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Holiday Regrets and Forgiveness

As I sit here 13 days before Christmas, I wonder how you all are doing? Have you done a deep cleaning, decorated, baked your cookies, written out your Christmas cards, placed the elf, moved the elf, felt uncreative when you checked Pinterest and saw all the remarkable ways people think of to pose their elves, shopped, found a better a gift and returned the first, or left the first in the bag, shoved in the closet until next month when you find it and it’s too late to return, wrapped what you have already, ran out of tape, planned your holiday dinner if hosting, or bought a hostess gift if you are a guest?

WOW! What we do! I started freaking out today because my Christmas cards are not ordered. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t send a Christmas card. I love sending them. I feel it is a sign of love and respect. I also love receiving them- especially the photo ones.

 With all going on, I just can’t get to them, and it’s making me crazy! The younger Sallie would have them done no matter what was going on around her- trust me! And although, I’m pretty sure they will still get done, it’s not eating at me as it would have in the past.

 I would like to share something know as ‘a pearl of wisdom’ with you, especially the younger moms out there. I consider pearls of wisdom to be great advice and knowledge coming from someone who has lived more than 50 years on this Earth and has walked many miles.

 I have spent most of my adult life completing and checking off the Christmas To Do List each December. I had it down to a science- making sure everything I did, was perfect- (again the “P’ word). Truth be told, I loved every minute of it even though it was stressful- but it was a good stress- if that makes sense.

 As I look back, with eyes full of experience, I can see how MY pleasure, joy and need to have a beautiful holiday home and complete the Christmas list took its toll on my daughter and robbed her of a lot of the fun that I enjoyed during this season. This is a hard pill to swallow and own up to in public.

  I will forever regret how busy I was making everything perfect for her and jimmy and my family, that I didn’t have time to do more one on one activities with her. I have many regrets, but the one that stands out so much this time of year is taking the joy of baking away from her. I cringe when I think back at us baking, and me rushing her, fixing her icing, checking my watch, or winching when she dropped a little flour. At the time I didn’t realize it, but time was my enemy. I only had the weekends to get it all done, and I was at school even longer during December because I wanted my students to have a joyful month also and that required extra preparation for Crafts for Christmas, the party,holiday centers etc. I know I am a good a person and mom most of the time- but… I will forever carry and regret losing those precious moments and memories with her. To this day she wants nothing to do with baking with me- and I LOVE to bake.

 She grew up so fast, as they all do. It seems like yesterday we flew to Tennessee to finally hold our baby, and now, she just turned twenty-five. In a blink those years went by- in a blink. If we are blessed with the joy of baking together again, she will never feel that her cookies are not gorgeous or that I am not proud of everything she does, or worse that I don’t have the time for us. It will be what it is for most moms and daughters, a fun, happy holiday memory.

I often think about having grandchildren now- and how different I will be with them. I picture flour all over my counters, messy cookies dripping with smeared icing, and lots of laughter. I picture my daughter right there in the middle. You would have thought waiting so long to be a mom, I would have been the perfect mom- (yep the P word again). I look back and I can understand how I wouldn’t realize the mistakes I made. First, I didn’t have my own mom to guide me, and tell me when I was veering off track, Carley was only five when she passed. Second, not having a child for so long, I threw myself into my profession, always giving my students all I had, to keep busy, to fill the empty void inside me. Having a husband who worked late allowed me to stay at school till seven or eight at night – these were all patterns that became in grained in me. When Carley came, I couldn’t change who I was, so I just carried this bundle of joy with me and did everything I was doing with a new title- “Mom”.

In retrospect, of course I could have changed, but I didn’t have the wisdom back them. I thought I was super mom, super wife and super teacher. I had it all under control. And boy, was I “on” during the holiday seasons! There were times I even amazed myself! So, I wasn’t a bad mom- I was just doing what I knew, but I should have known better.

So, I'm sure you can guess  where this December Daily prompt is going. I’d like you to stop and look around. Have you taken the time to just sit and enjoy lunch with a friend? Have you taken a winter nature walk with your child? Are you trying to squeeze too much into a day so as to check off a list? Are you being mindful of the true meaning of what we wrote about in our first entry? Have you taken the video game, or phone out of your child’s hand and played a Game of Parcheesi or worked on a puzzle together? I did do those things with Carley; I really did a lot with her- but I could have done more.

Something tells me most of you knew better than me, and I want you to write about it. I want you to write down all the good that you do during the holidays, things that your children probably don’t even realize right now. I want you to give yourself a pat on the back and be proud of the mother or wife that you are even if  imperfect like me, because no matter the mistakes that I made, I can still look in the mirror and be proud of who I am and all that I did do right. You could also write about your own Christmas with your mom, or grandmother. Did you have the sweetest and calmest mom? Were you allowed to get flour all over the counters, or did you have a mom like me, who could have done a better job? I want you to know that she was probably doing her best.


Life is too short to beat ourselves up for the past when we didn’t know better. If you do have a regret or two like me write it down also. Again, your children will read this one day and maybe understand a little better the regrets you have. I want you to look at your Christmas list. If you are getting overwhelmed, cross somethings out and maybe think of something more meaningful to do on those crossed out lines. That crossed out list goes in the daily. I want you to give yourself permission not to try to do it all and as I keep saying- take time to enjoy this season with meaning.


With Joy in my Heart,








December 12, 2019 — Sallie Phelan


Laine Murphy

Laine Murphy said:

Thank you for sharing this. I grew up with a “perfect” mother and determined that I wasn’t going to be one. I spent time with my kids and we baked and the kitchen was a mess, but we had fun. Our house was never “perfect”, but it was clean and cared for and neat-ish. I gave up my career to be a full-time mom, and full-time teacher to my kids (we homeschooled) and the time that gave me with my children is so precious to me now that they have grown up. It’s nice seeing it from the other side, so again, thank you for sharing.

Jary Riolo

Jary Riolo said:

You have touched my heart!!thank you for your pearl of wisdom! They come at a good time ❤️🎄❤️

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