Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Holiday Season (warning NQR)

I have had one heck of a day.  No sewing, quilting or anything remotely close.  The closest encounter I had with stitching was a bad event near the Walmart fabric department today.  I can see eyes rolling now...what is she doing anywhere withing a 1 mile radius of the Walmart fabric department???  Well, I was trying to get some blue washout markers.  They are a useful marker and seriously, Walmart has them cheapest.  I was with my 12 yr old, and we were there for these markers, tape to use wrapping gifts, and the candy for this house.  I left my cart (with tape and markers in it) for a mere 2 minutes to wander down an aisle looking, and came back to discover someone had stolen my cart!  Talk about making me LIVID.  Those were the only 2 markers Walmart had, and now I don't have them.  On top of that, I got home to realize that the tape wasn't purchased either.  45 ridiculous minutes in Wally World for nothing but frustration and candy.  Joy to the World!

So I was recently challenged or asked what would make a perfect Christmas for me, since it is really no secret whatsoever that I just don't like this time of year.  I know I am in the minority since so many people just love the Christmas season.  But I don't like it and haven't for a long time.  It is a kid's holiday to me.  For the adults, it is just trouble and more trouble.  First off, I am not religious.  It is nothing that I regret, or care to alter about myself; just a fact mostly.  My parents never took us kids to church growing up.  I figure they had their reasons, but really I just never thought about it long enough to complain.  In college, I did try out different churches.  Let's face it, most Southerners are regular church-goers.  Some days it seemed right, but mostly I felt like I was trying to conform to someone else's beliefs.  I was married in a church, and it was a beautiful one, and a heartfelt service.  It seemed like the right thing to do since my FIL is a now-retired minister.  Today, though, I would probably have done it on the beach or in the Caribbean.  Anyhow, at a time of year when many are getting to the depth of their religious faith, I am not.  Christmas does not signify the birth of someone key in my life, as it does many.  I love and appreciate and look forward to celebrating my family's birthdays.  They are what matter in my life.  I love that they each get their own special day.  I hate planning for a birthday of a baby without that special meaning to me, and needing to buy EVERYONE but everyone a present.  It lessens the meaning to me, and it decreases the efforts I will put into selecting each gift.  Christmas makes everything I need to do complicated.  The grocery is always busier.  UPS and the post office are just ridiculous to go to, and I have 2 trips a week to each typically.  I dislike having holiday bills clear until February on account of all the extra purchases...tree, special meals, desserts, presents, packing things, shipping, etc.

For several decades, I really took the gift making to heart.  I take pride in making a handmade gift for the most special of my receivers.  To me, this is the most personal thing, and despite the fact that I almost never get anything handmade, I continued to make gifts -- usually stitched, but sometimes knit or crocheted, and more recently, quilted, personalized calendars, and more.  I know that they say it is better to give than to receive, but there comes a time when I have just had enough with receiving things that had little thought.  That is the fault of this holiday, where we have to get something for flipping everybody.  It is too easy to have no personalization.   It is so bad that I hate to even mention if I am looking at something because I know that someone will be waiting to hear that and just go buy it.  I know they don't mean anything bad, but the lack of creativity is hard at an already hard time. This holiday has absolutely NO surprise for me (not counting the year 2 of my 3 mini-monsters unwrapped the tree before xmas morning).  I wish people wouldn't email and ask what to get my kids and I.  If they stopped long enough to think about it, they'd come up with something original.  Gift giving has just become this "gimme your list" kind of event that there is nothing genuine or heart-felt about it.  This year, I have made nothing, except for one small something for each of my kids.

We know that Christmas isn't supposed to be about the presents, but sadly that and eating decadent things are all it seems to be.  Why do I need to have 5 different types of cookies in my kitchen just because it is a week before Christmas?  I don't want sugared-up kids, and I spent too much time working to drop 8 pounds last year to eat them back on this year.  I know that there are some that love food gifts, but not me.  If I want a particular type of food, I will get it.

Most are too quick to call me curmudgeonly or Grinch-like, but they don't stop long enough to assess why I seen this way.  I love the music of the season, so much so that my family now hates to ride in my car because it has been on 24-hour xmas tunes since Thanksgiving.  I don't claim to believe in the words of all of these, as many are traditional religious hymns, but I enjoy the music all the same.  The lighted homes and cities are pretty to see at night.  Is it a joy to do at my house?...heck no....compounded by the fact that there is already icy snow covering all the electrical cords in the yard.  I am typically the only one in my family that does the shopping.  This is because I will do it before expedited shipping is required, and I will go to a different store if a lower price is available. My husband will not.  I generally wrap, but I have been known to give him a pile of our Santa presents and the red paper and let him go to town.  I don't so much mind wrapping, as much as getting gifts and ensuring that things are fairly done for all 3 kids.  I would be much happier if all adults in the family just stopped getting each other gifts.  I have had enough gift cards, and just feel shallow giving them to others.  I do appreciate our simple traditions.  We go as a family and cut down a tree, almost every year.  The boys each get their turn trying with the saw.  My most curmudgeonly year, when I decided we didn't need a tree (we were going to DC on the 26th), they went onto the woods and cut one down.  My daughter enjoys decorating the cookies, so we make a batch of a couple types and every 4-5 days, we bake a few off.  She decorates them.  I try hard not to eat all of them.  The younger two helped make an entire gingerbread house today from scratch.  It took an entire 4-5 hours to make and decorate, but they love it.  I love their concerts at school.  Despite my complete lack of religion, for several years we have taken (aka dragged) them to church on christmas eve.  There is sometimes protest, and usually the "sure am glad we don't have to go here the other 51 weeks of the year" comments.  But it is done anyway.  On Christmas eve, there is ALWAYS the photo of the 5 of us, and the possible cooperative cats, taken in front of the tree.  It is something they know will happen, and in 15 years can tell their kids about.

My perfect Christmas does not exist.  I want these moments with my kids, but the reality is that they happen every day, and don't need a jewish baby's birthday to happen.  I can love and appreciate my family without needing to overspend and overeat to show it.  Reality is, the buying of presents really just cheapens the feeling of the season.

There's my holiday rant...thanks for listening.  I am not seeking suggestions for how to be more content with December each year, but just sharing why I may seem grumpier than usual.  Have a good weekend~

10 comments:

Dyan Greeley said...

I am with you girl!!

Dyan Greeley said...

I am with you girl!!!

KathyinMN said...

Ha! Laughing here because I feel very similar, the difference being my step-kids are grown. Trees up (me, or we wouldn't have one) and I've still got cards to send. I sent homemade surprises to a few family and friends right after thanksgiving, I was running at 25% even acknowledging they received something until last week when it went to 50%. That'll take the ho ho ho right out of your sails. So I crank the Chipmunks and keep moving forward. Looking forward to two 4-day weekends coming up, not really the holiday itself. Good luck on surviving it all. And thanks for sharing too, made me feel normal.

Valary said...

Finally, someone out there that I totally relate to about Christmas. I feel the same way and always feel bad about it. This year I will remember what you said and try not feel bad about it.

Sandi Whitford said...

Ditto

Susan Lawson said...

Your not alone Margaret, I think many people share your thoughts/feelings on the holidays. Last year I worked, so I didn't even put up a tree and my husband and I spent Christmas day at the truck-stop eating ham and potatoes before I went to work. This year, I told all the family "no gifts" we are giving each other the "gift of time" spending Christmas day together eating, drinking and maybe playing a nice game of Cards against Humanity. I've stopped all the madness, no sending cards (I call people I really care for), no handmade gifts (most people don't realize the time and effort)and no baking 20 dozen cookies (the local bake shop does just fine if I need them). My eldest son thinks I'm becoming quite the Scrooge, but lets see who has their sanity after the holidays. So Margaret...Merry Christmas!

Eastern Market Sewer said...

One year (1960) my mother "decorated" the outside of our house by painting "Bah Humbug" in big letters on kraft papaer. Neighbors were scandalized. We thought it was real funny.

I do enjoy the celebration of Christmas, but hate the over commercialization of what should be a more simple holiday. I try to stretch my gift giving out over a longer period of time and even year round. Any time in January is still fair game....Russian Christmas is Jan. 6 and then the 12 days of Christmas FOLLOW. So Jan 18 is still good.

Mostly agree with you. Too much pressure, feelings of obligation, uptightness, and going thru the motions. Not good at all.

LynCC said...

Yep. Oh, how I *despise* having to put out so much money on gifts for everyone. We just can't afford it! "So make things for people." The time simply does not exist, either, to make nice-enough-for-gifting things for every person we are expected to give presents to. We are going to cut back the gifts to ourselves, too, and focus on the REAL heart-felt parts of the holiday that I do love: music, decorating and lighting activities together, party game nights, extra service projects in the community, etc. Instead of spending time at discount sales trying to find things we can pay off within two months, let's sit in front of the TV with the fire on, cutting out snowflakes or crocheting ornaments while we watch "Noel" or "Rudolph". :D

Kate C said...

Oh I loved reading this! I feel the same way, and am married to a "Christmas-aholic"....it seems it is never enough, enough gifts, enough lights, enough food....
I also do not have a religious reason for the holiday, but it amazes me that anything that is allegedly spiritual is so about commercialism!
Oh, and your quilting is truly amazing!

Rebecca Grace said...

Hmmm... I think that what you hate about Christmas is the commercialization, materialism and guilt that besmirches Christmas. I'm with you on that, and I have scaled way back on gift giving this year for that reason. For our family, Christmas IS a religious celebration, and pressure to spend more than you can afford on gifts to "show you appreciate" every single person you have ever come in contact with is a huge distraction that has totally eclipsed the Advent season. I am so sick of songs like Santa Baby, and the commercials relentlessly driving home that Christmas is all about having enough gifts, and having the right gifts. Honestly, I don't understand why anyone who is not a Christian should feel obligated to purchase any Christmas gifts at all. I certainly don't feel societal pressure to buy anyone Hanukah presents, after all! Oh, and one more thing -- the reason no one gives you handmade gifts is because the things YOU make are so staggeringly beautiful that they don't feel they could make anything worthy of you! :-) I hope you enjoy your Christmas music and time with your family despite all the negatives.