'Twas the Night Before Christmas (As Retold By a Parent with Small Children)

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'Twas the night before Christmas, and the kids were insane
I suspected a sugar-high from too many candy canes.
The stockings were strewn this way and that,
because the baby had tried to use them as hats.

Only half the decorations went up this year,
because “they will just pull them down”, I had feared.
The tree looked a mess, no ornaments from the waist down
It felt like the Grinch laid waste to our small Christmas town.

The kids were finally all snug in their beds,
with dreams of more candy and toys in their heads,
while my partner snored softly in front of the TV
exhausted from attempting small bike assembly.

So much to do, so little time!
"Is this really how I was spending my prime?"
More food to prepare, more presents to wrap
I wondered if maybe Christmas was not worth all this crap.

But the kids woke up early, no sleep for the weary;
their twinkling eyes and big smiles made me feel a bit teary.
They were amazed at what the nighttime had brought
and their contagious joy was better than I thought.

I watched as my youngest presented his brother
the gift he had chosen, and then opened another.
And another and another until my heart was so full,
oh on my heartstrings, how they tugged and they pulled.

In the glow of the tree and the exchange of gifts,
I knew this moment had erased any “what ifs”.
Being present as my children found joy in the giving
it was enough to make me realize, “This is really living”.

All of the exhaustion, work, and lack of sleep,
at some points it had all made me want to weep.
But oh, these faces, these smiles, these tight little hugs,
it had all been worth it, for these adorable stinker-bugs.

Next year we will do better, do less with more,
but for now, we enjoy it, for they’ve settled the score
with their kisses and giggles! These days will fly by
so what if I forgot to bake the Christmas Pie?

In years to come, they won’t remember each little present,
or that I worked so hard I often felt like a peasant.
They won’t remember if boxes were filled with toys or gloves,
What they will always remember is family, laughter and love.

I’m not alone in these feelings, I know am not
There are many parents who feel a little distraught
at the hustle and bustle of the whole holiday season
and who sometimes need a reminder of the reason,

of what we are celebrating and why we do what we do,
And that not doing so much is okay too!
And when they are grown and look back on Christmases Past,
It’s going to feel like it flew by so very fast.

So tonight if you are headed into an all-night-wrapping spree,
If you are rushing to get presents under the not-so-perfect tree,
Give yourself a break, and through-out all of the fuss,
take time to enjoy the beautiful moments,


 Here's a printable version for your enjoyment!

Here's a printable version for your enjoyment!


Victoria McCollum

Victoria McCollum is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg, in Fredericksburg, Virgina. She resides there with her husband and three precocious sons.