Open letter berating myself about my holiday nonsense

holiday single mom

I wrote this single mom holiday letter to myself last year and I am very proud to say that nearly all my shopping is done and the Christmas cards did not require a rush-fee! Also: there are five bottles of wine (and a couple six-packs of decent beer) still awaiting their fate as hostess gifts, and I'm proud to report that I'm feeling more festive and much less stressed than I have in years! 


Single mom holiday manifesto

Facing Christmas for the first time without a family homestead

How are you managing the holidays? Be honest. I will: I kinda dread the season. But it gets better. It does. 

Dear Emma,

Each and every year the holidays are a stressful mess. It's getting a little embarrassing- I mean, it's the same shit show each and every year. Would you get your act together for 2014? Please? Pretty please? Let's recap what you did not learn this year — the fact I'm writing this list now — a full week before Christmas — says something about the severity of the situation. Come on already and get your act together!

  1. Buy 10 bottles of decent wine Nov. 20. You will need them to entertain guests and when attending parties. Stop going to the effing liquor stores a million times. This is an annoying, stupid waste of time.
  2. Likewise — stock up ingredients for your signature holiday dish (bacon-wrapped dates, since you ask. If you live in the NYC tri-state area and know me, I forbid you from making these. This is my jam. Ok?)
  3. The little packet of spare Christmas tree lights? Tape them to the inside flap of the ornament box. This location is now documented in this post. You don't have to remember it.
  4. The day after Thanksgiving dig into your stash of gifts and wrapping paper. Figure out what you already have. You hate waste and crap laying around the house. So do something about it.
  5. List. Make a freaking list of gifts already. Just make the list, then buy that stuff the first week of December. Be done with it. You hate shopping and malls and crowds. What is it with all this self-punishing, last-minute shopping? You're ridiculous.
  6. Order the goddamn picture holiday cards well in advance. I mean, really, Emma — how many times do you have to learn this painful, stressful lesson which sets you back an unnecessary $30 for rush shipping?
  7. New Year's resolution: Cease your endless year-round cursing of the tacky dollar stores populating your neighborhood because without them you would be screwed during the holidays.
  8. Stop stressing over inane crap. You fancy yourself an expert on managing overwhelm, for crying out loud. Why the freak-out over whether the holiday cards fit perfectly inside your client gifts? Who cares?! Lighten up!

Next year, come Nov. 1, pull up this letter. Read it. Follow your own advice. And get it together for once.

Love you!


About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.


  1. Valerie on December 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Yes to all!!!

  2. Tammy on December 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Buy a case of decent wine so you get the 10% discount!

    • Emma on December 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Oooh good idea! Didn’t know about that – amateur (happy) hour over here!

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