Thursday, December 20, 2007

'Tis the season~

'Tis the season~
I'm never all that jolly at Christmas time. It's too commercial, too demanding. I hate demands. I hate to follow the sheep through the stores-- not that people mean to be sheep, but 'tis the season-- spending money I shouldn't, spending time wrapping gifts when I am tired, gifts that will only be ripped open, expensive paper burned in the woodstove or cluttering a landfill.

I don't know how to return Christmas to what I think it should be: peace and love. All is calm, all is bright.

It's hard to back up.

I don't like all the hype. But somewhere along the line, early on when my three kids were little, I succumbed and set a precedent that I want to end, but how?

Here's what I'd say to new parents:

Don't start off your Christmases by piling presents high under the tree. It's easy to do when a lot of little toys, relatively inexpensive, make a big pile to the eye-popping delight of the little ones. Their excitement makes it worth repeating next year, and the next, until suddenly the gifts aren't so inexpensive, and the pile must shrink or credit cards be used.

My kids have never whined and begged for things. Really. My Christmas angst is my own doing. I hate to disappoint.

But will it be the "kids" (my youngest is nineteen, but he's my baby) who are disappointed if the pile under the tree is small? Or me, who wants to see the sparkle in their eyes.

Me, I think.

Me, they tell me. "Mom, relax," they say.

And I have, a little. My husband has done the shopping so far. He's better at it than I am anyway. I'll wrap.

And this Christmas I hope to find the calm, the peace, the love . . . the reason for the season.


Anonymous said...

Ha, too late the credit cards are already out at my house. But seriously, I know what you mean. We try to take the kids on a trip at Christmas and go light on the presents. I wish I were better about sending home made stuff home to my Mom. I think you're right on the money.

Janice Thomson said...

I so know what you mean Ruth - my idea of Christmas is a sleigh ride Christmas Eve, a few friends over for coffee and a rum eggnog and that's it. And that's exactly what I do except here there's rarely snow so I don't even go for sleigh rides. I love lights and I decorate lots but I haven't had presents for years and I have never missed it. My kids know now to give to charity if they want to give me something. Since I'm also vegan there's also no big dinner either so for me Christmas is spent quietly and peacefully - and I love it that way.

rain said...

I loved this post. It captures how I often feel. Thanks! I have been quite sick for about 6 weeks now and have had to let many Christmas things that I thought were all important, go. Guess what? It hasn't made a lick of difference. Hope I remember this next year.

Crafty Green Poet said...

wonderful photo and I agree with your thoughts about Christmas.

Dawn said...

Ahhh making family rituals. It is so much easier to follow the pack. We're struggling to form new rituals while our family is far away -- one of those is free shipping. :) I'm writing about similar issues on my blogs: Blogs:

It's been difficult to find the holiday spirit this year. I don't think I'm alone.

But give your kids and hubby and friends lots of hugs for they are the real presents....


Lisa said...

"Sheep" ~ HA~ love that term. Okay, rant time . . .

My parents always go overboard at Christmas and spend way too much money on us, which only makes me feel guilty. My mother refuses to accept that we're now grown-ups, and has to have a lot of things for us to open. It drives me crazy. My brother also spends too much, and it's stupid since we never talk or spend time together.

This year instead of spending a certain amount on every person, I just decided to buy one small nice thing for everyone, and I refuse to feel bad because some of the gifts only came to $25 or whatever. I just can't afford this holiday like others can.

I'm trying to stay in a peaceful state of mind, and that lovely picture you posted up there is just perfect to remind me to slow down, take a breath, and feel the love that the holidays are REALLY about. :)

Barbara said...

You really have to fight to get beyond the commercialism of the holiday. It's almost a relief when it's over and the world becomes sane again.

One of the benefits of converting to Judaism is I now have a reason not to celebrate. I can just enjoy the quiet that is still there in the winter cold.

sc morgan said...

Hi Ruth

Such honesty! Always dangerous ground to use the word hate at this time of year… Brava for you.

As a single parent Christmas was always incredibly hard on me. I decided that "presents" would be things of necessity, like clothes or new shoes or books. By the time my kids were in high school they did their own shopping with an allotted amount of money from me, and then we wrapped them and put them under the tree. No disappointment, no jealousy. It was great. Now my kids are grown and having kids of their own. I think they are trying to figure out a tradition that is even less materialistic than the one they grew with. A visit to a nursing home? Helping at a soup kitchen? Something along those lines. It is a hard tiem of year. I much prefer Thanksgiving. It's my fav.

Ruth D~ said...

Amazing how Christmas brings out such mixed feelings in all of us.

Because it's so close to Christmas, and I'm so busy, grrrr . . . , I'm not going to respond personally right now, like I want to do, but I appreciate all your comments; they're so unique, and yet contain a common thread.

Marry Christmas! :>)

Josie said...

Ruth, I know exactly how you feel. Christmas seems to feel more like Pottersville and less like Bedford Falls every year. It has been hijacked by commercialism. And merchants, in their quest for the almight dollar, have turned Christmas from Christmas into Holday, so that everyone can participate, and everyone can spend money to buy each other gifts. I would like to see Christmas get back to the way it used to be, when folks put their tree up on Christmas Eve and took it down on January 6th (the 12 days of Christmas), and people were actually allowed to sing Christmas Carols instead of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree". *shudder* Christmas used to be lovely. All the best parts of Christmas have been stripped away, in the name of political correctness, and all the worst parts have been left behind. We now reside in Pottersville.

Bah, humbug, I say. Give me back my Christmas, and I will feel the joy I used to feel.

Wanda said...

You have the right idea for Christmas. I wish young families could understand how meaningful it can be without all the major expensive gifts.
My joy will be looking into the eyes of my grandchildren, and sharing the love of my adult children. Merry Christmas dear blogger friend. So glad I met you.

Pauline said...

I must be one of the few that love the whole Christmas thing - it's the only time of the year I like shopping, searching out one gift for each person on my list. I used to drive myself into debt buying more and more - now I make or bake something for most of my gifts - Christmas breads, cookies, a pan of fudge. I look for a special book or game of some sort for my two grands (this year it was Parcheesi and Jr. Boggle), get littles for the stockings and make my own gift tags. Sometimes I even make my own wrapping paper. I love setting up a little tree and dragging out the boxes of ornaments from my childhood. I love the anticipation and the once-a-year carols and the visiting to and fro. I don't believe in God, have doubts about the whole Jesus in the manger story and celebrate the solstice with delight but I still love Christmas morning and Santa Claus!