Most of us grew up with photos of a Norman Rockwell holiday. Decorating cookies, the family Thanksgiving, unwrapping gifts and sipping hot cocoa while outside snow lightly falls.
Our family isn't like that...not even close.
Over the years hubby and I have learned the secret between having the "perfect" family activity and our reality - lower our expectations. We realized early on that high expectations were getting us into trouble. Sit down with four little kids for a fun family evening of board games and before we knew it everyone was yelling and jumping up and down over who was winning Candyland. Everything is a competition...and I mean everything. Realistic expectations allow us to laugh when things get crazy rather than feel frustrated by a bit of chaos.
Today's annual gingerbread decorating extravaganza is a great example. When the kids were younger they were very much into creating the perfect house or at the very least spending hours trying. This morning was more about creating dying snowmen out of marshmallows, toothpicks and red icing and seeing who could eat the most candy. I could feel my frustration rising until my 14 year old looked at me and said, "This is awesome Mom! I'm having a great time!"
I smiled and exhaled.
Did it look like the picture in my head? No, but I think my picture was a little askew. It's not about everyone working quietly, minding their manners while Bing Crosby croons in the background. It's about being who we are, about laughing together and creating memories my kids will cherish.
We may not be the poster family for a Norman Rockwell, but it's good...it's very good.