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The other day, I read a short blog post about being trapped in the over-inflated expectations of the holidays, and it really spoke to me.  The moral of the story was basically that the insanity of the holiday season is, of course, stressful and exhausting for everyone.

It’s a lot.  It’s no secret that moms overwhelmingly carry the bulk of the holiday season.   Moms dominate the list making, the recipe finding, the gift buying, the wrapping, the family coordinating, the holiday card mailing, etc.  And don’t forget about Pinterest.   Homemade ornaments, coordinating centerpieces, organic sugar-free cookies.  Are you exhausted yet?

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On top of all of that, we’re constantly evaluating what everyone else is doing (#thanksfacebook) for the holidays and making sure we’re not short-changing our kids or, heaven forbid, creating over indulged monsters.  Is Santa good or bad?  Are the gifts from St. Nick or Mom & Dad?  Did we donate enough to the food bank?  Can we provide more for others?  Should I volunteer for the class parties and miss (yet another) afternoon at work?  Am I doing it right?  Can I be doing more?

It’s almost a-little-bit-maybe-sort-of starting to turn into another battle in the Mommy Wars (trademark every morning talk show that wants to pit us against each other).   Think about it.  It’s a lot.

But, the kicker here, for me anyway, was to recognize how stressful and exhausting it can be for our kids, too.  When you break it down, it’s basically a month-long frenzy of mixed messages, elevated expectations, and uncomfortable situations.

Be good.  Santa’s watching.  Stand up and sing those songs.  Say hello to this stranger.  Wear these clothes that probably itch.  Smile.  Stand still.  Don’t eat those cookies that have been in plain sight for a week.  Stop saying I want.  But tell me what you want.

It’s a lot. So I’m going to say it first.  And then you can say it to someone else:

Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it right, and it’s going to be fantastic.  Relax and let it go.

And now we can let each other off the hook, and confirm that we really truly don’t need to care so much about how someone else does their holidays, or how kick-ass their homemade decorations look, or how surprisingly delicious their organic sugar-free desserts are, or that Santa does or doesn’t visit their house.

And since we have that bit of extra free time to enjoy now that we’re not keeping up with everyone (except the Kardashians), I’m going to suggest that you sit back and actually enjoy all of your hard work.  Stop thinking so much.  If you can take a few things off your plate and forget about them, do it!   Be kind to yourself, take the frenzy down a notch, and be happy.

And don’t worry; there will be plenty of time to start judging each other when we all start dieting on January 1st.

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Also a transplant to New Jersey and Mercer County, Merritt McGlynn is walking a tightrope between career woman and devoted mother: hanging on for dear life with her dishpan hands. Merritt is a mom to two of the most adorable children in Jersey: a darling and spunky 4-year-old and a certifiably insane but heart-melting almost-3-year-old. Married to the always-working "Coach", Merritt tries to maintain some appearance of a work-life balance, and often finds that the scales are usually tipped in one direction or the other - but she’s still trying! In her spare time, if she ever gets any, Merritt would like to read books, travel with her husband, drink margaritas on the deck, and one day, if she’s really lucky, enjoy a phone conversation without interruptions. For now, she’ll settle for 20 minutes of an Audrey Hepburn movie and a diet coke.

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