December 17, 2013 by
Photography by Natalie Jensen Photography

As kids, we got to live the fantasy. But now, as adults, it’s up to us to create the fantasy of the man in the red suit and the wonderment of one’s faith during the holiday.

Being a single parent adds a unique, stressful, and pressure-filled layer all its own. Whether we want to make up for the fact that it’s only one adult doing all of the traditions, decorating, and planning to create those once in a lifetime memories, or even creating a substitute holiday because the kids won’t be there for the actual day—it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to get through the season.

Last year, I knocked it out of the park when it came to Christmas. We went to church Christmas Eve, had the family over for our traditional spaghetti dinner, and I bought everything on my children’s Christmas lists. And guess what? The day after Christmas, I still felt a little disappointed, like something was missing. And might I add, so did my kids. This actually got me angry, but then I had a revelation. Why did I kill myself to do all of these things if it goes unnoticed and unappreciated?

I began to take notice of what did stand out to my kids, and I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t the most expensive item they got Christmas morning, but my homemade coupons for extra privileges, the scavenger hunt with cheap items that Grandma does every year, and the cash in the bottom of their stockings. Could it be that the most important and memorable things about the holidays were the heartfelt and thoughtful touches? Lesson learned.

I am relieved that the holidays can be just as special without all the hoopla.

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