smart woman, that one.

Do I want these leggings? I know, I know. I’m not really a leggings girl. But I came across these ribbed LETT leggings at Verishop and now I can’t stop thinking about them. Especially cozy with cute boots (THESE OMG) and oversized sweater.

Date night pants. We’re in Grand Rapids right now, celebrating Mike’s Mom’s retirement. Jess just strolled on in wearing these faux-leather pants and had me fooled. Super-cute, and look surprisingly real. Jess swears they’re comfy, too.

Like a sparkly NYE cupcake. This frilly little top from J.Crew would be so crazy fun on NYE.

Speaking of NYE tops….if you subscribe to our newsletter, we’re “modeling” (haha mirror selfies) the holiday tops we’ve each had on repeat. Look for ’em in our Sunday night special edition.

Making the move. I’ve been staring (and drooling) over these starburst earrings from Voloshin for over a year. Every time I get dressed up, I realize that they’d be perfect with yet another outfit. And since they’re on sale….done.

Because I’m a queen, obviously. Ref is having a major sale, and I always find myself hitting ‘add to cart’ for the most ridiculous (yet amazing) items. Like this gold gown. (But will probably end up with this comfy little dress or a flirty linen number — like this one — since history has shown I wear them alllll summer.)

Sing, Greta. Greta Thunberg was recently named TIME Magazine’s person of the year. And if you haven’t yet seen her UN climate speech, it’s powerful: “…the biggest danger is not inaction. The real danger is when politicians are making it look like real action is happening when, in fact, almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR.”

Enjoy your weekend, everyone. Someone make some cookies for me. 😉 I’ve gotta get going to this retirement dinner. Can you imagine? Such an exciting new phase of life.

xo,

S

9 COMMENTS

  1. I love that you keep it real- no pretense. Our annual (0-4 year old kid) Christmas cookie baking had devolved into a yelling match, sucking all of the joy and purpose out of the original activity. Now that our kids are 12, 10, and 7, I’ve convinced my husband to skip the baking part and, instead, focus on decorating the cookies with icing, Much less drama and same amount of joy. A win-win. Wishing you and your family a Happy Holidays!

  2. Aah! I totally feel you. I am not feeling Christmas-y at all this year. Not a single decoration to be seen here and I’m not sure when that will happen. Our traditions went kind of wonky this year, too, so that’s not helping either. Also, cards have not been ordered yet and again, not sure when that will happen. Nothing inspirational from me here, just know you’re not alone! Happy holidays!

  3. We purposely cut down on a lot of our holiday stuff this year and just stuck to things that we actually enjoy. For us that means less holiday parties and outings, more family time at home, much less Christmas cards being sent out, and more baking. My introverted self has been much happier. I think your Christmas plans sound perfect for your family. ❤️

  4. I find you only need to do a couple things to make it feel Christmas-y but the trick is figuring out what those things are for you. If you have no energy to make things yourself, a farmers market can provide seasonal treats that someone else made and festive greenery. A candle, a hot drink, and some Xmas music can go a long way. For nostalgia oriented holidays I think our sense of smell and taste are more important and even just boiling some orange peel and cinnamon stick and cloves for the smell can create that atmosphere. I love xmas but always find that all the extra on top of normal busy family life ends up feeling like Too Much but I never want to edit anything from the list either.

  5. I agree with Allison about the smells. Skip the baking and just dump some mulling spices and orange peel in a mini crock pot. Boom. Instant memories. I also like to put pine needle essential oil on a few tissues and tuck them into our fake tree (purely for me, my kids have never had a real tree and don’t know what they’re missing with the smell… or with the needles sticking out of their feet). And I just check in with my kids (5 and 8) each year about what traditions they enjoy. If they’re not into it and I don’t care much about it, it gets booted and we try something new or just relax and do nothing. This is harder with the extended family traditions (and there are many) because I’m not in charge of that situation and saying no comes with a lot more guilt. Still learning to navigate that.

  6. Your Christmas commentary resonates with me COMPLETELY. Christmas is a childhood phenomenon and it’s very, very difficult for me to translate it to adulthood. And I’m 57! All I ever want is to go home to my mom’s house at age 10. Alas. Not possible. I go about the motions, but inside I dread the entire season.

  7. Until recently we traveled on or before Christmas like you and would go through the tree ordeal—either chucking it (and thus having to un-decorate) before leaving or coming home to a dead tree like you say. We got a prelit fake tree a few years ago and that helped!

  8. I feel the SAME! Thank you. I am going to have to give up Xmas cards too. I just cannot get that together. My daughter and I watch Christmas movies (Home Alone, Elf) in the weeks leading up to Xmas, and that is the closest I’ve come to a tradition. I am secretly relieved when the whole thing is over so I can get back the sadness of nostalgia. That said, I love presents!

Leave a Reply