A realistic holiday movie plot

It’s a Saturday afternoon in early December. Mom is tired of dragging the kids between practices and school functions, cooking meals, and keeping a clean house, but she’s happy to set up the decorations for the family holidays. It’s something they’ve been talking about doing that day for weeks.

Yet as she puts up the basement decorations, no one helps her. No one is excited. Her two boys are playing video games in their bedroom, her daughter sitting on the living room sofa is texting her friends and making plans for the night out. Her husband is already outside, trying to untangle the threads of light. Mom’s encouragement to get her kids to ‘have fun’ doesn’t work. She decorates herself.

The following weekend is Christmas cookie baking day. After traveling around town to three different grocery stores to find everything she needs for these family favorite recipes, she realizes that she doesn’t have enough flour. She sends her husband to get a bag. Children – now in their pre-teens – no longer have an interest in this once-favorite annual tradition. Mom decorates the cookies herself.

Gingerbread house decor is now considered lame.

No one wants to watch their favorite vacation movies together anymore.

There will be no family walks around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights.

This is not a Hallmark movie plot, this is the reality.

But there are still presents to buy and faces to light up when kids open their presents on Christmas morning. So mom works hard to find the right gifts, spending more time and money to make her children’s vacations a little more joyful and bright.

She nails it – at least that’s what she thinks. She takes the time to wrap each gift, with a bow and a gift tag. It will be the Christmas I’ve always dreamed of, she told herself.

On Christmas morning, mom gets up long before everyone else. She slides her famous breakfast casserole into the oven and cuts the fruit before everyone wakes up. She turns on all the Christmas lights in the living room, lights candles and lights the holiday tunes before she sits on the couch with her cup of coffee and waits and waits and waits.

Finally, the rest of the family joins her. This is it, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for all year, she thinks.

Children open their gifts. The smiles on their faces are priceless. But as soon as that starts, it’s over and the kids retreat to their bedrooms with their new tech gifts. Now is the time to clean up the mess of paper, tangles and wrappers.

Mom has no respite. It’s time to put that big meal in the oven and clean up before the rest of the family arrive for dinner. Mom will work hard to make all of those perfect side dishes to accompany the main course. And everyone will sit down to the table and she will watch everyone eat, knowing that she has a whole year to recover before starting all over again.

Next year will be easier, she thinks. Next year will be like those vacation movies I see on TV.

– Rachel Brougham is the former Associate Editor of the Petoskey News-Review. You can email him at [email protected].

Andrea G. Henderson