Holiday Hangover: Reflecting on the “Magic”

holiday stress

The stockings were hung on the chimney with care while snow drizzled onto the ground. Our children all nestled snug in their beds in their matching pajamas. Laughter and joy could be heard throughout the whole house. My kids could hardly wait to awaken Christmas morning to find all the presents wrapped beautifully under the tree.

Was this your reality? Because it sure wasn’t mine. 

The house was a mess and my family was LOUD. I didn’t wrap gifts until Christmas Eve, then woke up at 4:00 a.m. to nibble the darn cookie and run around in the cold to make “Santa” tracks. I headed back to bed but remembered I forgot about the milk and…the REINDEER! Santa’s reindeer make tracks! On my third trip back to bed I remembered our elf goes back to the North Pole, so I tossed her up in my closet where she will rest for another year. It should be noted that during all of this my husband was snuggled in his bed, oblivious to the chaos that just ensued.

My kiddos woke up Christmas Day excited, tore through the presents like it was their job, and only actually played with one that they liked. And you know what?

Nobody looked at the darn cookies.

No one paid attention to my carefully-placed tracks in the snow that I almost lost my toes over.

Nobody noticed that I wrapped Santa gifts in Santa paper and other gifts in different papers.

The days that followed were filled with more family, more gifts, more food, and then “Snowmegedon 2019” hit, changing everyone’s plans. I lost track of days and my kids officially went crazy from being stuck inside, driving me to lock myself in the closet with a bottle of wine and Grandma’s spritz cookies.

It wasn’t until after the storm (both literally and figuratively) passed that I sat down to reflect on all that had happened. I remember growing up and how magical Christmas was.  It was my favorite time of the year; a long break from school and time with family, great food, and of course THE GIFTS. And I realize now why it was so magical:


Our mom’s worked their butts off to create those memories for us, and we didn’t even realize it. I still love the holidays and I feel blessed to have children that I love so much I am willing to risk hypothermia to create those memories, but without fear of ridicule can I just say what we are all thinking…

I am tired, and I didn’t enjoy the holidays as I should have. There, I said it so you don’t have to.

I have found myself asking, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” Is it because our parents did it for us, or because we want to create better holiday memories than we had? Whatever it is we need to stop. I think it is far more important for us to be present and enjoy the real meaning behind the holidays and not stress about who got what toy, where Santa left tracks, or why the elf didn’t get moved. Just buy the darn cookies from the store for that platter you volunteered to bring and spend time with those that bring you joy. Spend time as a family volunteering in the community, take the vacation instead of the gifts, and do whatever it is that you and your family need during the holidays.

As we start the new year we often look back and reflect. The year 2019 was interesting for our family. Full of ups and downs, just as it is for most.

Through it all, I am constantly reminded of what is important. It’s the time, it’s being happy, and it’s magical only because we make it that way, and we do that by giving ourselves permission to not be perfect and ENJOY IT.

My hope for mamas that are “hungover” from the holidays is that you pat yourself on the back, you did it! You survived, it was perfect for everyone else. But next year let’s do better. Let’s do better for ourselves and those we love. Find the balance between our Cousin Karen (who drinks too much and is a little too comfortable around the family) and the “Pinterest perfect” mom I try to be each holiday season. Somewhere in-between lies the mom that will actually enjoy the holidays, be more present and that..that is where the magic lies.

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Ashley is a North Dakota native and lives in Fargo with her husband, Zach, and their three sweet, energetic kiddos Ella, William and Charleigh. A full-time working mom in sales, Ashley constantly finds herself trying to find the balance between family and work. When she is not folding piles of laundry, playing taxi driver, volunteering to "make" cookies she bought at the store, or showing any given member of her family where the "lost" item is, Ashley is dreaming about the trips she will take one day and planning her early morning workouts that will happen once her youngest figures out the whole sleep thing. She also enjoys lots of family time, summers at the lake, and volunteering in our amazing community. Ashley's guilty pleasures are dry shampoo, Botox, coffee, and red wine. She loves her mama tribe and recognizes how important community truly is.


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