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Sometimes We Fake It

Sometimes we fake it. The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize that there were times my mom wasn’t filled with Christmas spirit every minute of every day in December. There were times she (*gasp*) faked the magic. I’m starting to suspect she didn’t even love cleaning the house or doing laundry. In my more cynical moments, I even wonder if she didn’t always want to listen to my incessant chatter with rapt attention. It’s shocking, really, and it took becoming a mother to figure it out.

My mom recounts a story about a time when she was forcing me to do some hideous chore like clean my room or pick my socks up off the floor and I snarked, “I’m sorry mom. I’m not like you. I don’t like cleaning!” She was just always so dang cheerful about housework that I erroneously assumed she loved it. Maybe she was trying to fake us into loving it, but just as likely she was trying to trick herself.

I’d say I’m about 40% into Christmas this year. I’m going through the motions but the bug hasn’t bitten me yet. I’m not brimming over with good cheer and peace-on-earth optimism. We got the decorations up. The advent activity calendar is set with some mindblowingly fun, festive activity listed for every day of the month in an insane countdown to the day of days, and I’ve been playing the music.

But I don’t crave the music the way I pretend to for the kids. “Hey kids! I know what would be fun! Let’s play the Raffi Christmas CD one more time! That will get us feeling all Christmassy and such!” I’m pretty sure they think I’m Mrs. Santa disguised as their mother.

I remember childhood Christmases as being pure magic, and I want them to have that too. I think sometimes as a parent you just need to suck it up and fake it until you feel it. And I hope I feel it. I really do. It’s my favorite time of year – celebrating the core of my religious beliefs, eating candy, and getting and giving lots of presents. I hope the wonderment comes, but if it doesn’t for me, I’m not gonna ruin it for the kids by bah-humbugging them. I will be the anti-humbug.

Talking to my mom, I also found out that she wasn’t always thrilled about doing the advent calendar activities every day. In fact, sometimes (don’t tell anyone), she would move the activities around if she didn’t feel like doing a particular one that day. I was shocked and chagrined! All my life, I thought she was laying awake at night, counting down the hours to the next day when we could open that slip of paper from the advent pocket and find out what head-poppingly, exciting thing we got to do that day. Apparently this was not the case.

It’s oddly comforting. I don’t have to feel like supermom all the time. Sometimes I can just put on the cape and shlump around in it until it fits again.


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