Woman and child eating Christmas dinner


I Find The Holidays Exhausting

Dec 13, 2017

You may not know it to look at me, but I’m a magic maker. I actually come from a long line of merrymakers — conjurers of enchantment who make magical experiences in children’s lives.

As a kid I loved everything about the holidays. And what was not to love? I celebrated in a warm home, with a family who got along. Come Christmas morning, we’d pluck presents from a mountain of gifts that came close to eclipsing one of our two Christmas trees.

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Now that I’m a mom, I want to add some of that Christmas wow factor for my kid. I don’t mean just the gifts, but those little magical memories that will last a lifetime. But between you and me, the whole season sends a chill down my spine. From the moment I hear my first Muzak carol in the grocery store (usually around Halloween), I feel dread at the Herculean task ahead of me. Oh no! Can it really be that time of year again?

The more you take on, the less magic you make.

I vividly recall that initial holiday dinner we hosted at our home. My first clue that things weren’t going to go like a Hallmark holiday was when my toddler took a giant sponge and flushed it down our home’s only toilet. Attending to the toilet delayed getting the turkey in the oven until just before our guests arrived. Next, my dear old grandmother briefly started choking on our overcooked stuffing as my husband and I lobbed distinctly un-Christmas-like insults at each other while serving the meal — all in an effort to celebrate peace on earth.

You know you didn’t exactly rock the holiday feast when your guests are brainstorming about what they could do differently next year as they exit. The hard holiday lesson learned: The more you take on, the less magic you make.

Now that I’ve got a few more holidays as a parent under my belt, I’ve discovered some hacks that get me through the season without completely losing my mind.

Spatchcock that turkey

It tastes great and it's fun to say! Nothing saves Christmas for me more than the discovery of this Spatchcock method. Each year, I ask our butcher to remove the backbone of the turkey and I’m able to pop it in the oven at a high temperature for just over an hour. This usually leads to setting off all the fire alarms in the process, but it’s worth it. No getting up early or doing elaborate math for a beautifully cooked bird.

Slow Cook The Stuffing

No more stuffing the butt of the turkey only to have it end up unevenly cooked. These days, I throw the stuffing in the slow cooker and forget it about it until dinner is served. It’s a game changer that yields plenty of leftovers.

Delegate Dinner

Each Christmas, I tidy up the house and make the turkey and the stuffing. Anything more than that makes me melt down, so I’ve honed my delegation skills. Hot tip: Compliment everyone's dishes so that they feel compelled to bring them each year. No one makes better sweet potato casserole than my brother!

Make Kids Into Magic Makers

I’ve learned to let others help make the magic. While I may have to argue with my kid to clean up her room or vacuum the house, I seem to get more traction when it comes to polishing silver, wrapping gifts or decorating the house. It gets her into the spirit of the holidays and saves me from losing my elfin’ mind.

Gifts That Are Good Enough

I stopped worrying about buying the perfect gift. Sometimes the thought really does count. So when I’m out of time or ideas, a gift card is my best friend.

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Since becoming a mom, I’ve come to the realization that there’s no sense in nearly killing myself to make the holidays extra special for my family. My daughter will remember the feelings the holiday gave her, not how perfectly we decorated the tree or how tender the turkey was.

And while I may have some tricks up my sleeve, and I’m starting to pull back a bit, I still have two birthdays to celebrate before New Year’s day. Because I am, at the end of the day, a magic maker...

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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