Thankful for Low-Pressure Holidays

Are you even a mom if you don’t go apple picking, visit a pumpkin patch, coordinate an Instagram-worthy family Halloween costume, and decorate your entire house with every gourd known to man? How about decorating for a winter wonderland at the stroke of midnight post-Thanksgiving, baking several kinds of cookies that rival Martha Stewart’s, and putting up an intricate Elf on the Shelf display every day for an entire month straight?

No, seriously. Can we please lower the bar? Let’s take the holidays down. Several notches.

I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. We’re all doing the absolute best we can right now, and if innocuous things like pumpkin spiced lattes and Hallmark Christmas movie marathons bring you unfettered joy, soak it all up. But can we please, for the sake of every stressed-out mother’s sanity, stop making a big freaking deal about the holiday season.

Why can’t trick-or-treating be enough? Is doing magical Christmas activities every single day from Thanksgiving until December 25 really necessary? Why does it feel like every fall/winter holiday must be celebrated on steroids?

Except for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has always been the bridesmaid holiday, and I hope it will forever stay that way. There are no expectations for over-the-top decorations, no demand for themed events leading up to the actual day. I don’t have a checklist a mile long filled with shopping, baking, and other to-do items. I coordinate with the host what I’m bringing, make a dish or two, and that’s it.

I’ve always enjoyed turkey day — a day to spend time with my family, watch all my favorite characters in the Macy’s parade, play cards, and eat way too much. And to be thankful we are all there to celebrate together. As an adult, it is absolutely my favorite holiday, because there isn’t a lot of pressure or an expectation to celebrate the day a certain way. Unless you are hosting, you only need to worry about bringing a side dish or dessert. It’s relaxing. It’s the calm before the storm that is the holiday season of December. Life is so busy, and it’s nice to have a day to spend with my extended family who I don’t see often and do just that — no gift exchanges, no costumes, no events hyping up the actual day.

I wish there were more holidays that had such lowered expectations. But I will cherish the one we have and make sure it stays low-key.

Lesley grew up in New Bedford, MA, moved to Boston for college and has stayed here ever since. She holds a Masters degree in Criminal Justice and an MFA in Creative Writing. Lesley is a playwright, several of her ten minute plays have been produced throughout New England and two are published in the anthology, More 10-Minute Plays for Teens. Lesley lives in Dorchester with her family. She is mom to a happy and babbling 5 month old son. Likes: Netflix binges, wine, story time with her baby, makeup, and Ryan Gosling. Dislikes: mushrooms, traffic, and getting called ma'am.


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