The Smart Parent's Holiday Survival Guide

Real Mom Trade-Offs: What Stays and What Goes?

"The year my kids were born, I was the biggest stress case, running around and trying to get all the food and gift shopping done. Two days before Christmas, I was on the phone with my sister and admitted I had yet to buy presents for her, my mom, and my other two sisters. She hadn't either. So we decided to wait until after Christmas to exchange gifts -- and we've been doing that ever since. One thing even having twins hasn't kept me from doing, however: spending all day on the 24th preparing a million-course Christmas Eve feast. I love to cook! And to me, sitting down to a big family meal is what the holidays are all about."
-- Cameron Burke, a mom of twins from Boston

"Before I was a mother, I always had a beautiful, perfect, all-white Christmas tree. Now, with three boys, I have a special tree in the playroom with ornaments they made, a tree in our family room with colored lights and funny, cute ornaments, and one in the living room with my white lights and delicate glass ornaments. The boys love all of them, and we decorate together. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it to me to still have my special tree."
-- Carole Lyons, of Birmingham, Alabama

"Once my husband and I started a family, it was really important to me that we spent Christmas at our own house -- something I knew wouldn't go over well with the grandparents and relatives, many of whom live within easy travel distance. So as a trade-off, I promised we'd visit whenever they wanted up through Christmas Eve. Really! I will literally schlep anywhere, to any and every party we are invited to. It's worth the travel headaches to me to be able to have a peaceful Christmas Day at our home with just the four of us."
-- Marci Foster, a mom of two from Hinesburg, Vermont

"I could never give up decorating the house, which can be very time-consuming. My husband loves to go nuts, putting up lights everywhere. So we either start in early December and do a couple of strands at a time, or we invite close friends over for a light-hanging party. It's a nice way to have an intimate holiday celebration and also get decorating help! What I've gladly stopped doing: baking. I make one pie and then buy those pretty grocery store cookies. Or I'll ask my mom to send a big tin of my childhood favorites."
-- Rhia Kuroda, a mom of one from Richmond, Vermont

Originally published in the December 2008 issue of American Baby magazine.

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