Home / Holidays / The Holidays I am Santa Claus, the elves and Christmas magic And now I'm tired. By Jessica Cushman Johnston Updated November 10, 2022 Jess Johnson at WonderOak I am the Santa, the elves and the magic. I am the delicious smells, the stuffed bellies and the Christmas spirit. I am the twinkle lights, the clean bathrooms and the mistletoe hanging in the doorway. I am the stories, the advent calendars and the reminding what Christmas is really about. I am the greeting cards, I am the coordinator of grandparents and cousins, I am the Christmas pajamas for the night before. I am the traditions, I am the baker for school sales, I am the buyer of last-minute presents that were forgotten. I am mom. And now, I’m tired. Related: I’m not doing the ‘Pinterest mom’ thing this holiday season—and I refuse to feel guilty for it It’s not something my husband or my kids put on me, it’s my own deal. It’s also a tinsel-covered baton handed down from generation to generation of women. As a kid, I just thought the warm fuzzy feelings I felt on Christmas morning “happened.” Now I know that the magic happens because someone is working hard, and now that someone is me. The other day I stumbled upon someone’s Christmas list of to-do’s online and the list practically gave me an anxiety attack. It wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before, and it wasn’t anything that hasn’t been on my own mental list. I also know that some people thrive off of powering through the holidays like a Christmas fairy godmother. If that’s you, I salute you, but I’d rather hide under my bed than do all of that. Related: 10 holiday hacks to save you time—and stress It caused me to think, what is important to me and my family and what isn’t? I’m sentimental. I love to see my kids’ eyes light up when they see the tree. I LOVE buying gifts for my kids and I’m possibly more excited than them when it comes time to rip them open. It makes my heart explode like Will Ferrell with Christmas spirit. I love watching Christmas movies and eating cookies with sprinkles. I love Christmas drinks and Christmas food. Christmases were always special growing up and I want to recreate that magic for my kids, but I don’t want to sacrifice my presence for facilitating a perfect holiday. I don’t want to work myself so hard I make myself sick (I’ve done that.) I want to be there too. I want to enjoy it. I want to breathe it in and laugh because I’m not stressed about getting the floor swept before people arrive. I think that actually matters to my kids more than if I made homemade cinnamon rolls. Related: 3 simple steps to make setting boundaries easy this holiday season The gift I want to give myself this year is the gift of saying NOPE. The gift I want to give my family is the gift of saying NOPE. The gift I want to give is the gift of myself being present instead of stressed. We are beyond the era of Susie-homemaker. We get to choose what we will and won’t do. We don’t have to go to every party. We don’t have to be a part of every gift exchange. We don’t have to make every dish under the sun for Christmas dinner. We don’t have to go to every house. We don’t have to rush our own Christmas morning to get to the grandparents. We don’t have to buy our kids everything they want or what their friends might be getting. Related: We’re going to have a messy house this holiday season–and I’m not sorry about it We don’t have to make that last minute run to Target (speaking to myself here) because we’re suddenly worried there’s not enough stocking stuffers. We don’t have to send a gift to every person we love. I LOVE GIVING GIFTS, but when it starts to become a financial and mental strain I don’t think it’s worth it. It’s missing the point. I have no plans to be the Grinch or to cancel my favorite parts of Christmas because it’s too much work, but I do plan to give myself permission to say NOPE to the things that don’t bring me (or my family) joy. Christmas magic is really about being together, isn’t it? It’s about the cozy morning (or evening) filled with generosity and thoughtfulness. Maybe it’s handmade gifts, maybe it’s not. It’s about staying in your pajamas as long as possible. It’s about having strong coffee because you stayed up too late wrapping. It’s about being present. If you want to go to the parties then do that. If you want to make an extravagant dinner then do that. But the magic is what we make it, and we get to choose. I surrender to these holidays, whatever they may look like. They will not be perfect, because, folks, I’m no longer going to try and make them that way. Merry Christmas Mamas, let’s enjoy the holidays this year. A version of this post originally appeared on Wonderoak. It has been updated.