A-a-a-ah, the joy of Christmas! As BrainRants just mentioned in his post today, it’s all about wishing a Happy Birthday to Jesus. And so it is.
Christmas brings back so many memories…most of it good, but some of it not-so.
As a small child my sister and I received a play tea set which we absolutely loved.
One Christmas I remember going downstairs to my parents’ room a little after midnight and whispering into my Dad’s ear, “Can we open the presents yet?” He said “No”, rolled over and went back to sleep. This was repeated every hour on the hour until my persistence paid off at about 7:00 a.m. when he couldn’t refuse anymore. It probably helped that my brothers and sisters finally woke up.
We always seemed to have a mountain of gifts under the tree though, looking back, I realize that we were not wealthy by any means.
Buying gifts for my own children always stressed me out because there was so much I wanted to give them while dealing with a tight budget under the watchful eye of an even tighter spouse who didn’t help at all. And it was always the last-minute, after December 15th shopping that just frazzled me.
How to balance visiting my family and his family seemed to work itself out…his on Christmas Eve and mine of Christmas Day. It helped that I was the only one in my own family for years who was married and had children, so there was a lot of flexibility there.
My own best Christmas was the first one after we separated. I didn’t have much money, but I bought something for absolutely everyone I knew and didn’t care about the costs. It was very freeing…even when the bills came in January.
I then found a rhythm where I’ve set a budget…which I don’t usually stick with, but it’s at least a guideline.
I would love to buy all the grandchildren everything in the world, but I keep in mind that I don’t need to be giving more to them than their own parents and Santa. Having nine grandchildren helps keep me in check. But now it’s stressful trying to make sure the gifts are evenly distributed…yikes…so the budget keeps climbing.
I have wonderful neighbors next door who help me throughout the year…mowing my front yard and shoveling the snow. They’ve refused to let me pay them, so I give them a large package of baked goodies in time for their family gathering at Christmas. Their kids apparently look forward to my basic chocolate chip-oatmeal cookies and the soft chewy Snickerdoodles. Am I ready to take it over to them? No! I haven’t even started baking yet!!
I once had all my shopping done by September 30th. Wow, that was liberating. But what happened to that? It eventually evolved to having it done by December 15th, which was still good. But this year I didn’t even start until after December 15th which is made worse by the fact that No3, No4 and No6 had given me their Wish Lists before Thanksgiving.
So here it is, December 22, and I’m back to being stressed out. I’ve made early morning runs everyday this week to Meijer’s and Kohl’s, and plan more to Kroger’s and Costco, probably back to Meijer’s then to Barnes & Noble. I plan to bake a ton of cookies. Most of the gifts are wrapped. Those that I ‘over bought’ will be perfect for the birthdays in a few months. More stress…
Then yesterday in the mail I received a Christmas card from SonNo1 and his family. Inside were some photographs…several of our new little 6-month-old No9 and a beautiful snapshot they took of No5, No7, No8 and No9…all sitting with their Santa hats on and great big smiles on their faces. It brought a big smile to my face and totally blew away my stress. Whew!
So, I’m off to shop and to bake and to plan for a busy week-end of visiting and a trip out-of-town. I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year!!!