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How a Mom Handles the Holidays


Written by Guest blogger

Shelle Lenssen

As a kid, I remember holidays and special occasions being a these fun and magical times filled with family togetherness, my favorite foods, and exciting activities. Depending on the holiday, I looked forward to a house full of visitors, opening dozens of presents, drinking out of the “fancy” glasses, and dressing up in a pretty dress and donning new shoes. I don’t think I ever once pondered the amount of time, energy, and work that went into making these childhood memories. But now that I’m a mom, and the one in charge of making holidays memorable, I know exactly how much preparation and hard work go into one simple day or event.

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I’m a list-maker, so when a holiday is on the horizon, my lists just get longer and longer. Ideally I plan the guest list and menu first, and then fit in activities and any other extras that might make the event special. But ideal situations, are just that, ideal, and aren’t what typically happens. Inevitably, a guest (or two) is added last-minute, travel plans change, a kid spills punch on their nice clothes, or someone suddenly decides they’re only following a vegan diet. Those are the times I’ve wanted to freak out, but instead I took a breath, kept a smile on my face, and tried my best to come up with a reasonable solution. An extra place setting can be added, dinner can be re-heated for tardy guests, children can wear different outfits, and I can always throw a bag of steamed veggies in the microwave. As much as I try for ‘ideal’, sometimes settling for ‘okay’allows me to not put as much pressure on myself and actually enjoy the event I’ve worked so hard to create.

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My absolute worst holiday near-disaster happened last Christmas. I had planned an extensive menu for my family and out-of-town guests, with a large prime rib beef roast serving as the meal’s shining star. Midway through roasting, my trusty meat thermometer quit working, and despite my best guess about cooking time, the slices of prime rib looked raw instead of the medium rare perfection I’d envisioned. I wanted to cry, have a tantrum my toddler would be proud of, and lock myself in my bedroom and not come out until Christmas was over. My good husband has learned to recognize the signs of a pending meltdown, and swooped in with a resolution to save his drowning wife.Roast slices were quickly grilled on the stove and no one had to eat raw meat. The meal turned out just fine, and by the time dessert was served, everyone was laughing over shared jokes, pouring another glass of wine, and not at all thinking about the underdone roast fiasco.

I certainly don’t want to ever have a holiday disaster like that again, but if (or when) it happens, I hope I can be cool-headed enough (or have my quick-thinking husband nearby) to go off-script and improvise.