Before I became a mom, Christmas consisted of a handful of full-day marathon shopping trips right up until a few days before Christmas. After I was done shopping, I would stay up late on Christmas Eve drinking spiked hot cocoa and wrapping presents. (Okay, that last part still happens today, too.)
But before kids, it all felt a lot less stressful. The most significant change is that the holiday season didn’t begin for me until all the leftover turkey was eaten and I had turned the calendar to the last month of the year. But Christmas just isn’t the same when you’re a mom.
I learned this quickly my very first Christmas as a mom. My first baby was due mid-October. It never once occurred to me during the nine plus months that I was pregnant that there would be any issues with getting the Christmas shopping done. But my baby was nursing every other hour, I was learning the true definition of sleep deprivation and it was challenging to find time to shower. Going Christmas shopping was certainly low on the priority list. Thankfully, we all agreed on a light Christmas that year and my husband was able to do the majority of my shopping. And I knew Christmas would never be the same as a mom but…
I promised myself next year would be easier.
That next Christmas my baby was 13 months old. She was still nursing and napping twice a day and it was very difficult to find a decent stretch of time to go shopping between her frequent meals and sleeping. My time in the evenings and on weekends was extremely limited. That week of Christmas that year we also got some wonderful news. I was pregnant with our second child…
That’s the moment I knew Christmas as a mom was never, ever going to get easier.
I bought my first Christmas present in February that next year. Gone were the days of waiting until December to start my Christmas shopping. If I see something that I think someone may like or find an item on sale then I go ahead and make the purchase. No need to wait at this point. And the differences were not just about the Christmas shopping.
When I was a child, my family always went to a Christmas tree farm and cut down our tree. My husband and I decided to start this tradition again once we had our own family. For three years, we went to the farm to cut our tree down the first weekend in December. Each year, we left disappointed because there were no suitable trees left. This year, for the first time ever, we went to the farm the weekend after Thanksgiving and got our tree. We had all the other decorations up that weekend as well, well before we had finished the Thanksgiving leftovers.
I have learned to embrace this new way of doing Christmas as a mom. My daughter loves to sing about this being her favorite time of the year. So why not extend that time a little longer? And what’s not to love? We get to go shopping and choose gifts for others that make them happy. We get to have the good feelings that come with giving charitable donations. The house is decorated with a live tree that will have all kinds of new toys under it on Christmas morning. The candy dishes and cookie jars are filled with delightful treats. The neighborhood is covered in beautiful lights and there are all kinds of fun activities to do. And we get to have a visit with a friendly, old man and tell him what toys we really want. It really is a wonderful and exciting time of year.
Despite all of the preparation I do before December, there is still so much to do in the weeks right before Christmas. All of the holiday stress cannot be eliminated. There are still Christmas gifts for teachers, cookies to be baked, hand-made crafts that the kids make for their grandparents and other family. And the wrapping. All of the wrapping.
So you may be like me now and get things started in February or you may be out reading this in the check-out line on Christmas Eve. The one thing about Christmas that is the same now as before I was a mom is that it all does still get done. No matter how stressful it is. No matter how impossible it seems. No matter what. All these things somehow, magically, get done. It just goes to show, no matter how old we are, Christmastime is most definitely magical.
Christmas just isn’t the same now that I’m a mom. It is so much more special.
A version of this post originally appeared at Don’t Lick Your Sister