Motherhood. Christmas. Connecticut

December 17, 2012

It has occurred to me that I am woefully lacking in a few important mothering/house-wifery attributes.

This sad thought came to me recently as I was perusing a few blogs of a few friends.  Over and over I read about how these various wonder women have been baking dozens of batches of cookies with their families, trading out their festive fall decorations for their splendid Christmas decor, and creating fabulous centerpieces using just three pine cones, a graham cracker and a glue gun.

And then I thought about how my house looks in June . . .


and  I thought about how my house looks in December.  (Just one week before Christmas.)


Did you notice much difference?  Did you notice a plethora of Christmas décor bursting out everywhere?

Nope.  Me either.  

June or December—it’s all the same at our house!  (Except for the addition of a tree which we will put up tonight.)

And guess how many batches of cookies Sarah and I have baked together in filial, festive, fellowship during this Christmas season?

The answer is none.  One big colossal zero.  Not one single cookie.  Not one single batch.

After giving this whole matter some thought, I started feeling bad about all the “should do’s” that I should be doing but am not.  I started thinking about all the “haven’t dones” that I haven’t been doing and should have. I started convincing myself that I was a failure for not transforming our home into a breathtaking wonderland and lining up neat rows of fudge and cookies and gingerbread houses across our counter tops.

And then I started to wonder.  Is my lackadaisical lack of holiday homemaking enthusiasm psychologically damaging my poor daughter?  Will she end up in a therapist’s office in ten years, in tears, saying,  “My mom never put up many Christmas decorations and she and I rarely if ever baked any Christmas cookies together.  And I just feel so sad and cheated because all those things were never a part of my life.”

After thinking about this way too long, it got to the point where I had to discuss it with someone.  And so as Sarah and I were chatting a few minutes after lunch yesterday, I blurted it all out to her. I blurted out my maternal worries and woes and my concerns that I don’t do all the things with her (and for her) that all the other mothers do and that I feel really guilty about it.

Once I had made my speech, I watched Sarah carefully for signs that she agreed with my horrific unmotherliness and was diligently searching for the right words to say that would make me feel a little better but still let me know, in no  uncertain terms, that I had grievously fallen down on my job during the Christmas season. 

Instead, Sarah drew on her seventeen years of hard-won wisdom, looked at me lovingly and said, “But Mom, it’s okay.  It’s okay that we don’t have the same traditions that other people have and that we don’t do the same Christmas stuff.  We have our own traditions and that’s what really matters.  I don’t mind that you don’t decorate the house or bake dozens of cookies because I know that we have our own special ways of celebrating together and they don’t have to look like everyone else’s ways.”

And so with the permission of my lovely and loving  (and exceedingly wise) daughter I have stopped telling myself about all the things I should be doing in order to be a good mom. It doesn’t mean I love my family any less than the inveterate cookie baker; it just means that I celebrate differently and express my love differently.

So.  If you are like me and aren’t up to your neck in flour and cookie cutters and gorgeous arrangements of mistletoe on your fireplace, it’s okay.  You have your own way of celebrating the season and it might not look like someone else’s way.   And although I greatly admire my cookie baking, decorating friends, I can be at peace with the fact that I don’t have to do all that to be merry at Christmas.  (Although if any of them would like to give me a cookie or two from their dozens, I wouldn’t mind.)

How about you? What traditions did you have growing up?  Or what traditions did you skip growing up? What  traditions do you have (or skip over) now?  


As I’m writing on the subject of motherhood this morning, I want to take a moment to remember the mothers (and fathers) in Connecticut who have lost their precious children to the bullets of a troubled young man. These are mothers who will never again celebrate another Christmas with their children, the way I have been blessed to celebrate so many with Nathan and Sarah.

On our church sign this past weekend we put, “Connecticut, we weep with you.”  

And we do. All of us weep, even as we send our prayers and compassion to that suffering town and its brokenhearted people.  


22 responses to Motherhood. Christmas. Connecticut

  1. And thank you for continued prayers for CT.

  2. The churc I’ve belonged to for the last couple of decades doesn’t do a late night service 🙁 So only the early one now and then I go a visiting! I miss singing Silent Night with a congregation at midnight, though, and then walking out into what was often a silent, snow laden village.

    PS: My body keeps trying to tell me I’m not Super Woman…I often ignore it 🙂

    • Guerrina, a silent, snow laden village. Ahhh . . . . those words make me want to jump in the car and drive up to New England. Beautiful thought.

  3. When a child, Christmas Eve services (Children’s and then late night) were the tradition as well as a Christmas tree. Somewhere along the line I realized my Mom loved to bake cookies and hung a wreath on the door…and made ornaments. As an adult, my decorating/crafting and baking has varied depending on if I was feeling like Super Woman…or not :)…if my finances were Super…or not…but always Christmas Eve service.

    Sarah is a very wise young woman and she didn’t get that way on her own! Let me think…where would she have learned this…oh! Her parents & her Lord! It’s now about how much, but about with who. And I firmly believe that none of us should compare ourselves to the wondrous staged beauty of blogland … for some it is a passion and remember, the pictures are staged…real people live in those homes and you, my friend, have a beautiful home that welcomes people in.

    • Guerrina, I have heard so many people say how much they enjoy a Christmas Eve service. I wouldn’t mind an early one but staying up for a late one? It’s NEVER going to happen! 🙂 Glad you’ve have that wonderful tradition in your life for all these years.

      Glad you have some years when you’re not Super Woman either. Maybe next year will be our year! 🙂

  4. Lisa from Georgia December 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I have read your blog and CB page for years and LOVE your traditions. It has never once occurred to me that you don’t do those things you mentioned. No, what are I do notice is that you have a wonderful pancake supper the night of tree donning that your children count on and love. Your family focuses on the Christ in Christmas!
    I too weep with Connecticut and pray that those families not only have the strength to endure, but the mercy to forgive. I wish you all a very merry CHRISTmas filled with love, peace, and joy! Leave the pinecone centerpieces and millions of cookies to Martha Stewart. 🙂 My favorite tradition in our family is our “Pajama Ride” on Christmas Eve. After family communion at church, we all don our new pajamas and ride around looking at Christmas lights. We started this when our kids were small and now they are 17 and almost 20 and still love this.

  5. Hi there Becky…our traditions as a child were about the same as Gayles….When we had children at home it was a lot more fun…we have a tree. in the closet still…decorated cause it stays that way year round…and we have wreaths, and wall decor as well, still in their boxes…I DON’T KNOW I MAY BE A BIT MORE TIRED THAN PREVIOUS YEARS…HOWEVER WE WILL NOT BE AT HOME THIS YEAR AS WE WERE NOT LAST YEAR…LAST YEAR I HELPED
    OUR DAUGHTER PUT UP 8 OR 9 TREES FOR AN OPEN HOUSE SHE WAS PLANING FOR A CHURCH FUND RAISER…SO I decorated last year…just not my house …uh, barn…And being diagnosed with Parkinson’s this last summer..has just taken the wind out of my sails…anyway, just wanted to let you know there are others of us who have not baked. one. single. cookie. either.

    I do not feel bad about it….THat would be a futile attempt I think. lol… Love and blessings….Fran in TExas

    • Fran, glad to know there are other non-cookie bakers out there! Sounds like you had quite an adventure last year, helping to decorate EIGHT trees. Wow!

  6. I need to comment on your comment to her that you don’t do things with her – maybe not Christmas things, but I will digress to a few years ago – staying with Sarah in the hospital, empyting pans that she has vomited in – getting her a “rag” to lay on her feverish brow. Holding her hand as she’s at the doctor’s office. Well, I could go on, but these might not be Christmas things per se, but they were done in love for a very sick child. Maybe you and Sarah can pick one thing you can do at Christmas and start a tradition. One thing we have always done is read the Christmas story on Christmas day, just before we open our presents. God gave His only son, and you gave a lot of yourself to Sarah. What a wonderful year around gift. Merry Christmas to the whole family.

    • Sharyn, yes, you’re right, Sarah and I have certainly spent a lot of “quality time” together over the years; some in the hospital and some out but it has all been special. And we do have a few traditions we already do at Christmas which we all love; we just have different traditions than the “regular” ones, I guess. 🙂

  7. Oh goodness… My mother was the mom who baked dozens and dozens of cookies, Made batch after batch of fudge, pinuche, divinity. The house was decorated from top to bottom and every window in the house had a lit wreath in it. Me? I made a batch of sugar cookies and cut them out and frosted them for our Christmas program at Church last night… I HATE making sugar cookies. They stick on the counter, they stick on the pan, and then I have to putz while frosting them, BUT… I did them for my grandkids 🙂 and lovingly sent them a big plate home 🙂 My kids are coming this weekend and will home through Christmas so I mixed up and shaped a batch of oreo truffles and choc chip cookie dough balls, that both have to be dipped, which is a pain to do too, but my kids love them so I make them with love 😉 Doesn’t sound like it does it? ha! I love to cook, but baking not so much. My house is finally decorated and the tree up. My cards are not all out yet. My shopping is not even half done, I am hoping to go to town tonight and work on that! However, I DO love Christmas and that we can celebrate Jesus’ birth and what it means to us as believers.
    My heart just breaks for the famlies in CT. My granddaughter is 6. I just think, all those parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles. I just have to turn off tv finally cause I hurt so bad for the community. Wendy

    • Wendy, it sounds like you’re a wonderful grandma, doing all that baking even though you don’t really love it! 🙂 And I can only imagine how deeply the CT tragedy hits you since you have a grandchild the same age as the children who died. It really makes it very, very personal. Continuing to pray for them all.

  8. Well, my mother could cook! And decorate! And we each had approximately 20+ presents to open! Christmas music streamed throughout the house! Falalalalala! Church was never part of my Christmas experience. But food, presents, cookie baking and decorating certainly were!

    And I didn’t ‘like’ Christmas. Did. Not. Like. It. I found it very stessful. Every year I was glad when it was over. Yay! I longed to be Jewish. I would look at the undecorated houses and a calm would come over me. Seriously. It was always this way from the beginning.

    And to be honest, I never really enjoyed Christmas until the year that Jimmy, my oldest was away at college. I went through the motions(all the fixings) when the kids were growing up, but my heart wasn’t in it. And I am sure they knew it.

    So, what changed for me that first college year? The realization that the holiday BROUGHT HIM HOME. And then, in the blink of a sparkling eye, I started to enjoy the whole thing. It was about being with family and friends, not the outward preparations…..And I am still learning, at this late date…. it’s about a whole lot more!

    I now make one batch of cookies, put up a tree(this week), put up extra indoor lights for Sarah and that’s it. I mostly anticipate everyone coming home and family being together Christmas eve. They get smiles, laughter, hugs and love.

    I think that my happiness infuses through my children, and will stay with them, much more than lights or cookies ever could.

    • Lesley, I just love your perspective on this subject. After having gone through years and years of Christmas with all the trimmings you have pared it back to the things that matter most to you and your family. Kudos!

  9. Well Becky if you don’t bake then you don’t have to gain all the weight us bakers do from sampling! I just decided to make some microwave peanut brittle. As it was cooking I heard a pop- the glad dish broke so at least you don’t have my mess to clean when it cools?

    • Margie, ooh, a breaking glass dish! Been there, done that! I’ll bet that peanut brittle made a MESS! But as least you get points for trying! 🙂

  10. my mother did bake cookies, cut out santaswith wonderful frosted faces with blue eyes and beards and rosy cheeks, and all the other shapes of cookies, and many kinds of cookies. I tried to do the same but I was a working mom and really didnt have the time. also I was a very poor mom who couldnt afford many treats. then as the kids grew a little older we had diabetes ini the family and the kids didnt need the treats, so I stopped. NOw I am a grandma and getting ready to go see the older two grandkids (in their 20s) and am making a batch of no bake cookies, as it isnt Christmas without them. Sarah is right, every family does do things in a different way and no way is wrong.
    I too weep for those familes in CONN. its just so hard to even imagine sending your child to school and with in an hour this terrible thing happens

    • Sharon, no bake cookies are delicious; I can see why you make them every Christmas! Enjoy your family and your grandkids–what a special season!

  11. Not one cookie here either. We do have the tree up, some lights outside and stockings hung and I finally got all the wrapping and Christmas cards done yesterday. Now I just need to get to the post office and I’ll be ready for Christmas! My mom wasn’t a baker and neither am I. My grandma always brought a couple big coffee cans full of homemade cookies for Christmas and that was a real treat! I’d rather drive around and look at lights than bake cookies any day! My family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve and then Santa would visit and do stockings and our big gift Christmas morning. We kept that tradition with our own family and our kids do the same. We usually have dinner, go to church, drive around and look at lights and then home for gifts. It was always fun to make the kids wait as long as possible. We usually do one gift at a time so everyone watches everyone else open gifts. I have to say that Christmas is so much more fun with a grandchild in the picture now! Merry Christmas!!

    Gayle in AL

    • Gayle, enjoy your grandchild! You are so right–when there is at least one child around during Christmas, it makes things so much more fun and seems to bring out the child in all of us. And I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t baked cookies! 🙂