Friday, November 21, 2008

Ho, ho, ho

Okay, that's it! Now it's Christmas. There's snow, one of our neighbours has outdoor lights set up, and Bing is on the loudspeaker at Starbucks, where I am curled up by the fire. And the kicker? Last night, in the tub, Munchkin told us that Santa is on his way, that it is Christmas and there are lovely trees, and under the tree, Santa puts presents for the children.

Right, then.

We've been enjoying Christmas as parents: a six month old is pretty cute in Santa pjs, and is happy to sit around peering into empty gift bags. And eighteen month old enjoys spending time with the grandparents and wearing silly hats, to wit;

But now she's got her own expectations--set by books at daycare, and her friends, and some exposure to, well, the rest of the world--and I feel weirdly stressed ...

Enough, I say! I love Christmas and I refuse to be browbeaten into holiday one-upmanship. Pynchon and I have always made lists for each other, laid groundrules, set budgets, been fantastically explicit about what our expectations are. As a result, we love our holidays. Now we're taking our newest family member into account, and here's what we want: we don't want to overwhelm her with gifts on the morning; we do want her to have fun with the rituals of decorating, and visiting, and baking with her family; we do want to turn her thoughts outward to the happiness of others, with participating in charity; we want to limit the commercialism while maximising the fun.

So she's getting: one present of some new books from Mom; one present of Play-Doh from Dad; and one big present from Santa--this thing:

I think she'll catch one look at this thing and that's all we'll see of her for the rest of the day. My sister's kids always have so much to open that they don't really enjoy anything at all. She's always pulling them off whatever they've just opened and want to play with, and directing them to the next thing, so that now, the morning is not about enjoying what you get, but about doing all the opening, tallying everything up. No thanks, I say.

We'll be heading Way the Hell Up North this year, packing all our modest gifts and expectations into the Echo with us, and I will be lulled into a coma on the four hour drive by the Xmas music I will insist be played on the stereo and by the blasting heat of the defroster that Pynchon will insist be coursing through the vents. It will be snowy and dark outside, warm and bright in my parents' house. We will spend Xmas eve assembling a dollhouse, tiny screws and tiny stickers and tiny batteries. We will place it in front of the tree, where Munchkin will see it first thing in the morning. Grownups will drink coffee and tea, slippered feet up on the couch, reading newspapers and magazines.

Christmas starts now for us. I will enjoy it. Tomorrow, Pynchon will bring down the Xmas boxes from the attic, and Munchkin and I will bedeck the house in bows, and we will talk about our family traditions. Then we'll play outside or go grocery shopping or make muffins. Maybe next week we'll put the gingerbread house together. The time is ours to use as we want, and the season is ours to craft into our own family traditions, our own pace. Less rush, more ritual. Less money, more time. Less stuff, more hospitality. Less greed, more charity.

More fun.

We'll see how long we can hold off the tequila binge.


Jenifer said...

I am so with you on this...we limit our Santa gifts to five each which sounds like a lot, but includes books and smaller items. The girls get gifts from so many family members and friends that keeping things simple Christmas morning is a wonderful relief from the marathon opening and tossing of gifts.

Stick to your guns. Our goal is to create memories and traditions and really that is what they remember long after the gifts are done.

Kyla said...

Santa brought two things each last year. For BubTar, a Nintendo DS (that he didn't ask for) and a much coveted (and inexpensive) Bionicle that we traveled all over hell's half acre to find. For KayTar, she got a dollhouse (HUGE hit, by the way) and baby care stuff. BubTar now believes that Santa brings one thing you've asked for and one SURPRISE thing that you really want, but don't really KNOW that you want. So, really, we just need to be mind readers and we'll do okay this year.

Omaha Mama said...

That last picture is a hoot! :0)
Santa brings our kids two nice gifts and a stocking full of fun this year. It sort of varies year to year, last year they got a few smaller gifts from Santa. Hubs and I are giving the kids a few gifts, nothing too grand. We'll open those the day before Christmas.
I can't even think of Christmas yet though (I've shopped a little) because next week we've got Thanksgiving.

Beck said...

My kids are the only grandkids on either side and they're also pretty much the only young children in the whole extended families, which means that Christmas is RIDICULOUS. The Girl got over NINETY presents last year. Which leaves me speechless, really.
Santa brings my kids a stocking filled with little things and something under the tree. We give them five or six wrapped presents - books, playdough sets, that sort of thing. And then everyone else loses their freaking minds and buys them whatever else is left.

Mimi said...

Beck: NINETY! Holy cow. That's incredible.

Bon said...

i love the sound of the way you do Christmas. we're struggling a bit to frame this year for O...Dave & i have always struggled anyway to find the "right" things for each other, the gift of the heart so to speak, and so our limits haven't always worked...but we're going to try to keep it very simple this year and focus on doing and giving rather than getting. so far he doesn't have much sense of Santa (i expect that'll last about one more week) and all he's asked for is a Christmas hat. awesome.

but we haven't even got into all the messiness of explaining what the holiday is about, given our mix of atheists, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews in our family gathering. i'm hoping we can give him the feeling that it's about family and sharing...but sharing isn't highest on his list of favourite things right now. :)

Redneck Mommy said...

Gah. I don't even want to think about Christmas.

Not in any capacity.

Maybe I'll just crash yours.

Mimi said...

Redneck, c'mon down! We'd love to have you ... but only if you streak your hair a festive purple, you know.

No Mother Earth said...

Tell me that the music you listen to on the stereo includes Boney M. It's not Christmas unless I hear me some Boney M Mary's Boy Child. Good times.

We usually have one big Santa present and several other smaller presents from immediate family. It's gonna be crazy this year with a 4 year old and a 1 year old baby who wakes regularly at 5am.

I want Santa to bring me sleep for Christmas.