A Parent’s Christmas Dilemma: Gaslight the Children or the Yuletide Log?

Christmas is a holiday many, including myself, prepare for all year long. Between buying the gifts, decorating the house, and preparing the feast, I just get so full of suburban mom Christmas cheer! With so much going on during the holiday, it’s easy to forget the real reason for the season: spending hundreds of dollars to appease our kind and loving capitalist overlords.

Oh, and I guess family bonding is important too. 

Ever since my kids stopped being small and cute, I’ve had next to no use for them. What is their purpose as adults? They don’t garner any Facebook likes, get super mouthy all the time, and are consistently money hungry. Oh, you need to “pay your tuition” so you don’t get “kicked out of school” Jenny? I wasn’t born yesterday. I know a scam when I see one.

Putting these issues aside, I try to be the adult in the family and welcome my children with open arms for the holidays. Despite my efforts, however, the kids become increasingly less eager to participate in the winter festivities. In my little constructed Whoville, my children insist on being a gaggle of Grinches.  I try to keep up the downtime conversations, like asking my daughter why she’s put on so much weight or asking my son if he’s changed his mind about the gay thing yet, but my efforts are always met with such distain!

I think it’s a parent’s job to educate their offspring the cold hard truths about the world, and sometimes that’s a tough pill to swallow. I think of the advice I give to the kids as free Christmas presents, ones far more valuable than iPhones, PS5s, or maternal love. This year, I’m giving Kimberly the gift of knowing that her double major in women’s studies and dance therapy is a useless waste of money. God, make me proud for once and just study something that makes you hate yourself like everyone else.

These problems only get worse when the rest of the family comes over to join in our merriment. I practically have to pull them out of their rooms to join us at the dinner table! It’s like they actively search for ways to make Christmas Eve uncomfortable for everyone. Last year it wasn’t even 10 minutes into the meal before drama erupted. My middle child Gavin started literally blowing up at the dinner table after I forgot to make rolls that catered to his “severe gluten allergy” (as if that’s a real thing!). Kids these days are so sensitive. Dinner isn’t going to stop for a little case of anaphylaxis. Jesus Gavin, when will you learn the world doesn’t revolve around you?

It’s not like the other kids made the rest of dinner any easier. They truly hurt the rest of the family when they don’t even bother hiding the disgust on their faces. Yeah, maybe it was a little weird when Grandma listed off her favorite racial epithets unprompted, and sure, maybe Greg shouldn’t have gotten drunkenly handsy with my kid during white elephant. Was it truly something to cause a scene over? With all that weight you put on, my dear, you should be taking it as a compliment.

It’s like my children don’t even want to earn my love, and it confuses the hell out of me.  To all the parents out there reading this, I can only hope that you don’t have to endure the annual heartbreak that my children inflict on me. It’s absolutely hurtful to know that my children expect me to acknowledge their feelings and individuality when they know how exhausting that is for me. For those with small children, remember to savor these times. Enjoy the candy-striped matching pajamas, Frosty the Snowman movies, the warmth from the yuletide log, and the moments before they learn how to defend themselves in familial conflict. For those like me with adult children, all I can say is good luck, and don’t be afraid to slip the peppermint schnapps in your cocoa to try and forget your failures as a parent.

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