Christmas is the time of year...


Ray Charles said, "Christmas is the time of year, for being with the ones you love." I was fortunate to have been able to fulfill Mr. Charles's Christmas prophesy this year, but unfortunately not with the Spirit of Christmas that he was likely singing about. I've never been one to fully get into the Christmas spirit; always just getting by with as little decor as possible and fretting and complaining about what to get for others. I usually end up having a Blue, Blue, Blue, Blue Christmas by the time the day has come and gone because I've reached a max on just how much over-doing I can take. It's no secret, I just don't enjoy Christmas (you'll see here I'm not much better about New Years).

I thought, when I'd finished shopping in late November that I'd done really well for myself this year. When Christmas day actually arrived and I realized I'd really skimped on gifts compared to what I received, I felt horrible. I didn't intend to skimp. I didn't plan to deliberately leave someone(s) out, but I simply cannot (apparently) remove my mindset of "what could I possibly get for so and so that they don't already have or wouldn't just get for themselves?"  I really struggle with the pressure of finding something special for someone just for the heck of it, because it's a list that needs checked off. I think some people have a beautiful talent for gift giving and I applaud them for it. I just do not have that skill and it takes everything I have to come up with something anything to give someone and as a result I fall short 99% of the time. So my Christmas gifts usually stink. Here, I got you a book, or a mug, or as Jake usually says, "check your email. I sent you a gift card." Worse, this year I found myself saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't get you anything," more times than I really feel comfortable admitting.

Whyyy for the love of all things Holy Night, do we have to do this to ourselves? I know, some enjoy it. I get it. As my dear old dad said, "this should just be about the kids." I couldn't agree more. I was, perhaps the only time this month, excited for my kids to wake up on Christmas morning. That was what it was all about, right? Then, as I watched almost every gift be "meh'd" and tossed aside, my excitement waned. If this was supposed to be just for them and they weren't digging it either, then what was the point? Though they've warmed up to their gifts and have been playing, coloring, and reading with Christmas gizmos non stop for the last couple of days, I honestly think that the happiest I saw them on Christmas was when they were enjoying time with family. That is when I saw their faces light up, their eyes squeezed shut with a big hug of love to a grandparent, and laughter and cheer while they ran and played with cousins and uncles (with nothing in their hands). Will they remember this or the stuff? As a test, I just asked my almost six year old, "do you remember what you got for Christmas last year?"  Her response, "um, no way."  Sigh.

My little family got some really thoughtful gifts this year all of which are VERY appreciated. I appreciate the time and thought that went into each thing that my kids or myself opened.  I apologize for not being equipped with enough social grace to return the gesture.  I know that for the future I need to get better at this because if American's spent 8 billion on Christmas this year, the pressure is not going to get any easier.  I'm just glad I have a few hundred more days until I have to worry about this all over again. I hope that those who were on the receiving end of my gift-giving or complete lack there-of know that I love them dearly despite how it may have been reflected in gift form.  If it were up to me, we'd show our love with a good story and a laugh while enjoying a warm meal. The rest would all be fluff.