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!
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.
Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the HolidaysJill Smokler
From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed Scary Mommy blogger Jill Smokler comes a funny and practical guide filled with essays, recipes, and tried-and-true tips sure to get any parent through the holiday season; without losing your marbles. Ah, the holidays: a time of joy, celebration, serenity, and peace. Unless, of course, you have whiny, screaming children demanding presents, attention, and a personal appearance by Santa or Judah the Maccabee. Then you';re screwed. But wait, there's hope: Scary Mommy Guide to Surviving the Holidays to the rescue! Yes, in this handy holiday guide, you'll find everything you need to survive the fall/winter rush of cheer in style, and without having a mental breakdown. From relatable, hilarious essays on everything from the Santa myth to being seated at the dreaded kids' table, to easy-to-follow recipes that might include just a little something special to take the edge off (can anyone say Kahlua?), to fun and accessible gift ideas, this book is your ticket to peace of mind--and a laugh--during the busy, crazy holiday season!
Confessions of a Scary MommyJill Smokler
Sometimes I just let my children fall asleep in front of the TV. In a culture that idealizes motherhood, it's scary to confess that, in your house, being a mother is beautiful and dirty and joyful and frustrating all at once. Admitting that it's not easy doesn't make you a bad mom; at least, it shouldn't. If I can't survive my daughter as a toddler, how the hell am I going to get through the teenage years? When Jill Smokler was first home with her small children, she thought her blog would be something to keep friends and family updated. To her surprise, she hit a chord in the hearts of mothers everywhere. I end up doing my son's homework. It's wrong, but so much easier. Total strangers were contributing their views on that strange reality called motherhood. As other women shared their stories, Jill realized she wasn't alone in her feelings of exhaustion and imperfection. My eighteen month old still can't say "Mommy" but used the word "shit" in perfect context. But she sensed her readers were still holding back, so decided to start an anonymous confessional, a place where real moms could leave their most honest thoughts without fearing condemnation. I pretend to be happy but I cry every night in the shower. The reactions were amazing: some sad, some pee-in-your-pants funny, some brutally honest. But they were real, not a commercial glamorization. I clock out of motherhood at 8 P.M. and hide in the basement with my laptop and a beer. If you're already a fan, lock the bathroom door on your whining kids, run a bubble bath, and settle in. If you've not encountered Scary Mommy before, break out a glass of champagne as well, because you'll be toasting your initiation into a select club. I know why some animals eat their young. In chapters that cover husbands (The Biggest Baby of Them All) to homework (Didn't I Already Graduate?), Confessions of a Scary Mommy combines all-new essays from Jill with the best of the anonymous confessions. Sometimes I wish my son was still little, then I hear kids screaming at the store. As Jill says, "We like to paint motherhood as picture perfect. A newborn peacefully resting on his mother's chest. A toddler taking tentative first steps into his mother's loving arms. A mother fluffing her daughter's prom dress. These moments are indeed miraculous and joyful; they can also be few and far between." Of course you adore your kids. Of course you would lay down your life for them. But be honest now: Have you ever wondered what possessed you to sign up for the job of motherhood? STOP! DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK UNTIL YOU RECITE THESE VOWS! I shall remember that no mother is perfect and my children will thrive because, and sometimes even in spite, of me. I shall not preach to a fellow mother who has not asked my opinion. It's none of my damn business. I shall maintain a sense of humor about all things motherhood.
Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies)Jill Smokler
From the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of a Scary Mommy and the wildly popular blog ScaryMommy.com, a hilarious new essay collection that exposes the vicious lies that every parent is told. Newly pregnant and scared out of her mind, Jill Smokler lay on her gynecologist's examination table and was told the biggest lie she'd ever heard in her life: Motherhood is the most natural thing in the world. Instead of quelling her nerves like that well intentioned nurse hoped to, Jill was instead set up for future of questioning exactly what DNA strand she was missing that made the whole motherhood experience feel less than natural to her. Wonderful? Yes. Miraculous? Of course. Worthwhile? Without a doubt. But natural? Not so much. Jill's first memoir, the New York Times bestseller Confessions of a Scary Mommy, rocketed to national fame with its down and dirty details about life with her three precious bundles of joy. Now Jill returns with all-new essays debunking more than twenty pervasive myths about motherhood. She's here to give you what few others will dare: The truth.