God, I’m glad the holidays are behind us. The entire month of December felt like an overwhelming series of to-do lists with a big anxiety-inducing family get-together at the end of it, which is to say I’m not sure I was able to soak up the spirit of the season this time around.

I felt this way last year, too. There are of course plenty of reasons why the holidays feel more stressful than they used to be (like, I don’t remember actively praying that no one brings up the they/them convo in years past) but I think what I’m really missing is the magic of younger kids at Christmastime.

Of course, I’m not really missing the grind of having littles during the holidays. I know I’m not the only one who succumbed to making whimsical chalkboard “bucket lists” that were really a burdensome parental deathmarch of festivity: we WILL make the hot chocolate, we WILL visit the photogenic tree farm, we WILL build a gingerbread house even though it’s the one and only winter holiday activity that’s even messier and more frustrating than carving pumpkins.

Do you know that parenting poem “The Last Time”? I’m not even going to link it because it makes me so weepy, if you want to do that to yourself you’re gonna have to do the googling. Anyway, the gist of it is that you never know when something is the last time — the last time you read to them in bed, the last time you hold their hand crossing the street, the last time you carry them in your arms.

*GIANT WATERY INHALE*

Anyway: that’s what I think about too much during the holidays. All our last times. The echoing chasm between holiday expectations and holiday realities. The daunting task of simply being present, rather than caught up in what things should or should not be.

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Swistle
5 months ago

I was reading along and just nodding empathetically as usual, but “*GIANT WATERY INHALE*” is where I let out a SOB.

April
April
5 months ago

❤️❤️❤️ Yep, all of what you said.

Kate
5 months ago

I can’t bear to think about the last anything, but I think the rest of it is okay. It changes as they change, and new things are important, but it’s always good.

Grace
Grace
5 months ago

There was so much excitement surrounding the holidays when the kids (now 17 & 19) were little. Everything felt like an adventure. Now, it is more like contentment. I sometimes miss the pulsing energy, giggles, and utter delight, but I have traded it for thoughtful conversations over coffee.

Lisa
Lisa
5 months ago

I don’t have kids, but the holidays are hard for me because I am close to my parents and in laws. We lost my dad in 2021 and I am so keenly aware that we will lose the other three, one by one until none of them are left. And the void where my dad used to be is so strong during the holidays. Ugh, mid life is so hard, I feel you.

Emma
Emma
5 months ago

My youngest just climbed into my bed like he does every morning, his elbows and knees carelessly bumping into parts of my body that should not be bumped; chatting away about Roblox and Minecraft and other almost-9-year-old-boy-things that do not interest me in the slightest. It’s the best feeling in the world and my heart is pre-breaking for knowing he’ll soon just get dressed and go downstairs without even saying good morning.

Lee
Lee
5 months ago

Oh, gosh, these lines: “The echoing chasm between holiday expectations and holiday realities. The daunting task of simply being present, rather than caught up in what things should or should not be.”
Precisely what I have lived for the past 11 days. I’m grateful it’s over, too. Thanks for articulating it for me!

Shawna
Shawna
4 months ago

I think I do actually remember the last time I carried my daughter in my arms, because she’d become too big to do it routinely but became ill enough to be hospitalized from excessive vomiting at one point, and I carried her to the washroom and back because she was too weak to walk there easily herself. I’m getting a bit teary just thinking about it, even though she pulled through just fine and only required IV hydration and anti-emetics for less than a day.

Amalia Cristina
1 month ago

thanks for sharing. it was an interesting experience