I’m not going to lie; this holiday season wasn’t all that magical. It wasn’t the Hallmark movie script I had in my head. I had big plans to make Christmas cookies, drive around to see the lights, have the presents beautifully wrapped with time to spare, build a gingerbread house, decorate the tree while singing Christmas carols, and attend all the holiday parties.

Here’s where my plan got foiled: I have kids.

I get that kids bring the magic to Christmas with a twinkle in their eyes, but they also have a way of derailing your best-laid plans. They fought in the car ride to look at the lights, they broke ornaments, they smashed cookie dough into the chair cushions, and they were crazy hyper from all the Christmas cookies and gingerbread house decorating. Every time things weren’t going as planned, my stress level increased. I love my kids immensely, and I wouldn’t want to spend the holidays without them. But man, they can be difficult at times.

We were so busy from all the holiday parties and activities that the kids were often over-tired and cranky. Somehow we ended up in a panic shopping for gifts two days before Christmas. It was exhausting! Cranky mom came out, and nobody ruins Christmas as quickly as she does. The holidays were not the magical time I envisioned.

I had to give up the dream and accept the reality.

The holidays can be stressful — that’s just a fact. If we try to make them perfect, we will most likely fail.

What I realized this year — and what I want to remember the next holiday season — is that we benefit when we occasionally let the “perfect” plan go and instead look for the good that is surely there, even when it’s difficult to see. It’s not always easy for me to stay optimistic and focus on the good when things aren’t going as planned. It’s worth it to work on that (New Years resolution, maybe?). Sometimes we simply need to be with our families, chill, and remember what the holidays are all about.

The truth is, there were “magical moments” hidden within the chaos; those moments may have been fleeting, but they were there. The kids stopped fighting for a minute and marveled at the Christmas lights, they smiled when they found their favorite ornaments in the box, they giggled while making a mess in the kitchen, and they squealed with excitement while opening gifts. I’m going to try to focus on those moments amidst the not-so-magical ones, because those are the moments I want to remember — and the ones I hope my kids remember.

Maybe next year I will forget the stress of the holidays and remember it as the “best Christmas ever” like the Matt Damon SNL skit (hilarious by the way). I will also try to remember to stop trying to make things perfect, because there’s no such thing. The holidays can be fun, but they are not always magical. And that’s OK.

Cheers to imperfect holidays!


Ranessa Doucet
Ranessa is a Boston native who grew up in Charlestown and never gets tired of exploring the city. She now lives north of Boston with her husband, two kids, and two mischievous pugs. Ranessa earned her master’s degree in elementary education and licensure in early childhood education. She currently works as an Academic Interventionist and Freelance Writer. Ranessa loves writing about parenting tweens, exploring New England, health, and self-care. When not writing or reading, you can find her watching reality TV, eating chocolate, attending her kids’ sporting events, and dreaming about the beach.