Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Confessions Of A Maternal Humbug

This season defeats me.

My mother never liked Christmas, though she made a valiant effort to hide that fact. She decorated the house and she made a dazzling array of cakes and candy. But her heart wasn't in it.

When I was a young child, I didn't realize of course. But as I got older, I knew. It wasn't something that was articulated or even fully cemented in my childish mind. It was just an awareness that something was missing. I found it puzzling and sad.

I understand now.

Like my mother, I just don't embrace Christmas with the same enthusiasm that others do.

Because I see it as just one more glaring example of how I fall short of the ideal when it comes to being a model parent.

I don't bake cookies. I don't make candy. I don't do cutesy crafts. I decorate, grudgingly, but I put it off until my kids are afraid Christmas will pass us by altogether.

Why? I really don't know, but I think it's resentment.

Resentment that all of this is on my head. More work, more worry, more stress...all piled on me. Nobody blames the Dad if there aren't Christmas cookies. Nobody blames the Dad if Christmas cards are late. Nobody blames the Dads if the children don't have matching outfits for the family portrait. Nobody blames the Dad if the teachers' gifts are lame, or the class party is a flop.

Nobody blames the Dad for anything.

I'm supposed to make all this happen. I'm supposed to make wonderful and cherished Christmas memories for my children. I alone am responsible for the miracles wrought and Joy to the World and freaking Good Will Toward Men.

It's been this way for like, always, I realize now. The women make it happen and everyone else reaps the benefit of her hard work. They enjoy the fruits of her labor with single minded enthusiasm. It's EASY to be jolly when someone else is doing all the work.

*I* could even be jolly if I had a staff to do all the drugework. And then serve me something hot and frothy while I enjoy the twinkling lights and the festively decked halls.

I guess some Moms find it rewarding to be the engineer of carefully constructed Christmas cheer.

I find that it pisses me off.

And I suppose yuletide apathy is my way of rebelling against the onslaught of expectation.

Perhaps it would be easier if there were some snow. All I see here is the dead landscape, bleak and brown. For a gal who grew up in Wisconsin, Christmas south of the Mason Dixon is a little bit...incongruous.

You know what always cheers me up though? Little House on the Prairie. You know, that one where Laura sells Bunny to buy Ma a stove. Pa wants to buy the same stove, but Laura already bought the only one in Mr. Oleson's store? And then Ma and Mary make Pa a shirt out of the same fabric? So Ma pretends that she didn't get anything for Pa. She surreptitiously pushes he package underneath the Christmas tree skirt. And then...and THEN...Pa makes Laura a saddle for the horse she sold to Nellie. And Ma tries to stop her and Charles says, "It's her horse, Caroline. She has the right." and then Caroline says, "But she LOVES that horse!" and then Charles says, "But she loves YOU more."

Sweet weeping Jesus. Now that's what the fuck Christmas is all about.

Not who has the brightest lights or whose Mom makes the most cookies or who got the teacher the most expensive gift.

My kids are older now. They see. I know they do. I know I can't fake or hide it anymore. I don't want them to think that I resent them. I don't. I would buy them the world if I could. I just don't want to decorate it or bake it cookies.

Is that so wrong?

I don't know. Maybe I just need to quit worrying and do it my way and just be okay with that. Maybe "enough" is just what I make it. And maybe...maybe I should just accept that Christmas isn't for me. Once, I reaped the benefit of all my mother's work and worry and that was my time.

I find it immeasurably sad that I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have.


Well, whatever. I am who I am. Christmas at our house is what it is. It will have to be good enough.

Any of you Christmas freaks want to come decorate my house and bake my kids some cookies?

There's a crisp new blog post in it for ya.


  • At 9:09 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    Nope. I hate all the crap surrounding Christmas. The torn up attic, the boxes, putting regular things away to place holiday items in their spots. Move the furniture to fit the tree.


  • At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This makes me sad.... for you, and for your kids... I remember my (working) mom getting stressed out about the holidays too. She came right out and admitted she hated the holidays because of all the extra work SHE had to do, but she still made great food and partook in the festivities. I'm not working outside the home, but it's still difficult for me to pull it off by myself. (So true what you said about men getting let off the hook!!) We also have some December birthdays in the mix, so that just adds to the hectic season. I remember feeling sad that my mom didn't appreciate the season... because I found it so beautiful. It seemed to be the only time of year that people went out of their way to be the best they could be. For me, as hard as it is to juggle everything that goes into it, I've found that careful planning can aleviate much of the chaos. And it's worth it to me because I want to put the effort into giving my kids the memories to reflect upon later in life. I want them to have fond memories of Christmastime and of just being HOME. It helps that I enjoy baking, and decorating, and giving gifts. I don't fault you for not being crafty and not wanting to be - some people just don't get into it. And I feel for you with the absence of snow at Christmas time. I live in the northeast and I could live without snow come January, but I admit that it's always a downer on the occasion we don't have snow on Christmas. It doesn't feel the same. Don't feel bad that Christmas just isn't your thing. You are who you are. (and FANTASTIC mother is a large part of that!!) But with all due respect, maybe you could make an attempt to stop the negative cycle. Try not to perpetuate the negativity. Make the most of it - modify the traditions to fit YOUR family and create NEW traditions. It's the pressure to conform that weighs people down. If the activities/traditions you adopt are a custom fit to your family - you're bound to create memorable holidays for your kids - without the pressure of doing what's "expected". Good luck to you. Whatever your definition may be of a Merry Christmas - I hope you have one.

  • At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Anonymous -- whatever.

    Maybe the negative cycle is making such a big deal over the trappings of the holiday. Maybe you are breaking the cycle by downsizing all the crap around it.

  • At 10:32 AM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    Christmas for my kids wasn't anything like Christmas was for me as a kid. Nor, was it like the neighbor's Christmas. It was what I could do and what I wanted to do for me, for the kids. From the beginning, the goal was to shape the expectations to reasonable levels and to exude an extra dose of peace & joy, with the emphasis being placed on peace. I can (& do)enjoy the pageantry of decorations without feeling compelled to compete.

    I don't bake generally and especially at Christmas. I don't think it's damaged the kid's psyche, they still seem to want to hang out with me eating popcorn & watching movies.

    And for me, us, Christmas is a day, not a season.

    Indeed, it is what it is for you and your family. Or in the words of my daughter and some of her peeps, "do you".

  • At 12:55 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    Anon, do you feel sorry for all the people who don't WANT to celebrate Christmas, too? Like Jews and Muslims and Hindus? Just wondering.

  • At 1:31 PM, Blogger said…

    Huh. I didn't think Anon was being condescending... Thought she was trying to help.

    Anyway, here's my advice: Let it go. Let all of your expectations go. I can guarantee you that your kids don't care about all of the details that you think they care about. Or, try having a minimalistic Christmas, and see if it's just as good for you. It might be! you might find yourself LOVING the season without the stresses we place upon ourselves. Or, you might miss the twinkling lights and frills.

    Mainly, the holidays are one of the few things we can guarantee our kids will remember. All of those soccer games we attend, dinners we cook, and homework we help with? It can easily blend into a vast, single memory. But Christmas? Christmas is something we all remember...

    Hope this year surprises you. Hugs.

  • At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you to Tracey and to The Only Daughter, for doing a better job saying what I TRIED to say. In a nutshell, I was suggesting BA create whatever atmosphere means happiness for HER family and THAT can be their tradition. It doesn't have to be what many would expect them to do.

    In no way was I being condescending. I think very highly of BA and her parenting, her thinking, her writing and how much she is in touch with who she is...whether or not anyone agrees with her and whether or not it fits neatly into a certain category. And the fact that she ponders her views and admits to having feelings that aren't necessarily in line with the majority is a sign of strength.

    The reason I am sad for BA and her kids is because I wish everyone could experience the warmth and joy I feel and look forward to at this time of year. And they're not missing out because of their beliefs (to answer your question margalit) but it's being taken away from them by the external pressures of society. Those who have other beliefs/traditions have made choices about how they celebrate or not- the pressure and stress is not being thrust upon them. I think it's fair to assume that they're enjoying their holiday traditions, whatever they may be, since they chose them. I encourage everyone, regardless of your beliefs, to define your own happiness and do whatever it is that helps you achieve it. And that's all I was suggesting to BA -if these expectations are taking too much of a toll on her, then I hope she can find a way to have the holidays bring happiness to her family - even if it ends up having nothing to do with Santa, Jesus, lights, gifts..... And then when her boys grow up, they can look back with fond memories (rather than dreading it as well) and pass on whatever traditions they've created on their own. Stop the buck, if you will.

    To wheels on the bus.... you're not breaking the negative cycle by downsizing all the crap if you're STILL miserable about it. I'm sorry you don't agree with my opinion, but it isn't necessary to be so rude and dismissive. I was merely making a suggestion (to someone who has gained my respect) in order to let her off the hook about feeling the need to meet society's expectations. Excuse me for wishing for happiness for another human being.

    Ya know, I'm not a blogger and I only read a handful of blogs that I've stumbled across in the past 15 months. This one is by far the BEST and I look forward to reading it each day. Forgive my naivete, but I wasn't aware of the blogging rule that says you have to be in COMPLETE agreement with someone in order to comment on a post. Nor was I aware that having a different viewpoint from the blogger means you've somehow attacked them. Happy Holidays anyway Wheels.

    BA - my comments to you were sincere and in no way intended to be condescending. I certainly hope you didn't take it that way. I wish only the best for you and your family.

  • At 5:17 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…


    No, I did not take it that way, but thank you for clarifying and for making an effort to make sure your meaning and your intent was clear.

    I don't expect everybody to agree with me. In fact, I think the reason I feel that my commenters are the best, is because they take the time to really put their feelings out there and discuss.

    I'm not looking for pat agreements, incincere compliments and flip "right ons", I like the discussion and different points of view. I can honestly say that never has a commenter gotten under my skin *just* for disagreeing with me. And I don't want my commenters to agree with each other, either.

    For the most part, everyone who does express an opposing viewpoint, does it in a civil manner.

    So thank you again for your perspective, your suggestions (both of which were helpful, an d did indeed give me some food for though) your readership, and your desire to make sure that I didn't misconstrue your intent.

    And a Merry Christmas to you and all my readers.

  • At 6:16 PM, Blogger jess said…

    Just a viewpoint from the crafty type: I do all the cookie baking, decorating, ornament making because I love it, not because I'm trying to make other people look bad. In recent years I haven't felt as much like doing it or had the time & resources, so I just don't. I mis it sometimes, but I don't feel guilty. Maybe it would be different if I was a mom.

    I used to be all super-domestic-woman when I lived in RI and it made me so sad when non-crafty friends felt intimidated by my Marfa Stewartyness because that's the LAST thing I wanted. Do what you love and don't worry about what anyone else thinks!

  • At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOL - I'd love to see what sort of wing-ding Christmases I could put on if I had your leisure time - throwing a 40 hour work week and a daily commute into the picture does complicate things - but I find, like anything - you get out what you put in. You seem to have a real sense of entitlement about your leisure time - do you think its possible you could just be lazy?

  • At 9:20 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    I totally get where you're coming from. I think my main problem with Christmas is the pressure to do it bigger and better and the fact that it starts right after Labor Day. I know that every time I put the Christmas stuff away in January, I know I'll just be getting it right back out again in a couple of months. That's how it seems, anyway.

    I had a thought a few years ago, that maybe if Christmas came only every other year, it would be easier to handle. Because really, the "holiday season" lasts for three months. And then the day after Christmas, we're all supposed to start shopping for Valentine's day, according to the stores, anyway. Honestly, it all makes me tired.

    If you find someone to decorate and bake cookies, send him/her my way next. Oh hell, who I am kidding...send HER my way. It would never be a HIM. Unless he was gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Aw, BA. Toss those preconceptions out the window. Do it your way. Have a good time. That's what counts.

    I don't do much decorating. I certainly don't do baking (though I *want* to, I never get around to it). We make construction paper decorations to put on the window, OmegaDad makes a gingerbread house with the dotter, we have a good time, and that's what counts.

  • At 4:44 AM, Blogger Notes and letters to myself.... said…

    You could just stay drunk through the entire season until January 6th, and I think that's when the Epiphany is supposed to happen:)heh

  • At 3:27 PM, Blogger Kathryn in NZ said…

    And I bet it doesn't help that you miss your Wisconsin family even more at this time of year, BA?
    Thinking of ya in this Yuletide madness.
    Hugs from the equally snowless Downunder

  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Green-Eyed Momster said…

    I feel the exact same way, BA! All the extra work and what for? Yes, the mini tree is up, for the kids... I wouldn't have decorated this year if it wasn't for them. I bake really great cookies with the cookie dough you buy at the store!
    Since I've been working out of the house, and having to listen to Christmas music ALL day at work, I f-ing hate Christmas some days.

    For us the Season is about being thankful for our family and our health. It's about all we've got this Season but we are thankful!

    I hope you're feeling better. Get some cookie dough from the store that's already to bake. Nobody will know the difference. It'll be our little secret!! LOL!!


  • At 4:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there a Christmas rule book?
    If so I don't have it. I 'do' Christmas my way, with everybody in the family pitching in. This way we have our own special Christmas that is just ours. Delligate or just don't do it. It is a standard rule in our house that the cook NEVER does the dishes. Love that rule! Oh and buy the cookie dough (if you under cook them by 5 mins they turn out soft and yummy!)

  • At 1:41 AM, Blogger Shelley Jaffe said…

    Dear woman, if I could figure out a way to send you cookies in a timely and affordable fashion, rest assured that I would.

    But I can't, so I'll just say that I understand the ambiguity. I found the performance anxiety stultifying, and am quite thankful that I left that all behind. I am quite content to watch at arm's length.

    The love and security you provide on a daily basis to your kids will be what they remember most; not that you didn't bake cookies. There are stores for that!

  • At 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BA-- I couldn't agree with you more, but just not able to verbalize it as well as you.

    I wasn't aware that it was resentment that I've been feeling, but I feel up to my gills in To Do lists as it is. Adding Christmas to the mix is enough to send me over the edge! I do my best though. I do the baking and the cooking and whatever else we can throw into the mix, but although I think I may be hiding it well, something tells me they'll figure out my true feelings of Christmas as they get older.

    BTW, I'm aware of the grass is always greener phenominom, but I can't help but think that Christmas without 20 below wind chills wouldn't be such a bad thing. ~Kellie

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger Sarahviz said…

    Perfect timing on this one for me, BA. I haven't been able to put my finger on why I'm so damn CRABBY - isn't this supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year"? But you nailed it - it's b/c I'M THE ONE WHO DOES EVERY-FRICKIN-THING. On top of working full-time.

    That's it - Hubby is totally wrapping all the gifts (that I went out and bought, of course). Every single one.

  • At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    these words have been ringing inside my head for the last few years, and on this most recent christmas i've taken action. the tree did not go up on the day after thanksgiving~the world continued to spin. the ornaments that made it on to the tree looked fine. (the ones that didn't are fine too.) everybody got gifts and they were happy, even though they didn't get the same number of gifts. the five of our kids are almost all in their 20s, scattered for schooling, etc.~but being Home together made it. the rest is just details. what a good feeling~may that feeling come to you or you come to it, whatever it takes for next year.


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