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Can Mom get a little Holiday Recognition?

Christine Pafumi
Dec. 3, 2012

This mom shares how she smoothly sails through the holidays but her efforts sometimes go unnoticed as part of the Care.com Interview Series

When it comes to the holidays with a toddler and twin one-year-olds, Stephanie Bernaba, Momma Be Thy Name blogger, seems to have it all down - if only her family would realize it!

We talked to this holiday-loving mama about how Christmas cheer begins the moment Thanksgiving ends (hello, Mariah Carey Christmas Album!), why she considers wrapping presents a lost art, how she'll never give up having a real tree, and why she wouldn't mind disabling TV commercials for the entire season. See our full interview for a glimpse into the holidays at the Bernaba home.

How do you feel about the holiday season?

I love baking, so just after Thanksgiving (and maybe even a little before), I get a little, um, enthusiastic (i.e. one year I went to four different stores looking for particular holiday sprinkles). My husband and I enjoy shopping, but we are often at odds about the wrapping, as I had a seasonal job in college gift wrapping shoppers' purchases. Unfortunately, he doesn't share my love of meticulous wrapping. We haven't had to do so much [traveling] and I'm perfectly fine with that. Can you imagine traveling with three toddlers? I'll pass on that as long as I can.

With the holidays come some great traditions, can you share some of your family's favorites?

My mother and I have a rather ridiculous tradition of rushing home immediately after Thanksgiving dinner and firing up the old CD player with Mariah Carey's Christmas album, playing "All I Want for Christmas is You" at a substantial volume, and dancing around the house. You know, kick off the holiday season on the right foot. Literally.

My husband and I travel to Mystic, Connecticut every summer and pick out a few family ornaments at an ornament store in a shopping village, then we tuck the new ornaments gently away until we decorate our tree. And I know what you're thinking - a tree with three toddlers?! Yes. We're nuts. But a tree was one compromise we were unwilling to make. We just keep it as far out of reach from the kids as possible.

And our newest tradition, creating holiday light displays, has grown somewhat in intensity over the past few years. Sure, my husband's no Chevy Chase, but when we start decorating the outside of our house, you know it.

Check out more of our favorite bloggers' holiday traditions »

Some traditions can sometimes become the trickiest lies (ahem, Santa Clause, Elf on a Shelf etc.). How do you handle this in your home and have you gone to any extremes to keep these traditions/beliefs alive?

Luckily we're still at that magical point in our children's lives where they have no idea who Santa is. And I intend to keep it that way, as long as humanly possible.

If you spend time in the kitchen over the holiday season, do you have any stay sane tips?

At the risk of sounding like a terrible parent, drop the kids off with a relative if there's large-scale cooking or baking to be done. Less mess, less distraction, and a cleaner final product (especially with cookies and other baked goods). My husband and I also invested in a stand-up freezer that we keep in the garage. It serves to both a) store items that can be made in advance, allowing me to work on what I can when I can, and b) keep sweet treats away from prying eyes (and grubby little fingers) until the time arrives to enjoy them.

Ding dong: In-laws/guests are here! What does this mean for you in particular? What's your favorite/least favorite part about having family/friends together?

I don't know about your family, but mine has sort of let go of much of the magic of the holidays. I'm the one who dresses up the kids, gets portraits, makes trays upon trays of cookies, and tries to infuse as much holiday cheer as I can. My family, on the other hand - well, you're lucky if a few of them wear red sweaters. Also, sometimes all the effort put into preparing for the holidays goes unnoticed and/or unappreciated. Those are the bummers for me.

Do your kids make holiday wish lists? How do you keep a handle on spoiling them?

They don't ask for much - yet - so we're sailing on smooth seas in this area. As far as spoiling children, we tell our family exactly what to get the children, and they generally comply. Except for my dad, who gets my son whatever he wants, even stuff he didn't know he wanted. We have to keep an eye on that one.

How do you shop for the holidays?

I've started as early as October, but I generally choose not to think about the holiday season until we've gotten through Thanksgiving. My family is a huge fan of fall. My husband and I go a little crazy with fall activities and decorations. After that, Christmas, I'm all yours. Though I REFUSE to shop Black Friday under ANY circumstance. A discounted TV is not worth my or anyone else's life. Besides, Cyber Monday sounds so cozy, doesn't it?

What is the ONE reason you really hate to love the holidays?

Hands down, the commercials. There's nothing more grating than a kitschy, frequently-repeated commercial featuring 90's hip-hop and D-List celebrities peddling slippers. I just can't handle it.

Stephanie Bernaba is the writer and mother behind the popular blog Momma Be Thy Name. A former post-graduate level behavioral health clinician, clinical supervisor and college instructor, Stephanie traded in the glitz and glamour of human services for stay-at-home motherhood. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, toddler, one-year-old twins and three cats. Find Stephanie on Twitter and Facebook.

For more holiday stories, check out the Care.com Interview Series: Why I Love to Hate the Holidays »

Photo used with permission from Stephanie Bernaba.

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