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Amanda Peet: 'I Have an Inferiority Complex About Not Celebrating Christmas'

Photograph by David Fisher/REX Shutterstock

In her new children's book, "Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein," on shelves today, Amanda Peet and co-author Andrea Troyer take their Christmas-decoration-obsessed Jewish heroine on a journey to figure out what really matters when it comes to celebrating the holidays.

Mom.me spoke with the actress and mother of three, who currently stars in the HBO comedy "Togetherness," about balancing work and family and being OK with not always knowing what the hell you're doing!

Did you write this book because your kids started asking about Christmas?

Oh, yeah. They look at all the decorations and the store windows and people are talking about their trees at school. And they kept asking me, "Why can't we just have a tree?" So the first thing we did was we tried to write a book that would poof-up Hanukkah and put it in direct competition with Christmas ... and we couldn't do it. Hanukkah isn't as spectacular as Christmas, let's face it. So we decided to make it about a Jewish girl who wishes she could have Christmas.

It seems like the message is, it's OK to not be like everyone else.

I think it's really helpful for kids when they can zoom out and see that what seems really dire, like not being able to celebrate Christmas, isn't really a tragedy. That's why we had Rachel's mom work at the hospital on Christmas. People have to work on Christmas sometimes. People work at the airport hauling your luggage for you. So you start to think about that and think about other cultures and realize how lame it is to complain.

MORE: How to Throw a Hanukkah Party

How do you celebrate Hanukkah?

Since I have an inferiority complex about not celebrating Christmas, I get my kids too many Hanukkah presents. And that's got to stop, because they're getting older and they're going to become very Beverly Hills. My favorite thing is that I love wrapping presents. It's a very Stepford part of me. My sister and I get drunk and wrap; as you can imagine, the wrapping gets more and more messy and ugly the drunker we get.

Is your Christmas the typical Chinese food and a movie?

Yes. My sister's family is usually here, so we have a lot of kids running around and it's incredibly chaotic and messy.

My favorite thing is that I love wrapping presents. It's a very Stepford part of me.

Do you want to continue writing children's books?

It wasn't that we wanted to write children's books. It was that we had this idea, and we were very frustrated and we felt there needed to be a book about this.

Since you celebrated both holidays growing up, did you consider doing that with your kids?

We thought about it, but David (Benioff, "Game of Thrones" show runner and Amanda's husband) never celebrated Christmas and felt strongly about it, so I was happy to sort of choose, I guess.

MORE: 'Game of Thrones'-Inspired Baby Names

What do you wish someone had told you before you became a parent?

My favorite piece on parenting is by Nora Ephron—"Parenting in Three Stages," which I think every new parent should read. And I'm pretty sure she opens with something about how "parenting" is a word that didn't exist when she became a mom. You just had kids. You didn't "parent" them.

I also feel like I wish more people had talked to me about postpartum depression because I had postpartum depression. You know, I think there's still so much shame around it. The more you can share with your friends—it's empowering for women to understand that they shouldn't aspire to be blissed out all the time on being a mother.

We all have thoughts like, "Why am I bored some of the time?" "Why am I frustrated and angry some of the time?" "Why do I miss work?" "Why do I not feel like making dinner?" You know, all that stuff.

Do you feel like you've found a balance between work and being a mom?

No! I don't feel like I've found a balance. I'm learning on the job. If I go too far in one direction and get a complaint, then I start to move in the other direction and so on. It's an improvisation.

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