Christmas in the Trenches :: One Mom’s Perspective on the Not So Perfect Holiday Season


It seems like this time of year all we see on social media are pictures of everyone else’s “perfect” holiday season. There are the beautiful Christmas family portraits, the freshly baked and elegantly decorated Christmas cookies, and the perfectly decorated Christmas trees and houses. 

There’s nothing wrong with all of that, of course. But the problem is that, as moms, we often tend to play the comparison game with ourselves. We may think, “My house doesn’t look like that.” Or, “I can’t get my kids to sit still for five seconds, let alone to take a gorgeous family photo.” 

The holidays can be a difficult time for many. It can be very stressful and overwhelming. As moms, we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure our family has the most amazing and perfect Christmas ever. But, the fact is, it’s just not always going to be possible. And, you know what? That’s OK. 

My family’s Christmas this year is anything but “perfect.” It’s not even what we would consider normal. Not by a long shot. But it’s the situation we are in, and there’s no getting around it. 

Here’s why things are different for us this year…

In October we discovered that there was mold in our house. When mold is discovered in your house, it has to be removed because you could become sick from it otherwise. But removing it is no small process. The mold company has to tear down the walls and take out the insulation during the process of getting rid of the mold. 

The company told us we could stay in the house while they were working in the downstairs area. They taped it all off with plastic, and we were living just in the upstairs of our house for a full week. Since we had no kitchen, we had to eat out. Then it came time to do the downstairs … we had to move out of the house completely and stay in a hotel for two weeks. 

It was a nightmare. The mold company kept finding more and more mold (so they said) and tore apart more of our house then they originally said they would. Most of the house was without insulation and sheet rock, including both full baths.

But here’s what happens when you have to have mold removed. The mold company comes in and tears your house apart, but they don’t put it back together. So, after they were done, our homeowner (we rent our house) had to find a contractor who could come in and start rebuilding the walls, replace the showers in both bathrooms, paint, and put in new floors (the homeowner figured they’d put new floors in since everything else was being redone). 

Long story short … there were issues finding a good contractor, and then issues with the contractor they did find. On top of that, there were also issues with the drywall company, and delay after delay. The homeowners actually drove down here from Connecticut twice to help do some of the work themselves. 

It’s been a VERY SLOW ongoing project since October, and it’s still not done. And, in all reality, probably won’t be completely done until at least February. 

So, here we are with Christmas just days away, and all of the rooms in my house look like this…

The painter (yes, painter singular…) is starting December 17. He says that even though it’s only him, that he can get the job done fast. We will see. I’m not too confident in that, but hopefully he will prove me wrong. 

So, all of our rooms are being prepped for painting. That means all of the furniture is shoved to the middle of each room. We’ve also had to empty the closets out and find a place to put all of that stuff. Our garage has never been so full. Oh, and did I mention that half the lights in the house have been taken down because some of the ceilings were also redone? Yep. Our kitchen is currently being lit by a camping spotlight. 

In other words, there is no Christmas tree up in our house. No nativity scene. There’s no shepherd searching for the baby Jesus around our house. No advent calendar. No stockings hanging up. There is absolutely nothing. Well, there’s a HUGE mess in every room. But there is nothing that resembles Christmas. Nothing at all. 

Since we were living in a hotel for two weeks and without a functioning kitchen for almost four weeks, I haven’t even baked many Christmas cookies. That’s something I normally do starting in October and then I freeze them. Not this year.

I also usually send out picture Christmas cards that I make on Shutterfly and create a yearly picture calendar for us and our families and give them as Christmas gifts. Didn’t do that this year either.

With all the stress of the house renovation, I just couldn’t handle it all mentally. Throughout this process I’ve had multiple panic attacks and countless days where I’ve cried. It’s been a lot to handle. 

So when you look at my Instagram account and Facebook page, you will most definitely not see any pictures of our “perfect” family Christmas. Because it’s simply not that year for us. 

The reason I’m writing this isn’t to get pity from anyone. I don’t need sympathy or well intended comments about how “It’ll be better next year.” Or, “At least you’ll have a whole new house by the time it’s all over.” 

I’m writing this post because I know there are other families out there just like us. Other families who aren’t posting pictures on social media of their Christmas decorations and celebrations because their situation this year doesn’t allow for it. And I want all of you to know that you are not alone.

It may feel like you’re the only one not having that “perfect” Christmas, but that’s not true.

There are so many more people out there in the same situation. We just don’t see that on social media because no one wants to post their struggles. They just want everyone to see the “good stuff” so that it seems like they have it all together. But no one has it ALL together. And the more we remember that, the better. 

Fortunately for those of us with the “not so perfect Christmas” this year, Christmas isn’t just about decorations, cookies, gingerbread houses, Christmas stockings, and presents.

As Dr. Seuss said, “Maybe Christmas … doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

What does your “not so perfect holiday season” look like this year? Share in the comments. We’d love to stand in solidarity with you!


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