18 days to christmas, which means the chaos is upon us. People draining their bank accounts, skipping bills, maxing out credit cards. Everyone is in a panic to make sure their kids get a pile of presents and have 'The best christmas ever'. The grocery stores and malls are packed to the rim with wild eyed consumers prepared to do battle for the gifts on their shopping list. And to each their own, if that helps you sleep at night, and it's what you want to do, then by all means do 'er up. Despite the original meaning of christmas, it has morphed into what people want or need it to be. To me christmas is about memories, bright lights, the smell of a real tree in my home, yummy treats around to indulge in, a big turkey dinner, hot chocolate, snow, fun holiday activities, a few gifts and surprises, of course the big bearded guy in red, and my loved ones.
I haven't bought one single thing yet. When people ask me if I'm all done my shopping and I calmly reply with "I haven't even started". This is what happens -
And then I have to calmly explain to them that everything is going to be alright, Christmas will arrive one way or another and my kids will not go without. Here's the thing, I will go shopping next week (13 days before Christmas). I will spend no more than $150-$200 on each of my kids. We buy for our nephews, and send cards with a photo of the kids to the grown ups. So, no I am not concerned, stressed or panicked about getting things done on time. The only thing that brings those emotions on is thinking about having to go to the mall and deal with the herds of people.
Sometime before christmas the kids and I will go through their current clothes and toys and we will bag and box up everything they've outgrown or don't play with or just simply don't need anymore, then we'll donate it. Every year I do this, and I explain about other people who are less fortunate than we are, who don't have what my kids do. And by no means are we well off, but I appreciate what I do have and have enough common sense to acknowledge the fact that others have far less than I do.
I think the comment that bothers me the most is "Just wait until they're older". Wait for what? For them to ask for $700 phones, laptops, TV's and things that would require pigs to fly before I ever allowed my children to think they were entitled to ask for such an expensive gift? And I'm telling you, the day that one of my kids writes 'iphone 10' on their list, is the day I drag them to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen and make them spend christmas volunteering. IF my child decides at the appropriate age that there is something they want that is over the limit I spend on them then they can get a paper route or a part time job and pay for a portion themselves. I will pitch in the $200 I normally spend, they can choose to ask their grandparents, aunts, uncles etc... for cash that year instead of gifts to go towards their purchase, and then they can pay the remainder. If that is all they get that year, then so be it. They need to learn that you have to work for what you want in life, be reasonable, and if you want more than what is within your means you need to be prepared to sacrifice to get what you want.
I love my babies, and I understand that they're only kids once, and I do want them to have an awesome childhood, filled with amazing memories and imagination. BUT, that can be done without spending a fortune and buying them everything they ever ask for.
So here's the thing, as parents we all have different hopes and dreams for our children, we all have a different ideas of what the Holidays mean, religious or otherwise. I'm not saying the way someone else chooses to celebrate is right or wrong, I'm just saying it's not right for my family. To each their own, but don't automatically assume that everyone celebrates the same way you do.
To end this post I'm going to share my top 3 favorite Christmas memories.
#1 - The year my brother, father and I were setting up the tree and the stand broke just as we had finished decorating it. My brother had to lie under the tree and hold it up while my Dad and I tried to figure out what to do. We ended up taking the base off the patio table because it had a hole in the middle, so we managed to lift the decorated tree up in the air, and switch the bases, I believe we had to stuff something in the hole to hold the tree in place, but it worked! We laughed so hard and it was so funny, that I never forgot that day. The only problem was that we didn't even think about the fact the base had been sitting outside and was filled with solid ice that soon melted and created a disaster. We cleaned it and laughed harder. I'll never forget that day.
#2 - I was probably 4 or 5 years old, I had really wanted one of those round plastic saucers for the winter, but after opening all of my gifts that morning I realized it wasn't there. I tried not to be too disappointed and play with the toys I did get. Suddenly I hear my dad yell from the front entryway "Wait a minute! There's something out here!" So I run out, and sitting by the front door was a bright yellow plastic saucer! I played with that cheap piece of plastic for many winters to follow.
#3 - This memory is from my daughter's first Christmas in 2009. It was our first Christmas as a family. My fiance's mother and stepfather traveled over to spend it with us. I was cooking a big turkey dinner for them, my mother and brother. In the middle of cooking dinner our oven broke. Instead of panicking we laughed our heads off, packed the half-cooked food up in the back of a truck and drove down the road to my dad's house. We spent some time at his house and finished cooking our food there, then drove it back home to eat. We could have handled that differently and been upset , but instead it's one of my best christmas memories.
Not one of those memories involves me getting tons of presents. No kid is ever going to look back and say "Wow Christmas was awesome because we got so many presents!" (I hope not anyway). They are going to look back and remember the memories you've helped create for them. The piles and piles of gifts are not going to stick in their little brains. But the memories and few special gifts will more than likely remain with them forever.
At the end of the day, you do Christmas your way and I'll do it mine.