I seem to have fallen down the rabbit hole of Brady expectations all my life. It particularly manifests around the Christmas season and it brings with it a plethora of feelings of not having achieved the perfect parenting ideal.
When the kids were small it was easy to "do Christmas" my way - we didn't have a lot of money, but there was always enough for what we needed and we diligently spent time with both families (often on the same day - 2 hours drive apart) so that I could tick all the Brady boxes. What I didn't expect was that the next generation doesn't have the same commitment to the Christmas cause.
I strove throughout the teenage years to achieve one family Christmas photo each year - that was conditional to me not asking for photos during the other 364 days of the year. They turned up for Christmas/Boxing Day lunch as was expected and suffered their way through the family get togethers. I think they actually enjoyed them more than they admitted, but there was certainly the sense that it was not their first choice of where they'd be choosing to spend their time.
I had envisaged myself at this time of life as the Christmas matriarch - surrounded by the fruit of my womb all warmly sharing together around the burgeoning Christmas lunch table (despite the fact that I wouldn't win any prizes for being the world's greatest cook). But now that my children are both married and living away from home, I have gradually adjusted my expectations to taking the Christmas crumbs as they are distributed and being grateful that they choose to spend any of their Christmas season with the extended family.
Facebook rubs it in further - I have a friend who's children faithfully have their photo taken with Santa each year because their mum loves it - they are now in their 20's and up on facebook goes the token Santa photo each year. My children would rather face Bubonic plague than sit on Santa's knee (can't say I blame them - but that still makes me feel like I missed the devoted children boat). Social media and all the filtering out of less-than-savory happenings means that the Brady ideal proliferates and I am left feeling like I failed somewhere along the way.
The truth is that both my children have partners and with them come their extended families and all the Christmas expectations that they have. After giving myself a stern talking to, and adjusting my expectations to a more realistic level, I have realized that I am truly fortunate that my children still find time to come home, still love some of our little Christmas traditions, and still want to catch up with cousins, aunties, uncles and grandparents where feasible. So in the tradition of being thankful I will say that it might not be the Brady's, but it's still pretty darn good.