I was sitting here today, amid the usual holiday chaos of wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper and the like, thinking that Christmas is really just a retail holiday now. I realize that isn’t a new thought, or a new disappointment. It’s just something that I seem to mull over every year, vowing each time to change “next year”, and I never do.
Christmas… it should be more than people tearing into gifts and food that took weeks to search for, hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars to purchase, and countless hours to prepare.
It should be more than the end result of mere moments of self indulgence.
It should be a time for family, a prolonged and joyous time, where people don’t make “gimme lists” or constantly think about “what they’re getting”. Don’t get me wrong - there’s nothing better than a child being thrilled about a fabulous present under the tree, knowing you put that smile on their face. My own mother told me that one of our presents to her this year (a digital photo frame) was “bar none, the best gift she’d received this Christmas”, and she absolutely loves it. Definitely a gratifying response, and one I certainly appreciated.
Ok, so it did go well, everyone was spoiled and definitely well-fed. So why then, do I feel like something is missing?
Spoiled… is that the key word here? Christmas lists? Hrm. Am I feeling perhaps that all it really boils down to is the fact that people tell me what to buy them, and I go ahead and do it? Am I feeling that maybe the whole idea of this is that it’s simply WRONG? I think that must be it. It definitely grates on my nerves when someone hands me a list of things they want for Christmas. Generally I tend to ignore these lists, but sometimes it’s just easier to get them exactly what they want and be done with it. Bah, we really are spoiled!
My little daughter (Bratling II) did the “I want I want I want” thing, as any 3 year old is apt to do. And like every other normal parent on the planet, I ignored it for the most part and answered with “well maybe Santa will bring it, who knows”. Do you know what she remembered and dwelled on most of all though? The cheapest thing under the tree this year - a Little Mermaid Cell Phone. She talked about it constantly, and very seriously sat upon Santa’s knee during their visit and asked him only for that one item. I think it cost all of $3. That child, with all of her many other gifts, was so utterly thrilled when she opened that tiny package “from Santa”, and beheld that bit of purple plastic, it was a sight to see. Hrm. Perhaps not “truly” spoiled yet, my girl.
(You’ll remember that the title of this post has “ramblings” in it, so forgive me if I do just that.)
So I’m unhappy. Not miserable and depressed mind you, just not happy with how it all seems to end once the last bit of turkey is put away and the kids are in bed come Christmas night. Come and gone in the blink of an eye, it seems. I feel as though something has been lost, or ignored… skipped over… but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
I guess perhaps I’m unhappy that it seems to be just a child’s holiday, and for the rest of us, it’s only work and additional stresses (shopping, crowds, preparation, money…). I’m not big on crowds.
We have a small family - my brother and their 2 kids, our 2 kids, my parents and my one remaining 96 year old grandmother. Mr. Guru’s family is slightly larger, but far away on the East Coast. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing, since it all seems to boil down to money. If we had a huge family, we’d practically need to bankrupt ourselves each year to make sure one and all were spoiled! …there’s that word again.
Merry Retail Day? Visa Claus? O Holy… Presents, Batman? Bah! Humbug!
One year I’d like to skip it all - the crowds and the stress. Get the family all together and rent a remote cabin in the woods somewhere for a whole week. Build snowmen, have snowball fights, drink eggnog and hot chocolate, and get rosy cheeks and belly aches from laughing long and loud. Make ourselves remember what Christmas is really all about - celebration of family and reaffirming life and strengthening relationships. Oh, I know some of you are saying “um, hello…” but I’m not talking about Christmas as a religious holiday just now. For us it really is simply being together that matters (or should matter). But I think it would mean so much more if we were “really” together, without all the rest of the distractions and foolishness that Christmas has become. If we could take time and really connect, and bring cherished traditions to the forefront rather than presents and glitz, remove the “spoiled” and replace it with joy and contentment… now that would bring a smile to my face. That would build memories to last a lifetime.
May the joys of the holidays be yours. Have a happy and safe holiday season! Merry Christmas!