Sunday, December 27, 2009

bah humbug

*** i tried. i really, really tried to write a post about my feeling about christmas. below lies the ramblings of what i just couldn't completely draw out of my brain and vocalize. i have weird feelings about christmas. if you dare read below, you will see that. (or you will just see that i'm weird and be amazed that i've ever put together a coherent post considering how swirly my brain is.) because i want my time of trying to vocalize all this to not be a waste, and to make this productive, this is what i do know about christmas-time next year.

-we are going to celebrate a real advent. we are really going to prepare our hearts and minds. (ha. that will be interesting. "gosh darn it ben and max! you guys better shape up and prepare your hearts, or else...!!!)
-we are going to simplify gift-giving even more than our pretty pared down list.
-i will put my foot down and limit our holiday appearances.
-we fill focus our time and energy on family time and leisure. i'm sure tim can help me with the leisure part.

so read the rest if you want. but it might give you a headache.

i've been wanting to post, but it seems almost sacrilegious to not post about christmas when it's christmas time, and i really don't have a lot to say about christmas, or at least not things that wouldn't earn me dirty looks.

don't get me wrong, i think Christ's birth was a totally awesome thing for which i'm very thankful, and i enjoy how the holiday brings out the best in many people, but i really dislike what christmas from a consumer standpoint has come to mean. i really dislike the expectations, the stuff, and the hectic hustle of it all.

i know most of my feeling are my own fault, but they are still my feelings.

i miss the anticipation of christmas. as a kid my mom always did a wonderful job of decorating the house. (she still does and my boys LOVE looking at her decorations.) i don't decorate much because i 1.) don't want to spend money on decorations, 2.) don't like unpacking, repacking, and finding storage space for decorations, 3.) i'm lazy. each year i get a little better about it, but it's been a slow transformation. it's weird but a lil festivity around the house really makes a big difference.

but the real anticipation that i miss is advent. as a kid, advent was like lent-lite. we gave things up to prepare our hearts for Christ's coming. or at least that was the idea. really, i just gave things up, and then cheated, because that's what we were supposed to do. but it still meant something. and when christmas finally came, it was exciting.

yah know, what? as i write this, i keep trying to put my finger on why i feel so grinchy. i keep thinking about what christmas was like when i was a kid and how it's different. yes, as a kid there was a lot of anticipation before christmas and it seemed like it took FOR.EVER. for christmas to come, but really, deep down, christmas hasn't changed that much for me since i was a kid, because even as a kid, i was a brat about christmas. it was mostly all about the presents. i would hoard my stuff away, get annoyed when santa came for my little brother and not for the rest of us (what da heck, santa?!), and calculate who all i would get things from.

as a mother, i so desperately don't want that for my boys. but christmas has so much built into it that i don't even know how to break away. look at easter-the celebration of Christ's resurrection. easter is wonderful and joyous and i don't have to stress out for a month about what to get everyone, make all the appropriate easter stuff, and then haul my family around town until they are cranky, i'm beyond cranky, and we're all exhausted.

but like i said, i just don't know how to break away from it ALL. how do i not make a big deal out of santa, and yet not ruin it for family members who choose to. we didn't do anything santa-y. ben likes santa stories, but we've left it at that-stories. but all of my nephew's on tim's side still believe. and oh course, that's the first thing they talk about. fortunately, i don't think we ruined it for them. although, while i was talking on the phone to a friend about all this, ben, while playing with cars on the floor, said, "santa's not real". when i asked him more about this, he said, "santa's not real. he's at the north pole." i think i'm going to leave it at that for now. i will neither confirm nor deny anything.


  1. Hmmmmm, I like this. I do. I identify. A lot. I'm really torn about the whole Santa thing too. We told Gemma the kitchen set was from Santa, but she is totally too young to get it and I'm just like, whatever. I'm with you, I don't necessarily want to encourage it all (now that I have kids it just seems silly, never thought I"d think that), but I don't want to ruin it for others. We must discuss this sometime.

  2. I too, identify with what you're talking about. Especially about the putting your foot down about not so many FREAKING holiday appearances! I was literally in tears yesterday because we got to looking at the week ahead (Andy took vacation time all this week) and it was like (WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A SINGLE DAY JUST AT HOME!!) So we're trying to pare down our obligations/things we wanted to do as we speak.

    The Santa thing also seems so hokey and unbelievable to me. I don't understand how we ever believed it as kids. I feel like we are so utterly honest with Ira about everything else (miscarriages, the baby being born, body parts, etc.) that carrying on this charade of Santa just seems like the world's biggest lie! (GASP!!) And I don't like to lie to my kid(s)!

    My mother-in-law (who is a kdg. teacher) did say that someone important (I can't remember who, but I know it made an impression on me when she said it) said that belief in Santa Claus (and other things unseen) is really a very important part of childhood and becoming an adult. (Something about having something to believe in, leads to ability to believe in unseen God, increases imagination and trust, etc...) (Does that make any sense??) So we do do Santa here. (Not just b/c of what mom-in-law said - it just seems to me like there is so little magic/mystery left in the world and this is an opportunity to give that to our children.)

    But I agree, you hear priests, etc. talk about holy anticipation and I'm just like "I SO want that!" But it's a little difficult to develop holy anticipation when you have engagements every weekend (and some weeknights) for a month straight followed by 4 or more days of "Christmas" celebrations with family, gifts, food, baking, decorating, christmas cards/letters, well, you know!

    Agreed, we must discuss more in depth sometime what to do...

  3. Ha ha ha! This is actually JOEL. And while I've never been smart enough to figure out how to log in as myself to leave a message, I just noticed that Jackie is already logged in, so I can actually leave a message here, rather than on Mary's facebook page. Another great note, as always Mary. And Cranmer sisters, I enjoyed your comments as well. I think Michelle has great points about Santa, which is basically why we do Santa and St. Nick on the 6th, even though they are interchangable. But I think all your resolutions Mary are spot-on, and if you can just carry through with them, you'll find next year much more peaceful. Less gifts. Less time commitments. More emphasis on Advent traditions and the real meaning of Christmas. I didn't do too great on my Advent resolution this year, but it was a great year for preparing the boys. Then Santa Claus only brought stocking stuff (some Cars cars, so they love Santa), one gift from mom and dad, and one gift to eachother. And so far, our break has been wonderful. Maybe that's because I'm a teacher and get so much time off. Maybe that's because we still have gatherings to come (I did feel a little guilty now about adding ONE MORE THING for you guys to all think about with the House of Gold meeting, but hopefully by then, you'll be ready for some time with friends, where the only gifts exchanged are food and laughter. Oh goodness that sounded hokey. Okay, I should go. Bye all! It has been fun commenting on this blog!

  4. This (the Santa stuff) sounds like a great conversation to delve into at knitting or an MI meeting sometime! We, too, are having a tough time with the Santa thing. We briefly talked about the concept with Melanie before a "Cocoa and Cookies with Santa" party we went to in an attempt to avoid her being scared of the Santa that was there(didn't work) and then again on Christmas Eve (opting to talk about St. Nick instead) but it was totally lost on her.

    Michelle Buford offered a good suggestion she heard from someone - Santa only brings three gifts per child since Jesus got three gifts from the wise men, and since that's the reason why we exchange gifts anyway, it seems like a good idea to me. I'm contemplating the idea of limiting the # of gifts family members are allowed to give our girls. It just gets too crazy too quickly!

  5. maybe the santa topic can be our january mi discussion. i have to miss knitting again this week : (

  6. Wow, this is good stuff! I have been thinking about it all too. I hate what Commercialism has done to Christmas. They put the stuff up and radio stations start playing the music two months in advance... but then they take it down and stop playing it on Christmas day, if not before. What happened to celebrating the octave, which BEGINS on Christmas day?? There's all this anticipation and hype, for what? One day? Of presents? Really?

    My mom was telling me about a homeschooling family who celebrates St. Nick - Santa - by having him come on Dec 6th, instead of on Christmas. Then, after he comes, they spend the rest of the month preparing for Jesus' coming and celebrating Advent. I thought this was an awesome idea, and would love to put it into place next year (doubting Oliver will remember when Santa actually came this year). The only hold-up I continue to have is what others will talk about with my kiddos when they're in school. Does he just respond that Santa comes early to our house? I'm probably dwelling too much. But it seems like such a great idea! I LOVE the 3 gifts idea, too!

  7. So .... the day before Christmas, I could be found curled up on the laundry pile on our bedroom floor, in the fetal postition, with a blanket pulled over my head. Erik freaked out when he saw only a pair of feet sticking out. ;) And we were only going out of town .... so it was chaotic.

    But I agree, I know some families who say "JC only got 3 gifts, so that's the standard for our family" ... and I like that.

    I don't really decorate beyond the advent wreath and nativity set ... I'm wondering if that's good as in only religious stuff, but I'll be honest: I'm lazy and if I unpack it, it wouldn't get re-pacekd until at least Valentine's day.