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Like it or not, the holiday season is getting underway. You can pretend it's not on the way, but pretending never did anyone any good, as my grandma used to say. With just a week under the big turkey day for Americans, it's a downward dash to the end of the year and all of the holiday season fun and stress. With parties to attend, special meals to prepare, lists to make, presents to buy and, quite probably, a house to clean for the arrival of company, a mom can find herself completely overwhelmed and totally stressed.

I take photos of my kids every year on the weekend after Thanksgiving, in order to have several photos fr our yearly Christmas card. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and I want just the right shots. Typically, I take several different groupings of casual and posed shots, but with six kids to try to get to look the right way and SMILE, for heaven's sake - well, you can imagine that it's somewhat stressful. Last year, my oldest teased my youngest, who burst into tears and ran off, necessitating a run after and a reprimand to the oldest - who proceeded to stare blankly at the camera for the next several shots. After a few really terrible shots, in which people were arguing and crying, I figured why not join in - and I started crying as well. Thankfully, my mom was there to help diffuse the situation and she saved the day.

On the way home, she told me that tried and trite statement, "One day, you'll look back on this and laugh. Remember, the days are long, but the years are short." I sniffled and muttered, but now, a year later - I can see the wisdom in her statement and have already promised myself that I won't flip out when taking pictures this year.

When those pictures were uploaded, I was able to laugh at the ones of my son in which he looks like a felon, and I even included on in our family montage. If you can laugh at yourself - or your kids - it makes the stress of the holidays so much easier to bear. That old saying, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy!" has a lot of basis in the truth.

Getting stressed out and falling apart isn't good for anyone. The picture perfect Thanksgiving table doesn't exist for any family without servants and a staff. So instead of spreading a pristine white table cloth and setting a table worthy of a magazine, why not cover the table with butcher block paper and let everyone color it with crayons? Or cover the table with a length of white fabric and have everyone write what they are thankful for on it with permanent markers.

Set up a buffet instead of a formal, 5 course meal. Let the kids eat mac and cheese on a picnic blanket in the great room while the adults mingle in the kitchen if that works better for your family. If the traditional turkey dinner is too much work or not a family favorite, change it up and serve a Mexican buffet.

The point is, make the holidays your own, special days that serve the needs of your family without leaving anyone sitting on the sofa crying.Do what works for you.

What tips do you have for other moms who may be in the midst of an already-hectic holiday season? Do any perfectly imperfect moments from past holiday seasons come to mind?


by on Nov. 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (41-50):
by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 4:15 PM

This year I'm doing the 4 gift rule:  1 thing they want, 1 thing they need, 1 thing to wear, and 1 thing to read.  And I now order almost everything online because it is so much easier.  Last year, I never even went into a store!  I got free shipping on everything, and it all was delivered right to me. 

by on Nov. 21, 2012 at 7:04 PM

I try not to stress. I just go with the flow. It always turns out good in the end :)

by on Nov. 22, 2012 at 10:35 PM

Very nice tips shared. Thanks for the post.
by on Nov. 23, 2012 at 8:01 PM

Great post.  i think that many women often feel the need to live up to some impossible version of the perfect holiday and in the end, wind up disappointed and stressed out.    Next year, no one will remember the turkey was dry or that the toddlers ate mac & cheese, everyone will remember the emotions and hopefully good feelings of the day.  

by on Nov. 23, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Holidays are about being with your family, taking a moment to relax, and just smile knowing that you have a beautiful family to celebrate with.Nothing else matters. 

by on Nov. 24, 2012 at 1:01 PM

something we have been doing in my family for a while is embracing what we actually prefer and enjoy. A few years a go some1 in the fam realized all of this work was going into this kind of casserole and that, when we really just prefer baked sweet potatoes, green beans and not green bean casserole, etc. So we just have real veggies. That to die for lard crust caramel apple pecan pie that is swoon-worthy? made by cracker barrel and no one is the is INCREDIBLE and tastes like a grandma made it.

i love the idea of the brown paper and doodling, writing down that for which you are thankful. we had a craft ready for the kids right after the meal (b/c they always eat less and finish sooner). It worked out so well we are gonna have another 1 set up for Christmas.

I don't know where the sunbeams end and the starlights begin; it's all a mystery.

by on Nov. 24, 2012 at 1:06 PM
shop early to avoid the rush!
by on Nov. 24, 2012 at 7:37 PM

make the most of the memories that you have while you have them...b4 you know it those years will have flown by & it'll b over

by on Nov. 24, 2012 at 11:25 PM

i just go with whatever happens. i had done so much to prepare for thanksgiving, by the time we sat down to eat I was very sleepy and tired and ready to fall asleep in my stuffing. i ended up napping for 2 1/2hrs. my tip is to slow down....don't wear yourself out!

by on Nov. 25, 2012 at 12:10 AM

 stop wrrying about the stuff.  Kids don't need "stuff"  I am sure you can't remember 97% of the gifts you got as a kid but you remember helping Grandma make candy or drinking hot cocoa after putting up the tree or caroling around the neighbors. Especially kids under 3.  Give then a cardboard box, a wooden soup anda pot to beat on and let them use their young imagination and put the money you save in a college account. Help you children make wonderful memories and not watch their parents worry about how to pay off those credit cards after Cristmas is over.

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