Podcast above ☝, affirmations and body image boosts below 👇, but first an essay from me…
My husband looked me square in the eye. He must be serious.
“No. It’s too much. You’ve gone too far.”
He was right. Going even further over our decor budget to purchase the Froggy's Fog Pro Snow Machine for Christmas morning “snow” was too much.
“I mean, how long does it even take to make the snow?” he argued.
“No….it’s just…..soap” I conceded as I threw in the towel on that idea, hoping he didn’t hear the “just soap” part.
I meant well. Christmastime in Florida leaves a lot to be desired. With no trip up north this year, I set out to manufacture a white Christmas at home. Fireplace screen savers, singing extra loud at the library’s holiday puppet show and pretending not to break a sweat as we picked out our tree at Home Depot in the 90-degree heat.
We became blow-up lawn character people. I got a “North Pole” — a literal pole that I’d set up every morning after being knocked down by the wind or an unruly band of raccoons. I’d labor to resurrect it with the same dedication as the construction crew building the house next door. “This is why women should just stay inside,” they must have thought each morning when they pulled into the job site to see the pole laying reliably on the ground.
Today, with Christmas only a few days away, and gifts still unpurchased and unwrapped, I went into full-blown over-schedule, over-panic mode. When will we ice skate? When will we go see the trains at the mall? What day will we watch Scrooged and what will we eat while doing so? No detail was too small to be thought out, because this was our last chance before all the Christmas fun would be forced back into a box for another 11 months.
The fear of missing out on the perfect Christmas moment if I didn’t schedule it felt like my old ED days when I’d get overwhelmed if an impromptu invitation to happy hour popped up on my calendar. If I had just eaten, it would send me into a spiral since I hadn’t planned on the extra meal, and I’d be paralyzed with regret that I wouldn’t be able to easily participate in the shared meal everyone was about to enjoy.
I knew I needed to start pumping the breaks on my holiday over-scheduling when my warped body image thoughts started occupying my headspace so loudly I could barely hear jingle bells in the background. “You ate way too many cookies, you’re going to feel like crap all afternoon and be too distracted with guilt to be present with your kids!” and “you’ll never be able to be in a routine, but you should sign up for the new gym opening next month to keep yourself on track.” Things I’d never say to or think about someone else, especially this time of year.
So I’m forcing myself to take things off my “planned fun” list, and leave space for spontaneity. Like that moment today when I turned the volume to 11 to listen to Ariana Grande’s “Santa tell me” on the way home from school pickup. At first, my daughter begged for me to turn it down because she couldn’t hear the show she was watching. But it didn’t take too long for my mom-dance moves to send her into hysterical laughter.
Tonight, I’m watching “A Christmas Story Christmas” to the end to see how Ralphie manages to reset his family’s expectations while downloading scripts on prepping your kids for gift disappointment.
And, of course, I’m getting comfortable with the possibility that the days turn out not fun. Maybe the most magical moment happens in that open time, something that defines our entire Christmas season. Or, maybe we just get some much-needed rest.
And, instead of recreating a manufactured white Christmas, I’m trying to instead embrace all the authentic south FL holiday moments as a way to bring more joy and authenticity into the season. After all, since my children don’t have the memory of a white Christmas to compare the season with, a frog-filled soapy Christmas morning will probably just feel soggy.
Mama’s affirmations 🙏:
“You are doing enough. You are enough.”
“It’s important to have fun, and fun can be hard.”
Thanks to Dr. Becky for these two holiday-themed mantras.
Body image boosts 🚀: FOMO
Here are a few fast tips I’ve absorbed over the last few days while contemplating this topic of FOMO and manufacturing joy:
Often, the surprise of the feeling is the hardest part. Anticipate there might be a disappointment, tiredness, meltdowns, and of course, a rise in body image dissatisfaction this time of year. Then, acknowledge it and know that it will pass and the fun will continue.
Being ungrateful isn’t a thing. We can’t be “un” a feeling. We might be disappointed, and that’s OK. But we didn’t ruin a moment, the day, or the entire Christmas season just because we had an unexpected feeling.
Hold space for hope. It’s what separates the possible from the impossible.
Be silly, even if you have to fake it for a minute.
Play the tape on what it might feel like to experience unexpected feelings —disappointment, body image dissatisfaction, an awkward “you look like you lost weight!” comment — how will that feel in your body? How will you respond? I’ve come up with a prepared phrase if someone asks me if I’ve lost weight — a simple “I’m not sure, I don’t keep track” and move on.
In this interview with Liz Gilbert on the Quitted podcast, she talks about how you need to make space for your life’s purpose to do its work. Liz told a story about how during a rare afternoon of free time, she spontaneously held a stranger’s ladder while he repainted a sign. She only thought to do that because she had nowhere else to be. When he finished she snuck away, and never knew she was there helping keep him steady and safe for 30 minutes. She concludes the story by saying, '“And as I was walking away I thought what if that was the entire purpose of my life? It's just as good of a guess as anything else.” I wonder about the spontaneous moments of joy, meltdowns, and body image struggles I encounter this holiday season. Maybe those are the moments that will stand out and last over the years — not the Froggy Snow Machine. And I figure, maybe I shouldn’t be so focused on creating perfect moments, and instead focus on seeing the ones that come as beautiful and possibly the ones that set my life on its intended course.
My top Christmas in Miami Memories:
The annual Dave Barry Christmas gift guide.
Trying to understand why people wait in lines for Dior at 10 a.m. on a Tues., while checking out the holiday window displays in the Design District.
Queen Elsa meet and greet on Christmas eve at the drag bar.
Multilingual holiday sing-alongs.
The local broadcast commentary on the holiday boat parade.
Sending coconut postcards to friends in the mail.
Seven fishes dinner, and passing out to Bill Murray Christmas special.
Dark rainy afternoon walks to see the neighborhood lights turn on early.
Christmas markets that sell lemonade.
Santa arriving in a camouflage helicopter to meet the kids.
Viscaya all dressed up in holiday decor.
And of course, this is all you really need:
Got more? Drop them in the comments below!