My Christmas Advice…..

Merry Christmas? More like Manic Christmas!

My best advice this Christmas season? Don’t try and plan any warm fuzzy loving events with all five children the day school ends and finals are over. Foolishly, I planned a trip to hobgood park to see the light display for the Friday evening that school ended. Foolishly.
Here was my dream…..
offspring holding hands –
spontaneously singing Christmas carols (possibly even in harmony) –
caring enough to coordinate outfits incase a photo op arose,
laughing with each other as they discussed special family memories
seizing the moment to tell tom and I how wonderful we are at parenting
randomly hugging each other as love overflowed and Christmas spirit reigned supreme

would you like to know what actually happened????

First of all….yes – daggum it – I SHALL be using names – they should all be called to repentance.

We start the evening with Tom setting the tone… “since I have to pay ten dollars per head for us to experience this special night, each of us will be staying till the park closes or we have counted each and every one of the lights – whichever comes first!” **heavy sigh**

Followed closely on the heels of that announcement, Lindsey starts complaining about being cold. “I hope it’s warmer outside than it is in this house. This is ridiculous – it’s almost abusive how cold you keep the house!” Tom responds with “I can’t pay the heat bill when I have to pay 10 dollars a head for you to see lights!!” So we go thru all the closets and pull out sweaters/jackets/scarves/hats/coats/gloves etc till we have her so layered she looks as big as me! Ha!

Next fiasco is loading into the van. Will they EVER be old enough that they just calmly load in with no arguments about seating or who touches who?????

We’re off ! I decide what we need is some Christmas music and start up my playlist! David archuletta singing The First Noel. Groans from everyone in the back seat. Fine! I switch to my favorite accapella group (Pentatonix) singing Silent Night. More groans. Whatever.

First stop is Racetrac for hot chocolate. I could spend thirty minutes on this trip alone but let me hit the high points…..
“Matt got a large! I didn’t know we could get a large! No one told me we could get a large!” “Lindsey is drinking the flavor shots straight! That’s nasty! Someone tell her to stop it!” “Emma just knocked over the marshmallows! Someone better tell the manager!” “Dad got soda??? I thought we had to get hot chocolate! I didn’t know we could get soda!” “matt gets gum??? No one told me we could get gum! Can I get a candy bar? I don’t like gum. Why is Matt the favorite???” let me just say I came very close to sneaking out to the van and driving off. We’re close enough they can walk home!

Finally we get to Hobgood Park. Fabulous, I think to myself. I have chosen something very exciting and popular. Lots of people here to enjoy it – must be a real hit! Everyone else? “where the crud are we gonna park??? I’ll be too tired by the time we walk to the thing to actually walk thru it! I’m gonna freeze! We have to spend the whole evening in the “elements”??? this thing is being held OUTSIDE? In DECEMBER? Look at the lines!” no way to drive off without them as they are all still in the van at this point. **heavy sigh**

So we get out: (kids thoughts being shared aloud) “How the heck far away did you park? Are we ever gonna even get there? Is there some kind of shuttle we could take? Why didn’t you just use one of the empty handicap spaces?? Might as well have walked from home!! And we’re doing all this trudging thru the horrific cold to get in THAT LINE??” tom reaches for my hand and I think – how romantic! At least SOMEONE is feeling what I had dreamed of….and then he says to me….. “dang woman – can you hurry up already? The kids are almost done with the whole park! Come on!” **heavy sigh**

So we get out: (my quiet moment of contemplation) “The path to the light show is even lit up and festive! How very thoughtful! Look at all the people here feeling the Christmas spirit. How lovely! We aren’t even quite there yet and the lights look stunning! How exciting! We are getting ready to truly enter a winter wonderland!”

This is where things start to actually change. Despite themselves, my children start feeling happy. They start interacting with each other in pleasant ways. They only grumble a wee bit as I load them all up on a sleigh for the first photo op of the night. They don’t grumble at all as I have them stick their heads into elf cut outs for the second of many more photo ops. By the time we hit the “light maze” they have cheerfully divided into teams, several of them holding hands, as they dash off to beat Tom and I. Tom reaches for my hand – and I realize as I look at him – THIS time he has reached out because he really loves me. I hear giggles and realize it’s my own children. Then the family memories part starts as they begin remembering other years, other lights, other times spent together. Lindsey is no longer cold. Megan is no longer crabby. Katie is no longer thinking about her Spanish grade. Matt is no longer too tired to walk another step. Emma is no longer mad that she didn’t get new jammies for PJ day at school. Tom is no longer thinking about how much the evening cost him. And i am near tears as I realize that despite all the pressures of daily life…..i have a wonderful family – and we truly love each other. Merry Christmas after all!!!