Editor’s note: Jen is a married mother of two and the author of the book “Spending the Holidays with People I Want to Punch in the Throat” and the blog People I Want to Punch in the Throat. Laugh at her on Facebook and Twitter.
I don't know what it is about the Christmas holidays that brings out the overachieving moms.
As soon as “Silver Bells” starts playing on the radio, that bar (made from a homemade candy cane recipe they found on Pinterest, I'm sure) starts rising and I am done trying to get over it. I'm quite happy languishing down here sipping my instant hot cocoa and eating my store-bought cookies while buying presents online so I don't have to fight the crowds of holiday shoppers mainlining Christmas Blend coffee and jacked-up on freaking holiday cheer.
It used to be, a decent looking tree and a wreath on your door was enough to be festive. Now I'm expected to hire a company to come and hang lights (perfectly) on the peaks of my roof and wrap my trees in glowing wonderment. I'm supposed to line my front walkway with luminaries and live greenery and fill my porch with oversized beautifully wrapped boxes.
These moms will never tell you that your décor is lacking, they'll just drop hints like, “My landscaping company does a fabulous job with outdoor lights. Would you like their number, Jen?” or “Your porch is simply perfect for a set of topiaries I saw the other day. I can send you the link if you'd like. Do you follow me on Instagram? I have tons of ideas there.”
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No, no, no. I am perfectly happy with my pitiful lights haphazardly strung through my bushes and the same wreath on my door that has hung there every season for eight years. The only person who gets close enough to see its flaws is the UPS guy and he's never complained.
I think what bugs me the most is that these moms will tell you that they're not raising the bar, they are just trying to make your life easier with their ah-may-zing ideas. For instance, isn't it so much easier on Christmas morning to dole out presents when everyone has their own individual wrapping paper? No. No, it's really not.
Let me ask you: Is reading a gift tag that hard? Did we really need to simplify that process? Because I think reading the tag is a lot easier than wrapping everyone's gifts in their own special paper. I can just imagine when I'm wrapping presents and I'm surrounded by three different rolls of paper and suddenly I get confused and think to myself, Wait a minute. Is Gomer the snowman paper or the Santa paper? Crap. Now I need to open one and check. Great. Now I've made double the work for myself.
Cookie exchanges don't make my life easier. Hostesses like to tell you that you'll be baking 15 dozen cookies this season anyway, so why not just pop over and share your adorable creations with a crowd of women who would love to judge them? As if I need more judgment in my life?
Besides, I would never bake so many cookies if I wasn't invited to so many cookie exchanges. Plus, don't even get me started on the pressure to make my cookie presentation “wow” the judges. Ugh.
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I definitely don't need a list of 101 ideas of things to do with my Elf on the Shelf to make my life easier. Why do I need all of these crazy ideas? He's supposed to sit on a shelf.
He's not supposed to take a marshmallow bath in the sink.
Or ride in a hot air balloon made from a pair of Underoos.
Or overdose on Jim Beam and Vicodin while a naked Barbie doll watches from her camper (let's face it, those girls are overachievers, too).
Here's what would make my life easier: Just stop the madness. Stop trying to make every single day memorable and magical and photographable (Is that even a word? Well, it is now). It doesn't need to be this hard.
Christmas is already a magical time; we don't need to make it insane. I shudder to think what my kids will be doing for their kids when the time comes. They will probably hire live reindeer to stand on their roof and poop “magical” droppings.