The switch starts with the Christmas Cards. I’m almost sure of it.
It’s like a little voice gets in moms’ head that says, “the key to a perfect holiday seasons start with the holiday photo… make the kids look good and nail this photo. then it’s smooth sailing from here on out.“
So every year my mom would drop the announcement on us like a bomb when we were least expecting it and in no position to flee. “Okay, we’re taking Christmas card photos tonight. Right now. In front of the tree. Now.” It always seemed so random, we thought. But looking back it wasn’t random at all, Holiday Mom knew exactly what she was doing.
She’d hustle us into the living room while throwing us clean clothes to put on that matched. We’d whine and cry, especially when she made us doing something gross like put our arms around each other or something.
But she didn’t bat an eye because she was getting her holiday photo, damn it. Holiday Moms are like machines. Their shear determination and drive is actually quite impressive.
She’d wait a week to get her photos back only to see this was her best option. What a disappointment that must have been. But there was no time to dwell, decorations must be hung and lights must be strung.
For the next week or so, my mom would pull out 100 + storage tubs from the basement full of holiday decor. It was like our basement was a clown car, just when we thought there couldn’t possibly be room for another box, she’d come up the stairs with ten balancing on her head.
She never told us how she did this either, it was all part of the magic I think.
My mom would spend the next 3-4 days decorating the house. Wrapping garland on the banister, trees in every room, Santas in every corner, not a space was left untouched. She’d blast Christmas music while she decorated the entire week. I always thought it was to enhance the moment, but now I can’t help but wonder if it was to drown out my dad bitching about the fact holiday crap was everywhere. Literally everywhere.
“I can’t even get to my weights because there’s wreaths all over my workout room! I want this stuff outta the basement now.”
Classic dad. My mom would just nod her head like she was listening to him. But she wasn’t. She was in holiday mode. She wasn’t listening to anyone but that little voice in her head whispering,
“This is our year, Sandy. This is the year we make it the best Christmas EVER. ever. ever. ever.“
She’d just smile and nod her head and keep stringing garland.
Holiday Mom is fun. But also a little frightening.
She wants us to admire her work, but not touch it. She doesn’t want help decorating, but damn it you better ask if she does. And whatever you do, do not leave something in her way or you will not see it until next December- and even that’s not a guarantee.
After the decorations, it’s the baking, and the last minute shopping, and the wrapping, and making relish trays, and pickles rolled in cream cheese and meat. And more last minute shopping, and 79 trips to the grocery store because damn it my dad forgot the cranberries! How does he always forget the cranberries?!
And it’s all in preparation of the big Christmas Eve party.
The grand finale, if you will. Holiday Mom suddenly goes into 4.0 mode and shit gets real.
She’s up before dawn because her mind is racing with a to-do list 13 pages long. And if she doesn’t keep her focus, it only takes one little stain to send her all over town in search of the perfect creme and gold table cloth. If the bare table shows Christmas will be RUINED.
Beds must be made! Because everyone’s coats will go in your room, on your bed! God forbid they stay downstairs on the couch like we’re a bunch of animals!
Toilets clean. From 2 p.m. on there is absolutely no pooping in the downstairs bathroom. Jordan, we’re talking to you here!
Table leaves must be put into table. NOW, people. Move, move, move. If you pinch your fingers, suck it up. You’ve got 9 more.
Wipe down the fridge! We must have zero traces of food in here.
Christmas China must be set. This is literally the China’s one day to shine.
Garbage bins empty! No garbage in this house tonight. What do you want people to think we’re a garbage family?
No shoes by the door! NO MORE SHOES. EVER.
Turn on all 73 Christmas trees in the house. Tonight is the night, do not fail me now lights.
Rugs straightened! Carpet vacuumed. Candles burning. James Taylor holiday music playing. Window candles all turned on!
And if you eat any of the appetizers before guests arrive, so help you God. And no using the fancy napkins. Or hand towels in the bathroom.
And somehow in between seeing the first car pull up and hearing the doorbell ring, my mom would manage to shower, blow dry, and get completely ready in less than 30 seconds.
Holiday Mom is magic. She really is.
Because when it’s all said and done, another great Christmas is in the books thanks to Holiday Mom. And her greatest gift of all, is that she passes the tradition on to her children, whether you want it or not.
Merry Christmas, Holiday Moms. Take a breather and relax for a moment.