I’ve just finished back to school and all the associated challenges and events for my four kids, age 11 through 16.
I’ve attended back to school nights, sports orientations and signed all the “I promise to be a reasonable sports parent” forms. Homework, instruments, and games have started and I even brought snacks yesterday for the team. I already have the dates for the parent conferences.
With the overloaded routine approaching insanity, the thought of “holidays” pushes me toward the edge. I am the holiday CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer), organizing the food, presents, traditions, clothes, travel, kennels, house sitters and more. As a mom, I feel great pressure to make the holidays special and fun. I’m the torchbearer of the traditions, either struggling to maintain cherished ones or create new ones for our family. Holidays are the basis of some of the happiest childhood memories. This translates into big expectations and pressure.
The good news is when I let it happen, my children bring back the magic of the holidays. It’s very easy to get caught up in their joy as each day gets marked off the calendar. The kids are working out what they will be for Halloween and planning their candy collection routes. But before the Halloween candy is even stale, the stores are gearing up for the holiday season.
I have written a skit I think one of the late night Jimmys should put on. I’ve named it “Back It Up Santa.” The cast could be as follows: an assembly of ghosts, witches and fairies representing Halloween. Multiple turkeys, pilgrims and Indians could represent Thanksgiving. There would be a giant menorah with candleholder arms. And, there would be a few moms. Everyone present would have a say about Santa! A very mad turkey would yell, “Back up fatso! You have your own holiday in a month, stay out of mine!” The menorah would scream, “Any adult who perpetrates a threat of coal for a gift to children is just mean. And your big red suit and ugly beard scare the children. No one wants to sit on your lap!” Halloween would be up next. The Halloween characters would crowd around Santa and threaten, “If you decorate one more store in October, we’ll send you into the afterlife! You’re nothing but a holiday hijacker!”
Lastly, as a mom, I would get my chance to vent the loudest. “Christmas is a time of joy, but you are making it too commercialized. We want happy memories, not more pressure on shopping. Stop introducing new Christmas shopping initiatives like Black Friday and cyber Monday. I’m too tired and it’s actually dangerous at Walmart! People are getting hurt! Come on Santa! Get some control over Christmas!”
I have one last gripe about Mr. North Pole. In second grade, my son approached me and asked earnestly, “Mom, please tell me the truth so I don’t look stupid on the playground. Is there a Santa Claus or is it really you and Dad?” Since he is the third of our four children, his older siblings knew the truth but we wanted to preserve the Christmas magic for the youngest ones as long as possible. I hesitated as I was debating wildly how to respond. Finally I said, “OK, as long as you keep the magic of Christmas alive, I’ll tell you. Mom and Dad are Santa.” He shuffled his feet and said, “Oh…” and started to walk away. Then he turned around and said, “Thank goodness for the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny.”
The elf on a shelf has made huge inroads into your fan base. He is very popular with children. So do all of us moms a favor and “back it up Santa” and we’ll keep your magic alive!
Eileen Wacker, a Harvard Business School graduate, has lived and worked in seven countries, including the United States. Wacker is also the multiple award-winning author of the Fujimini Adventure Series for children and the upcoming book for women, “The Mom’s Code.” For more information, visit www.oncekids.com.