In her all-new book, Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays, New York Times bestselling author Jill Smokler and other Scary Mommy Nation contributors talk all of the highs and lows of mothering and parenthood during the holiday season. Keep reading for an excerpt from the book, and a note from Jill on the charity that the proceeds will go toward supporting. Be sure to pick up a copy today, on sale now exclusively from Pocket Star!

 

CHRISTMAS MOURNING

 I love Christmas.

I love decorating gingerbread houses and consuming days’ worth of calories in eggnog alone.

I love the elegant glow of white lights and the tacky glare of the old-school colored ones.

I love elves and I love Rudolph.

I love watching It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.

I love the smell of real Christmas trees and the ease of fake ones.

I love the wrapping paper and the gift swaps and the crowded mall sales.

I love it.

I love it all.

Sure, you may say. Me too. That’s why they call it the most wonderful time of the year!

But there’s one teeny, tiny problem: I’m freaking Jewish.

Thanks a ton, Mom and Dad.

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve felt a pang (okay, more like a BANG) of jealousy beginning after Thanksgiving and lasting through Boxing Day. Being Jewish in a land of Christmas joy is kind of like being a kid in a candy shop whose mother won’t let him taste sugar. Instead, he gets to take along a bag of fructose-sweetened, all-natural gummies and is told that they’re just as tasty as the real thing. Bullshit.

Sure, Hanukkah is fun. We get a week’s worth of presents and as much fried food as we can shove in our faces, and we can spell our holiday sixteen different ways. But it can’t ever compete with the wonder Christmas offers, and we all know it. The promise and the magic and the warm and fuzzy blanket the whole world seems to cuddle under once a year is something we’re just not a part of, a mysterious club we don’t get to join.

But maybe that’s why Christmas is so magical for me in the first place. There’s no complicated family dynamic clouding my vision or memories of holidays past gone wrong. There’s no fighting in front of the tree or disappointment over first-thingin- the-morning gifts. No in-law drama or having to be in two places at once. It’s pure and utter fantasy. To me, December 25 is picture perfect happiness, complete with matching plaid pajamas and smiling, joyful faces.

And that’s how it will always remain.

 

 

The Thanksgiving Project

Proceeds from the book will go toward supporting The Thanksgiving Project, an official 501(c)(3) charity that has helped over four thousand families celebrate the holiday. Keep reading to find out how Jill Smokler and the Scary Mommy Nation started this worthy cause!

Scary Mommy has always represented the honest side of motherhood. We believe there is no shame in admitting parenting is far from easy and the gig is not always all it’s cracked up to be.

Together, we struggle with feeding babies, not getting nearly enough sleep, and showering far less frequently than we’d like. We commiserate over sending kindergarteners to school in the fall and groan when the year comes to a screeching halt in the spring. We vent about our tweens’ attitude problem, the smell of our sons’ rooms, and our husbands’ snoring. Motherhood is easier because we share it—the good, the bad, and the scary—with one another.

But for all the struggles we share, being able to provide the basics for our children shouldn’t be one of them. Back in mid-November of 2011, I read several upsetting confessions on the Scary Mommy Confessional:

I can barely afford to feed my family. It’s humiliating.

I am so broke I went to get a food box. They told me I make too much money and I just cried and cried. I have no food. I don’t live extravagantly. I work at the welfare office. I can’t even tell my family how bad it is.

Thanksgiving dinner? Ha. I can’t even buy a loaf of bread.

My husband just lost his job. I have no idea how we are going to put food on the table.

As I began the preparations for my own Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn’t shake the fact that moms—moms just like me—wouldn’t be able to have celebrations of their own. Thanksgiving, a holiday that should be about nothing but love and gratitude, was anything but for these moms. On a whim, I turned to my community: If these women (or others who were struggling as well) could step up and ask for help, would the community join me in helping them?

Some quick research told me that the average Thanksgiving dinner costs fifty dollars. I offered to buy the first two people who needed help a grocery store gift card and hoped to match up anyone else I could. I thought maybe we’d be able to help a dozen or so families. Instead, I learned just how amazing the Scary Mommy community is: in four short days, we raised $18,000, buying dinner for almost four hundred families in need. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

Thanksgiving is never going to be perfect; the turkey will be overcooked, someone will forget to add sugar to the cranberry sauce, or the pie will fall on the floor moments before serving. But, like the low moments in motherhood, those things are quickly forgotten as we remember what really matters: our children, and our great love for them. Because that’s what the holiday is all about.