December is the busiest month of the year for many mothers.
From mailing Christmas cards to holiday decorating to shopping for gifts and planning holiday gatherings, it's a time of nonstop to-do lists that never seems to end. And it all magically happens in the few hours available when we are not working.
"We're doing outside lights again? Right? The neighbors have already done theirs," a child reminds me as she takes a momentary break from watching Netflix on her iPad to look up at me.
I had thought we might be able to get away without doing it this year. Isn't a wreath on the door enough?
I try to strategically prepare for this time every year, starting earlier and aiming to be more organized, but it still never fails to be an overwhelming month. I longingly recall Christmas 2012 when we skipped the whole thing and headed to a warm, sunny destination, trading in white twinkle lights for white sandy beaches and the Christmas blues for blue skies and blue water.
But, truth be told, we do it all for one reason - our children. The magic of Christmas is part of the rich tapestry of a family's history.
The holiday traditions, like the threads of a firmly woven quilt, are deeply embedded in their memories in the same way that other milestones, like birthdays, help define their journey to adulthood. The hope is that later in life, they will fondly reflect upon their childhood traditions and create some with their own families.
So, as hard as we try, we need to make peace with the chaos the month brings. We need to find small spaces for reflection, moments of joy and a depth of gratitude for the opportunity to shape the narrative our children will some day share with their children.
Yes, there will be bright lights, shiny wrapped gifts and tasty holiday desserts, but these are the merely the trappings of memories. Most importantly, if we are lucky, there will be unforgettable moments shared.
Oh, and one more thing, one tired mom ...
Amanda is the mom of two, reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.