Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

I have noticed a tendency for people to become a little stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays. If you are not enjoying this time of year 100%, please know that you are obviously doing something wrong. There is no reason why the month of December shouldn’t be an endless stretch of cuddles and love-soaked moments with your precious children. Don’t succumb to the lie that children aged four and under are for the most part tiny packages of rage wrapped in lint and sticky residue. No! There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be smiling and enjoying meaningful family time every waking hour of December.  Every moment is an opportunity to make a memory and if you’re not, you have lost that moment…FOREVER…

I didn’t use to know this, but fortunately I have been exposed to some excellent social media sources, particularly Pinterest, and understand now that my previous frustration with the fact that my child only refers to herself in the third person and seemingly exists only to take things away from her twin brothers is merely a lack of appropriate stimulation.

Now, I used to be a bit of a negative nelly. I foolishly thought that kids didn’t have the interest or attention span to do some of these activities. I understand now how wrong I was. How very, very wrong. Following is a list of things you can do with very young children that are fun and wonderful. If they are not fun and wonderful, you probably just suck, so try harder.

1) Looking at Christmas Lights.

This is something you must do, or you’ve pretty much ruined your kids’ childhood. Now, you may be thinking “lights can only be seen at night, and that is typically when my small children are sleeping”. Sleeping is for losers, whiner! Keep those kids up and awake so they can appreciate the wonder of the season. After all, overly tired, overly stimulated kids are easily soothed by long drives in the cold. Especially Ben. Nothing says family fun more than praying together that that kid stops screaming before you accidentally drive headlong into a tree.

2) Going to see Santa

This is only ever fun, and not stressful. It may SEEM like a lot of work to get the kids up and dressed, to stand in line at the mall for an hour, but that is the WRONG attitude! The added bonus to this activity is all the calories you burn loading kids in and out of the car, in and out of their jackets and chasing them merrily through the mall when they make a break for it.

3) Making Handprint Ornaments

I used to think of handprint ornaments as kind of like childbirth. No one actually wants to DO it, but we do want the end product. My vision of a succession of little hands growing and growing, merrily festooning my tree gave me joy, but the process, sadly did not. This is WRONG! If you are dreading the spilling, mess, dough-eating, crying and screaming that occurs each and every time this is attempted, you have clearly pinned the wrong pins. This is fun, and clean, and the dough never cracks or falls apart. Dummy.

4) Christmas ‘Parties’ involving kids

Like pancake breakfasts, for example. This is NOT a form of torture designed in order to indicate to you that you need to start saving for therapy because your kids are as anti-social and introverted as you, only with no filters preventing them from shrieking how much they hate it. No. This is a fun opportunity to mix and mingle in your community and enjoy the spirit of giving and true sacrifice by paying admission for an activity that is in no way is enjoyable for any member of the family. THAT is the true spirt of selflessness so get those screaming kids to the party now!

5) Wrapping Gifts

There is nothing so bonding and meaningful as wrapping Christmas gifts with small children. It teaches them patience, artistic skill and how to use scissors and tape effectively. Make sure you have $13,000 to invest in materials and supplies because small children basically suck at wrapping presents, but what they lack in skill, I promise theyIMG_9143[1] make up for in enthusiasm. So quit looking at the small picture (like, having wrapped gifts) and enjoy the memories (like, of your kids screaming ‘let me, let me, let me’ only to dispense and entire role of scotch tape into a ball of goo).

I am so, so, so happy I learned the errors of my ways. Thanks to social media, I understand that everyone else in the whole world loves and is successful at these activities and that my failure to enjoy them is not only abnormal, it is probably evil. I am so happy to understand that all I need to do is try harder, and I will love every minute of this blessed season and never, ever lose my temper again.

**and thank you to the staff at St. Augustine’s psych ward for all the good medication and nice soft walls.

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