Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas is coming . . .Bah Humbug!

I may be ostracized for writing this but typically I don't like Christmas. I mean, at all . . . actually I could say I hate it. Before kids, after kids, although maybe my hate isn't as strong as it used to be. Mainly my strong dislike for the holiday comes from the abundance of everything at this time of year: obligations, expectations, traditions, spending money, decorating, gift giving, memory making. It becomes so overwhelming and frustrating, I can't be the only one who feels this way. I hate trying to buy gifts for people that I have no idea what to get for them. I don't have time to shop and probably the gifts go unused, donated, or thrown away. Not that people aren't appreciative but who wants a bunch of clutter? I don't. People get so worried about the gift thing too. Is it perfect, what do they like, I have no qualms about things getting returned but I know other people who get upset if you return their gift. Another example is some people are concerned with quantity in terms of my kids, did they get the same amount of gifts? Did I spend the same amount of money on each child? Please, my kids don't care about those things. They are little enough not to notice and on top of that we are raising them not to be the "Hey, it's not fair, so-and-so got more than me" and so far it is working, we don't make a big deal if someone gets something and others don't and there really hasn't been an issue about it. My kids got so much, too much last year and it was overwhelming me (and them) for several weeks after Christmas (plus throw in a new baby). We even bought into the whole same number gifts thing last year too, each of the older kids got 8 presents here at home . . . 8 x 3 that's 24 things plus the baby got stuff. In addition to the things they received from extended family and friends . . .!

I would really like to love Christmas and enjoy it, so over the last few years I feel like I am making changes to what I think Christmas should be and how my family chooses to celebrate it.

So that sums up my whole idea of Christmas: it's overwhelming. So my new motto for the holidays is simplifying (which happens to be my word for the year too). My plan is to:
1. Decorate less with what I want to decorate with, not everything I have. There's no rule I have to put up every decoration I own. Today Ali Edwards' Blog had a lot of good ideas about simplifying the holidays and one tip was just decorate one room of your home instead of the entire house. A fun and memorable tradition was to once in a while during the holidays to turn off all the lights except for the holiday ones and turn on some holiday music and sit and enjoy the decorations. We're so doing this. I'm thinking a couple times a week with some cocoa, what a fun memory for our whole family. It's a time to slow down and breathe and appreciate the holiday.

2. Buy less. We already do a grab bag for the adults with both sides of the family. We make it into a kind of game where you can steal someone's gift . . . it can be really fun although Aaron's family hasn't really caught on to the whole "fun" part of it but maybe this will be the year, it's a work-in-progress. This year on my side of the family my sisters and I decided to buy group gifts for each set of kids. Less stuff and togetherness. I like the idea. It's taking a little bit of thinking but I have some fun ideas floating around. For our kids at home I am adopting this idea for each child:

Something they need, something they want, something to read, something to wear. And I'm throwing in a toy from Santa and their stockings which we don't put a lot in. Santa also gets them a group gift. This year it is an electronic keyboard. We found a cool one for $15 at Walmart -- it's something that even Reese can play. That is going to help us out a lot in buying, spending money, and space issues. Plus the kids can actually concentrate on playing with the toys rather than run from one thing to another because there's so much and it won't be so unorganized and overwhelming to them.

3. Do the things we enjoy and skip the stuff we don't. I like making our cards, I like making homemade ornaments to give. However, I don't enjoy it when I have to make 75 of each of those things. I begin to feel like a factory. I'm cutting back on those. I will make the number of them that is more manageable and a few extra but that's it. Sure it's nice to give everyone I've ever met (and some people I haven't) something but if I see someone once a year or never why am I sending them a card -- we're evidently not that close. Likewise, we'll attend some holiday events that are fun yet affordable. We can't afford to visit Santa at the mall and pay beau coup bucks for a bad photo but Walmart or someplace usually has Santa there and you can take the photo yourself. We may head to the Festival of Trees again this year. Last year we weren't so impressed but I was 39 weeks pregnant and the kids weren't quite ready to walk but didn't want to ride in the wagon. Last year we never picked out a gift for the angel tree either we both really like doing this and I think the kids will too. We're not going to feel obligated to attend some events that we don't enjoy or don't have time for -- no guilt about it either.

4. Make some gifts. I like doing that too but unfortunately I run out of time. If I cut back on other stuff this year and make it a priority. I have some cute ideas for teachers and some family gifts too. I think I'm not going to stress too much if I don't get them done though. A gift card can be my fall-back if they don't get completed in time and then I can save it for another time or even next Christmas. I enjoy making stuff and it does save money but it is time-consuming but I also find it relaxing.

Christmas should be a magical memorable family time that is enjoyable and brings up pleasant thoughts about the blessings we have, instead of stress and worry. I hope I really enjoy the holidays this year and the memories we create with our families and friends. I hope you do the same.


Henley said...

What a great post, Mindy! Thank you - I needed that. I am going to try and do all of the things on your list. And I feel EXACTLY the same way you do about Christmas!

Saucy said...

Well just keep Christmas about you, your family and what you hold dear. Don't get caught up in all the "obligations" if you can... NO is a powerful word. Enjoy it... your kid's memories depend on it and they will feel your scroogieness if it shows through... they can pick up on things like that.

Just pour yourself some nice cocoa or supermarket eggnog and put your feet up. Let the rest just happen as it happens. Pick and choose what you REALLY WANT to do and leave it at that. Good luck.