December 5, 2011

On Making Memories

I once heard it said that as a society we Americans focus so much on making sure that we make perfect memories that we actually miss out on the memories we would have made. It's kind of a convoluted statement I know -- but it is something I couldn't agree with more.

The article goes on to discuss how, in the pursuit of the perfect Norman Rockwell type of life, we miss out on the life we are living now. I guess it's sort of like missing the forest for the trees.

This is something I am determined not to do with our family. I promise you now, Evie will not have a hugely elaborate birthday with a cake covered in fondant and themed cupcakes, either made or ordered. I refuse to stress myself out over making her birthday an affair rather than a party so that at the end I don't remember anything fun about my kid's day. It's going to be simple, with only close family and friends. I'll make the food and the cake.

You might notice that I didn't have a Fall Bucket List as so many people did. We went to a pumpkin patch and took pictures and I am really glad we did. We didn't carve pumpkins though; Evie didn't even get to paint one. We didn't go trick or treating (which we wouldn't have done any way and probably won't next year either) because she was sick. No apple picking occured in our neck of the woods and I don't think I baked a single pumpkin flavored treat. Oh, wait. Pumpkin pie... I made it for Thanksgiving.

I won't do it for Christmas either. I won't do it for me, I won't do it for Evie's father or grandparents either. I see it all the time -- parents dragging their wailing and obviously unhappy children from one completely important and unskippable Christmas event to another. I'm not trying to be judgy, maybe I sound that way, but unless it is actually fun I don't want any part of it. Why drag your unwilling and screaming three year old onto Santa's lap and spend 20 minutes trying to get him to smile? That stresses your kid out and it stresses you out. Where is the fun in that? Where are the warm and fuzzy memories? What not do something that has you all laughing?

I'm not saying that traditions aren't important. There are many Christmas traditions that I treasure from my childhood. Things we always did in my family. Things that Chris always did with his. Things that we have combined to form our own traditions. Traditions are very important, but for me, for our family, it is important to limit them to a certain number so that it's about the fun that just happens if we let it -- and not about creating the perfect memory.

There are exactly three things I want to do this Christmas:

1) Go to Zoo Lights with Stephen, Libba, the boys and Sarah and Jason. Enjoy watching the babies' faces light up when they see the lights. Enjoy watching Gus (who is growing up far too fast) run from display to display in all of his two and a half year old boyish amazement.

2) Go to Christmas Eve service with our family and eat dinner after. Watch a movie with the hubby.

3) Make a big breakfast and enjoy Christmas morning just the three of us and be lazy for a little while until we start our hectic day (more on the hectic day -- this is the ONLY year we are doing this).

I'm not trying to criticize anyone who wants to do things a different way. I'm sure I will take Evie to see Santa -- but the second she gets upset, it's over. Seeing my kid cry will not be a happy memory for me or anyone else and I won't upset her for the sake of a picture. I would rather just let the fun unfold. And who knows, maybe Evie will love Santa?