The Grinch, I Mean Mom, Who Stole Christmas

This post is part of my 29 Days of Giving Campaign.  You can see the rest of the posts in this series here.

You know that saying "No good deed goes unpunished?"  I really don't care for it.  Especially when it ends up being true.

I am all about being organized for Christmas.  I printed out a planning guide.  Mike and I made a budget, taking into account every possible holiday related expense.  I've had homemade gifts planned since early October, some of them already made.  I made a gift list, detailing every purchase, down to what would go in the stockings.  I was pretty pleased with myself, patting myself on the back for what a stress-free holiday we would have.

Last night, while Mike and Elena were at the movies, I spread my Christmas planner out on the table, filling in some details on the holiday calendar.  I got distracted by a phone call, and then a few minutes later Mike and Elena walked in the door.  Elena sat next to me and we talked in detail about the movie.  

I'm not sure when it hit me that she was distracted, looking at something rather than answering my questions.  Mike and I both realized it at the same time – she was staring at the Christmas gift list, and had been for a few minutes.  

Every single thing we planned to buy her was right there, before her eyes.  Even (somebody please hold me) the gifts from Santa.  I gasped, and flipped the sheet over.  She stared at me for what seemed like an eternity, her eyes pleading with me that she didn't just see what she thought she saw.  And then she cried.  And cried and cried.  

"Christmas is ruined!  Now I won't be surprised!"

Now, I've had a lot of moments as a mother I'd like to forget.  I've had what I consider to be some pretty epic mom fails.  This makes them feel like little blips on the radar, akin to ordering chocolate milk when your kid wanted lemonade.  I feel absolutely horrible.

Mike and I got her settled down.  Really it was Mike.  I was pretty useless, too busy beating myself up for being so careless, and yet so damn organized.  We talked about how there will still be surprises, and how Christmas isn't only about the presents.

But yeah, when you're eight?  It pretty much is about the presents.  It's about the magic and the surprise and Santa.  I know it will all turn out ok in the end.  She'll be fine, and we are blessed to have these kinds of "problems" to deal with, versus wondering how we'll put food on the table let alone Christmas gifts.

But for now I still feel awful, like I ruined Christmas and then went out and kicked some puppies for good measure.  So be honest with me, what would you do now (taking into consideration that the majority of gifts have already been purchased)?   We're gonna have to buy this kid a kitten, aren't we?

Today I Gave:  Away my child's Christmas innocence!!  I kid, kind of.  No, today I let Mike sleep in.  He's had a horrible time lately being able to sleep in.   His body just wants to wake up at 6:15 like it's a work day.  This morning I made sure to hop out of bed at the first sign of Eli stirring, and turned on as much white noise as possible.  He made it until nearly 8 a.m.  

Today I Received:  The gift of forgiveness.  I don't know if Elena's really over it, or if she's just putting on her game face for me.  She knows I'm so upset about the whole situation.  She didn't say a word today and was as chipper as ever.  We spent some time alone together this evening, browsing at the bookstore.  It was nice to hang out and just listen to her chatter away.  She's a good kid, that one.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Honestly? I’d go out of my way to be sure there was some awesome surprise from Santa I hadn’t thought of yet. Wow – that’s a tough one. I’m pretty much the queen of Mom Fails, though, so don’t beat yourself up.

  2. Erika Brown says:

    ok…could you “sell” some of the things on your list to grandparents to “buy”…I know we kind of provide our parents with a list of “thumbs up” gifts to get for the kids…then get a couple of new things not on the list to be from Santa? If she knows what’s from you…not really as big of a deal. Just throwing out a suggestion! Don’t beat yourself up! The year Peyton found out about Santa I had her help pick things out for David and Ethan’s stockings and that helped ease the blow a little that year.

  3. Elena was going to find out that you and Mike are Santa at some point. It was likely going to be at home. You were never going to be ready for it (unless she were 15 or something). Well, that time is now, she found out at home, and none of you are ready for it. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal. Really. You feel shitty and she feels shitty but, in the end, you have love and family and (most importantly?) presents. Maybe you could ask her why the gifts would be better if they came from a stranger instead of her parents…? Your daughter is smart and resilient and you are a well-intentioned yet fallible adult, AKA a normal parent.
    My vote is that you not cave to the idea that you “owe” her more than you planned to buy. It seems flawed to me that her material reward is your punishment (and vice versa).

  4. So sorry Angie! My son has found 2 of my receipts from Target already (with his gifts on it)!
    If it were me, I would return most of the gifts purchased and start over. Since it seems being surprised is what is most important to her, I would give that gift back to her.
    I also like the suggestion of grandparents “buying” the other gifts. Going the extra mile to surprise her will pay off greatly. Elena is always going to remember seeing that list…but she can also always remember how much her mom was still able to surprise her that Christmas!
    Hang in there!

  5. Mary Lyman says:

    Situations happen for a reason and I try to see what the lesson God is teaching me at that very moment. Maybe Elana will see how hard her Mom and Dad have worked so that she may have all the beautiful gifts that other children may not receive on Christmas. When she gets up on Christmas morning she will still believe like we all do. Jesus is born again in us every year. That is the beauty of Christmas!!

  6. Erin Stephan says:

    Thanks for being the one to go through this first. I always thought it would be Evelyn before Elena b/c Elena is so much more of a dreamer than Evelyn, and I dreaded that Evelyn would ruin it for Elena. Now I can come crying to you when my baby figures out that there’s no Santa Clause and you can tell me I’ll live through it… and that there’s still a baby left that believes.

  7. That's a great idea, Erika.  My mom would probably give that a big thumbs up, too, since she's not a big fan of shopping around the holidays.

  8. The funny thing is, looking back, I'm not sure she made the connection that the "Santa" category meant we are actually Santa.  I think she thinks it just means we have some means of communication with Santa and therefore know what he's bringing her.  That being said, I'm actually okay with her figuring out that part of the equation.  I think the bigger disappointment, on both sides, is that she now knows the majority of the things she's getting for Christmas.  But you're right, in the grand scheme of things it's really not that big of a deal.  And I won't be returning everything or buying a whole slew of new things to make up for it.  It's one of those crappy life lessons for both of us, and we'll just move on and still enjoy all the magic of the holidays.  Should be a pretty amusing video on Christmas morning,

  9. Ugh, you're not the first to suggest returning things.  Unfortunately, the things we purchased were pretty well thought out and will mean a lot to her.  I just can't quite bring myself to return them and purchase new things that, while they will surprise her on Christmas morning, won't hold her interest for long.  That being said, one or two things will still be a surprise and I think we can do some rearranging to throw her off some more.
    *Sigh* These kids are getting too smart for our old tactics!

  10. Oh man. That totally sucks. I mean, yeah, there are worse things, but for now, that totally sucks. Sorry that her surprises got ruined.
    At least you didn’t say, “Well that’ll teach you to read things that don’t belong to you!” Bright side?

  11. Sadly, that was totally my first response.  Thankfully, Mike was right there and earned his Parenting Moment of the Year Award.  Before I could fully voice that gut reaction, he stepped in and steered us in another direction.  So yeah, total bright side.

  12. Oh, Angie! To keep the surprise of Christmas, perhaps you could make a scavenger hunt for Elena to find her gifts. Or do what Tim’s parents did one year for his “big gift” – hide it, tie a long string to it, wind the string through the house in a zigzag path, and have the other end of the string waiting for her with instructions.