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When you feel like a half-lit Christmas tree

I stumbled upon a somewhat festive Christmas tree at a McDonald’s in between my son’s two basketball games earlier this week. While the holiday decor and illuminated beauty of this tree did not go unnoticed, the fact that only a third of the lights were working also stood out to me.  

I get that tree

As much as I love December and all the festivities, celebrations, declarations, and rampant life we mortals manage to stuff into a mere 31 days at the end of each year, I am already exhausted. Half-lit. That’s me.  

After standing in a never-ending line at the UPS store today, only to be told that my free shipping would not be free because it was not packaged correctly, I hung my head and went back to the car where my children were complaining about the length of time I was gone. Apparently, they nearly starved.  

In efforts to soothe their weary souls, I decided to visit the Braum’s conveniently located across the parking lot, since nothing cures mailing woes like ice cream (trust me, I needed it more than the kids). Only, today I happened to land behind a man in the drive through who proceeded to chain smoke a whole pack of cigarettes while ordering the entire contents of the menu for his family of 27.

I may be exaggerating just a touch, but when I finally made it to the order window and asked what the hold-up was, I was informed the man in front of me had ordered a “massive amount of food”. “So, you’re saying it’s gonna be awhile if I order?” I warily asked the drive-through attendant. After a nonchalant laugh at my expense, the robotic voice said…”Uh. Yah.”. So we abandoned the whole mission and went home to eat whatever was not expired in the nearly empty pantry.   

Everyone is stressed out

Students are stressed to the max with finals. Teachers are trying to hold it together in classrooms full of sugared-up and powered-down kids. The post office and mailing venues are just ridiculous. I am honestly not sure if half of my Christmas gifts will arrive on time because they are stuck on a barge somewhere in the Atlantic.  

The bright spot of my day was a red beret I ordered from Amazon. Decidedly the perfect opportunity to wear it to my son’s karate class, as my workout hair was simply not suitable for public. As I tried it on, feeling ultra-stylish and French-y, my youngest son, Waylan, sauntered into my bedroom, scrunched up his little boy nose, and declared that I looked like a Russian soldier. So much for the sexy French dame. Russians are stylish too, right?  

I am headed to the third event out of a (literally) seven event week. All for my kids’ extra-curricular activities. WHY do we do this to ourselves, Mommas? Why do we burn the candle at both ends so we end up burned out, barely hanging on, half-lit like the McDonald’s Christmas tree in small town, Missouri?  

Burn out is real

I will tell you why. It is what moms (and dads) do. We do it for our children. We want to give them more than we had. We want to provide new experiences, exhilarating entertainment, ways to socialize and engage their creatively expanding minds. Do we get burned out? Absolutely! Do we feel half-lit? You betcha…. 


Even half-lit Christmas trees still shine in the darkness. They still display a shred of holiday magic. No matter how many bulbs have burned out, how many cylinders are running on Empty, we still manage to dig deep from the depths of our weary souls and show up for those ornery little people we claim as our own.  

Whether you are half-lit or shining ultra-bright this holiday season, remind yourself that whether you hear a simple ‘Thank You’ or a frustrated ‘You’re the meanest mom ever!’, your light will never cease to shine in the eyes of those precious littles you hold close. 

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