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Merry Christmas To All But Mom

Merry Christmas To All But Mom

In the 2020 SNL skit "Christmas Morning," Kristen Wiig portrays a mom who feels let down upon unwrapping a robe as her sole Christmas gift. The sketch humorously delves into the stark contrast between her

family members receiving thoughtful and exciting presents while she enthusiastically opens her single, less thrilling gift. Despite the comedic tone of the skit, it resonates with many moms who, year after year, find themselves in the relatable situation of being the only one with an empty stocking. The mom in this skit attempts to conceal her disappointment with forced enthusiasm, showcasing the bittersweet reality that, despite her own letdown, she is determined not to spoil the magical experience for everyone else.

"The joy is threaded with sadness- the knowledge that it is another year where you feel unseen, another year of your own stocking being a reflection of how you feel- empty. "

The holidays are a time of joy, festivities, and utter chaos. As the lights twinkle, and the carols play on a loop, behind the scenes many moms find themselves grappling with a silent struggle. It's the season where their own needs and wishes take a back seat, buried beneath endless to-do lists. In the midst of the holiday ‘cheer’, moms are silently navigating the intricate dance of meeting everyone else's expectations while their own desires fade into the background. Mom’s meticulous plan and shop, ensuring that each family member receives a thoughtful token of love. Yet, in the process, their own wish list remains untouched, buried beneath everyone else's.

From orchestrating the perfect photo for sending out Christmas cards, to meticulously planning out holiday events, the pressure to create lasting memories can be overwhelming. No one talks about the insurmountable emotional labor that accompanies the season; as it is often a mom’s love and dedication that make Christmas magical.

As a therapist (and a mom myself), I hear about this struggle every year. I believe many moms experience the love-hate dynamic that comes with the holidays— it is a festive tango of joy and resentment. On one hand, there's an undeniable joy in witnessing the magic in their kids' faces as they unwrap presents.. Yet, on the flip side, there's an undercurrent of dread fueled by expectations and the unspoken pressure to make everything happen. The joy is threaded with sadness- the knowledge that it is another year where you feel unseen, another year of your own stocking being a reflection of how you feel-- empty.

Let's acknowledge the elephant in the room- the real struggle lies not in the lack of expensive or fancy gifts, but in the desire for their partner (or spouse) to equally play a part in the holiday magic making , to truly comprehend their hearts. Moms yearn for a gesture, any gesture, that reflects an understanding of their hopes and needs. It's not about the grandeur; it's about the acknowledgment, the effort, and the tangible demonstration that says, "I see you, I appreciate you, and I'm here for you." In this paradoxical experience with Christmas, moms simply wish for their partners to unwrap the gift of understanding and to participate in the holiday magic in a way that reflects genuine love and appreciation.

I also want to be conscious of families that do not fit this mold. This specific exploration delves into the intricate dynamics of relationships where moms have a partner or spouse involved, shedding light on the nuanced challenges they encounter. However, I want to acknowledge that there are many other family situations and experiences that have unique and similar hurdles of their own, and their experiences are equally significant and deserving of understanding and support.

At the true core of this post, the message I want to send is this: You matter. Your needs matter. It is ok to want the people in your family to SEE you. It is OK to love the magic the holiday brings and also feel hurt by the lack of care that you get in return. This issue is multi-layered and complex and one size does not fit all or represent all. Your unmet needs and unfulfilled wishes are not invisible; they are valid, and ultimately you are allowed to say something about it. I always encourage moms to communicate the stressors to their spouses/partners, but I also recognize that depending on the relationship dynamic, this may not be an easy or even

a safe conversation. Whatever the outcome is, the reality is that it is OK to want to be seen during this season.

A Call To Action: To the partners who may have found themselves on the other side of the holiday equation- a genuine and thoughtful gesture does not need to be grand or extravagant—it's the intention that truly matters. Take a moment to reflect on what resonates with your spouse's heart, what says “ this reminds me of you”, and what makes them feel seen and appreciated. It could be a handwritten note expressing your love, a planned cozy night in with their favorite movie and snacks, or even a simple yet meaningful token that aligns with their interests. The key is to take the reins and proactively plan a gesture that says, "I value you, and I've put thought into making this moment special for you." Do not put the effort on her to figure out what should be in her own stocking. She has already done that for everyone else. So, partners, spouses- let's make a commitment this holiday season—a call to action to go beyond the last-minute scramble and create a heartfelt experience from start to finish. Because in the end, it's the effort, the consideration, and the love infused into the gesture that truly make the magic of the season come alive.

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