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The race is on

Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror, and as I heard a woman remark the other day as I ran into the supermarket to pick up a few things, “the race is on.” Oh my, just hearing those words makes me get all knotted up inside, because the woman was referring to the Christmas season. That’s the race that’s on.

Carole Townsend

Remember when you were a kid, and Christmas was sitting far off and tantalizing, a whole two or three days away? Oh, the minutes ticked by with iceberg-like, slow deliberation. It seemed the Big Day would never arrive. 

I miss those days. Now, when the calendar pages flip over to reveal the month of JULY, I think to myself, “Christmas is just six months away.” I make note of how impossibly fast time flies by, and I marvel at the thought that even though it’s 90-plus-degrees outside, Christmas will be here before you know it.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I love the Christmas season. I love seeing our children more often than we do at any other time throughout the year. Yes, I love the food and the friends and festivities. I’m coming to learn though, that it isn’t about the busy-ness, it’s about the downtime. It’s about cuddling up on the sofa with my husband during a stolen night with just us (and the dogs), and watching an old Christmas classic. Doesn’t matter which one; it’s just being there with him (and the dogs).

Our children are all young adults now. There’s no rushing to get this toy or that, hiding the loot and wrapping it when they’re not looking. They have embarked on their own lives, so the most precious gift we receive during the holidays is that of their time. I miss their being little sometimes, but oh, I do not miss the craziness that used to be our Christmas seasons. With school and sports and work, how did we get it all done? It’s all a blur, frankly, so I’m not sure.

Now, I feel that we have the best of both worlds. Why? Well, as I may have mentioned a time or two before, we have a two-year-old granddaughter. The urgency and busy-ness we brought to this glorious season is behind us as a couple and as parents, and for that I am grateful. But the fun of having a young child in the house – and as often as possible – is wonderful. Are there secret presents stashed here and there? Sure, but since she doesn’t live with us (and since she’s only two), we don’t have to be too clever with hiding them. 

I’ll tell you something else I’ve noticed, and oh, if I could share this with just one young mom out there, I’d feel I’ve done a pretty good day’s work. Relax. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’ll give you an example. I used to build and decorate a Gingerbread House with the children every year. I wanted it to turn out just like the lovely picture on the box, and I expected my children to want the same thing. But they were children, so of course they wanted to eat some of the decorations and icing instead of putting it on the house. My son was not as detail-oriented as my daughter (and as I), so he’d glop on the icing and shove gumdrops wherever he could find room for them. My daughter wanted straight, precise lines, shrubs that looked like shrubs, neat brickwork and straight lines of lights. Needless to say, we all ended up stressed and irritated but the next year, we’d do it all over again. 

When I enlisted my children’s help to wrap presents, I still felt the need to supervise – all in the name of neatness. You can imagine how stressed we all were. Why did I do it? Why did the little things matter so much? I can’t answer that except to say that I’ve both matured and mellowed and now, I couldn’t care less about neatness and straight lines. My daughter and granddaughter built a Gingerbread House last week, and it’s adorable because they made it, not because it’s perfect.

The bottom line is this: moms, relax. Enjoy them now, while they’re little, because I promise you that tomorrow they’re grown. Maybe you’ll have grandchildren, little perfect beings that I call “the perfect do-over,” but don’t wait until then. Ease off on the accelerator a bit; you’ll be surprised at what you’ve been missing.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on, Barnes &, and at When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and living in her beloved South.