Holidays from Hell: Making the Perfect Memories

Holiday Magic

I love the holidays! Always have. The last few years have been rough and the holidays seem to fly right past while I’m struggling to pull off the perfect Christmas for my kids. Pre-kids I had a beautiful tree with expensive and breakable decorations. There were expensive, brand name gifts and gourmet food. Then there was the other side of it, where I went to work with shelter animals and spent my holidays as the wonderful, charitable angel that I once was.

This year, I’m just trying to keep my head above the water and my kids from tearing the house apart. I want to create the perfect memory for my kids, but what they will probably most remember is how often I told them that Santa was going to leave lumps of coal in their stockings. My boy Santa, did not back me up on that one. Next year, I’m going to have to make good on this one. Tough love!

Holiday Overload

Christmas Eve, my kids were with their father, so I was looking forward to having a day to wrap gifts, put together train sets and bicycles, and then maybe get a quick work out in at the gym. For some reason, the kids returned five hours early. They would not nap or even just sit in front of the TV like good little brain-washed Americans. If you read my blog a year ago, you see the kind of trouble my kids can get into with Christmas trees. It was not a fun or restful afternoon for me at all.

I was screwed. By 2am, I finally finished putting that crap together. We spent Christmas Eve at my parents house and for the most part enjoyed dinner. But then came presents. And with presents came a lot of shouting, wrapping paper and toys flying. This was not just the kids either. It was all I could do not to scream “Shut up! I can’t take it anymore!” None of the excitement appealed to me. I just wanted a glass of wine and a nap.

The next morning, the kids woke up early and were thrilled with their gifts (score one for Santa!).  Not 20 minutes after opening gifts, I was met with chants of “Mom! Get batteries!” and “What do you mean we ran out of batteries?” Then the fighting started. “He won’t share his toys!” “Ummm… didn’t you get a bunch of your own toys?”  “Yes, but I want to share his too!” “Where are the batteries!?” “I can’t wait to see what Santa left at Daddy’s house!”

And Now I Have a Migraine

I spent the rest of the day nursing a migraine that would not go away, now matter how much water I drank or how much ibuprofen I took. It was nice to have a quiet, adult only dinner, though the conversation centered around how much everyone wished the boys were there. I reveled in the peace and quiet and the fact that I didn’t have to get up and serve seconds and thirds and clean up spills. For an hour, it was the best Christmas a mom could have!

So It’s Not Just Me

While all of this was going on at my house, a friend of mine was having the holiday from hell on his own. If I am the self proclaimed “Single Mom Unfiltered” then this guy is my “Single Dad Unfiltered” counterpart, so we will refer to him as “SDU”.

Drama has a way of finding SDU. Several days before Christmas his mom moved in with him. At the last minute she brought two of his nieces with her. SDU had a cross-country road trip planned to visit his three younger children for the holidays. The SUV occupancy went from just being him and his eldest son, and the dog, to including grandma and two little girls. Loads of fun for a 16 hour car trip right?

Me being me, I couldn’t let this one go, so I texted him around the time I figured he’d be taking off. Our conversation went something like this.

SMU: Hey! Are you on the road yet?

SDU: Yeah, shoot me.

SMU: That bad already, how many hours in are you?

SDU: We left an hour ago. These kids are horrible.

SMU: Please, you love kids. Just breathe. You’ll be fine.

SDU: I only like my own kids.

9pm that night

SMU: Are you there yet? Are you there yet? Are you there yet? (I must be the most obnoxious friend ever! That’s probably why I’m still single.)

SDU: No. We stopped 50,000 times.


SDU: Worst Christmas Ever

SDU: We were supposed to be at the half way point an hour ago but we have 2 and 1/2 hours to go.

SDU: Put me out of my misery now!

10 am the next morning

SMU: Are you back on the road yet? If you want to make the time pass faster, you should have a family sing-a-long. If you put me on speaker phone, I’ll direct it for you.

SDU: Uh no, we’re at Walgreen’s buying Head Lice treatment. The fun just continues.

SMU: Oh sh#t! Who has head lice? Obvi, not you.  (He’s bald so…)

No response…. Oh no! I’ve hit a nerve. Time to back off and take a “last minute holiday shopping spree” to the local CVS. While I was there I found a Darth Vader snow globe (on sale!). SDU recently admitted that he was a Darth guy, so I thought I’d buy it to cheer him up. I got home and as I was getting out of the car, I dropped one of my bags. Turns out, it was the one with the snow globe in it… F me.

1pm that afternoon

SMU: Are you back on the road yet?

SDU: Finishing up the head lice treatment.

SMU: Still?

SDU: Not a quick process.

SMU: Well, I got you a Christmas present. Just something fun I saw that I thought would cheer you up.

SDU: What’s that?

SMU: Well, I broke it already so I’ll let you know if I’m able to get another one.

Pause for my 2nd trip to CVS (this time with my kids)

In the car, I prepped my kids that we were going in for two items, very quickly.

“You will stick by my side!”

“You will walk, not run in the store!”

“You will not ask for toys!”

“You will not try to shoplift toys!”

“We know mommy! We’ll be good!”

Okay, so everything I asked them not to do… happened. I had to pat them both down before leaving but I did manage to get the last Darth Vader snow globe. It’s still in tact too!

Later that Day:

SMU: SDU Christmas present is back in business.

SDU: We just stopped again. Merry $%&@#$ Christmas.

…. This is the point where I knew to stop texting. Not sure how the rest of the trip went but I don’t think they’ve started home yet.

In Conclusion

Anyway, the whole point of this is that so many of us have less than perfect families. I was going to use the term “messed up” but was advised to tone it down. These are the memories that one day we will look back on and laugh about. At least, I’ll still be laughing about SDU’s road trip… maybe not the stress-related migraine that I suffered from. Am I evil for taking joy in SDU’s road trip misery? I was laughing my tuchus off but karma came back to me for that one.

We all need to relax and just enjoy being in the moment and enjoying one another. The quest for perfect holiday memories is futile. Just watch the Blackish Christmas episode. Dre reminded me so much of myself at times. It’s the imperfections that we will remember and possibly one day even cherish.

So here’s to holiday cheer and the ability to laugh when things go wrong. Cherish the memories with your loved ones, especially your little ones.

  • Single Mom Unfiltered



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