12/23/2012 05:53 EST | Updated 02/22/2013 05:12 EST

Dreams Of A Lovely, Formal Christmas

The other day, my mom showed me a lovely cocktail dress that she really coveted from retail store Laura. She sighed and said, "If only I had a place to wear such a nice dress."

I felt her pain. She is retired and so there are no more office Christmas events to get all gussied up for. Family offers little too. Our family doesn't merge with the extended relatives anymore over the holidays, so Christmas these years is at my home and well... OK with three kids, subdued is not the right word, but you get what I mean.

I suddenly had a GREAT idea. What if we really pushed the boat out this year? What if we all bought lovely Christmas outfits and went OUT for Christmas dinner. Yeah!!! We could book at one of the gorgeous hotels for their dinner packages. Have a lovely formal family dinner.

It would be lovely. I imagined my kids Caitlyn and Tara in beautiful velvet frocks and Adam wearing a little suit with Husband looking his formal best. How fun this would be for our little family I thought. Not to mention getting out of cooking and dishes for Christmas!

For one year, we could at least FAKE a Martha Stewart Christmas. For one year, we could ignore our dog and cat stained house and embrace the glitter and magic of Christmas like it is on television.

Then I remembered; I remembered that very morning when we went for a treat... breakfast at McDonalds with Tara. We couldn't even rise up to the civility of fast food as Tara's McMuffin ended up mostly on the floor.

My children are savages. Eating out with them is like asking chimpanzees to tea. It can be HORRIFYING. We spend more time apologizing to waiters and surrounding customers who have had the misfortune of watching Tara eat while the others bicker.

Caitlyn loves to dress up but at the same time, with her wild hair, attracts dirt from every direction, and subsequently lives with permanent dirt smudges across her pretty face. On some days I wait for Child Services to show up asking why I neglect my kids. As I type, Tara -- the three-year-old -- has four shirts pulled on as dresses and tops. No pants though.

We are not a formal family. Mom and I have always dreamed "above our station," as the old British saying goes, but who are we kidding. Christmas now means ignoring the dirt and chaos and focusing on the wine and sparkly lights.

This year will no doubt be a repeat of dinner in pajamas, sick dogs and overstimulated children. Dreams of velvet dresses will have to stay that way till perhaps the kids are grown up -- then they can join us for dinner at the retirement home and wipe the dirt of my face.