This year officially marks my entrance into the holidays as an adult. The kind who creates merry and bright for the children, who runs around meeting the demands of family, friends and in-laws. The kind who desperately trys to stay engaged and present in order to savor the spirit without losing spirit. And coming to some kind of agreement with my husband about how this all goes down is a whole new level of conversation. It all starts with how we were raised as kids and what traditions we want to bring forward and which we’d like to leave behind. I was like any other kid that enjoyed opening present after present on Christmas morning. The anticipation and then excitement in having all new stuff to play with and wear.
Yet, when I look back I can’t remember a single gift (save for the Atari that our parents had convinced us wasn’t going to happen just so it could be a significant surprise when it did). I remember TV trays on laps at my dad’s parents house. Everyone in jeans with a beer or a cigarette in their hands. Older cousins practicing disco moves in the basement and Grandma’s pumpkin pie. At my mom’s parents house it was looking for Rudolph’s nose blinking in the sky on the way home from Christmas Eve mass and tromping out into the snow for a walk. It was getting dressed for dinner at 5pm in the formal dining room and playing cards with Grammy Ruth’s chocolate chip cookies as chips. And it was about singing in the Christmas pageant and slowly moving the three wise men down the stairs each day on their way to greet baby Jesus. I want a Christmas that reflects on how blessed we are, how thankful we are, and that provides an opportunity to slow down and prepare for how to be better in the new year.
It’s just hard to get around the gifts. Giving should feel good, should feel like you’ve really seen someone. Right now it feels like meeting a quota. In the past I’ve found great joy in making things for people, giving them experiences or small tokens. I’ve never had a lot of money to spend and I refuse to go into credit card debt. This tends to put me at odds with my family who equates gift giving with how much you love them. I’m being difficult when I suggest we draw names. And don’t even get me started about the reaction to the ‘craft’ Christmas idea.
So Christmas 2010 is making me very sad. Where I take this sadness though, that’s the looming question. How do you create a holiday that brings joy to those around you as well as to yourself? And now this question carries greater weight because I know the way I live my life through the holidays will serve as a template for how my child expects Christmas to be. I’m workin’ on it. But in the meantime, this is a great piece on changing the way we approach this season. Enjoy!