a beautiful mess: making the holidays my own

I’m a sucker for holidays. The food, cocktails, merriment, music, parties, loved ones, treats: the whole sha-bang.

I’m the girl who orders the family matching holiday pajamas, takes the pictures with Santa, puts out an elaborate spread on Christmas Eve for all of the reindeer + sleigh goers (despite eating a lot of the cookies myself).  I’m the girl who starts blasting holiday tunes the day after Thanksgiving. My friends from High School still tease me as I used to play Christmas Music everyday after school during the months of November and December. I even hosted an annual Christmas Party for all of my friends where all attendees (some against their will)  performed a lip sync of their favorite christmas carol in front of the whole group. Year after year, I proudly performed Santa Baby (and yes I was in Middle School at the time. Looking back I realize it was a little odd).

Yet I’m not sure I had a choice much of a choice regarding my holiday enthusiasm, as my mother has Fir Tree Candles blazing in her house throughout the entire year, starts shopping for everyone on her list in the summer, and filled an ENTIRE room full of the most delightful gifts for our family to open every Christmas morning. I was an only child. And so the presents were pretty much all for moi. You can see where this love affair began :)

Since becoming a mom, I’ve taken space and time to reflect on what I’d love to create for my little family in terms of traditions. What traditions would I love to keep? What do I want my children to experience? What’s the focus? What if they don’t share my exuberance for all things holiday?

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

  1. The 5 gift rule: Despite the joy that the room full of presents brought to my 10 year-old self, our children receive no more than 5 gifts under the tree: Something to wear, something to read, a toy, a treat and one surprise item. Having those categories keeps me excited to find special things for them, as opposed to buying every item that I think they’d love. We are hoping to instill appreciation and gratitude from a young age. And who am I kidding, they will still receive a ridiculous amount of gifts from our relatives who do not appreciate our 5 gift rule :)

  2. Share the love: My husband and I make an enormous brunch spread every Christmas morning and invite my parents and their pets over to eat and open presents with the kiddos. Seeing Christmas through their grandchildren’s eyes is the best present they could ask for, and we want to make sure that they are a part of our morning magic.

  3. Set aside time to take it all in: After putting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve, my husband and I open a bottle of wine and reflect. We talk about what part of the day we think the kids will love the most, how funny Uncle Ed was at dinner, memories from holidays past and how we can’t believe two knuckleheads who met in college (us)  created all of this love.

  4. Embrace the chaos: while my holidays were happy growing up, they were also quiet. As an only child, I’ve always known that I wanted to have a large family of my own. As a mom of two littles, two dogs and a cat in a sweet little house in Newburyport, I LOVE that my holidays are now full of chaos, laughter, noise, pet hair, spills, tantrums, coffee, excitement and (lots of) mimosas.

A beautiful mess. In matching pajamas, of course. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Bri McCorkell