Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy Holidays

I really and truly love the holiday season, perhaps more than is healthy. I start celebrating it in October full swing, and think about it all year. I love it. We had a birthday party for Andrew's little friends, and even buying the red and green crafty things for the goody bags brought me more joy than you can imagine.

I hear a lot of criticisms about Christmas, one of them being the materialism. I don't really see that. Maybe because my family, even extended family, isn't too wrapped up in that. So it doesn't poison it in the least. For the fake Christmas with Tom and Candy, each kiddo went through all the motions of Christmas Eve (cupcake and cocoa for Santa, wearing the holiday PJs, etc) and then woke up to one present. A toy power drill for Andrew and a Spiderman bike helmet for Jack. They were both elated and seemed to have a complete sense of joy from the limited gifts. We're doing another round for real, with a space train set and train table, but that was a nice reminder that my children aren't really primed to need piles of gifts to complete the day. If that had been the actual day, it was absolute perfect just the way it was.

Others are concerned about the religious reasons for Christmas, but that doesn't bother me either. I mean, spirituality for us isn't tied into Christmas at all. I know that's some persons' criticism in itself, but that season for Jesus seems to imply a lack of some religiosity or spirituality rest of the year. Sadly, I think our society often need more reasons to focus and connect with our loved ones (like the ones far away). If we had a religious holiday removed from Christmas, I think we should still keep this food/family/love day in its place. It warms up the chilly months.

Around here, it's all about family and memories. It's why I can extend the holiday into several months. Making homemade gifts with the kids feels like a celebration on its own. Pulling recipes from magazines. Brainstorming meaningful gifts for everyone. Finalizing the holiday card addresses, and thinking individually about all the great people in our lives and wondering where they're at this year and how they're doing.

Anyway, I love everything about Christmas. Christmas cards. Christmas sweaters for the boys found on clearance in January the year before. ;) Everything but malls and shopping, which is why I love internet shopping. The joy of the perfect present for someone, without the headache.

This is the first year we have a tree, thanks to Jackie. We've been moving around too much to buy a tree, and I'm allergic to the real ones (or the mold on it or whatever...who knows). I don't have the guts to decorate it with little fingers around, but there are about 10 favorite ornaments huddled on the top of the tree. And no lights. A bit Charlie Brown, and yet I still love having it up. Next year, I'm going full Griswold on it. ;)

I remember going and looking at Christmas lights as a kid, all piling into the car in our PJs. Back then, the homes just looked like a miracle that created itself. Now as an adult, I realize how much time and effort those people put into making those displays for the families who might drive by. It's like a Christmas gift to everyone. Last night, after I took the kids to Winter Wonderland, Jack fell asleep in the car. Andrew needed to...he was SO tired...but he persisted awake and just had a glazed over look. I think he was too hungry to sleep, as he kept asking for more food. Simone was sleeping, but I feared she'd wake if I went home...and then I'd be putting Andrew down while I needed to nurse Simone (ah, the choreography of mothering when Dad is gone late). So I kept driving.

For two hours Andrew and I looked at Christmas lights. 43rd Street lit up the whole street, which was beautiful. The rest was just hit or miss, burning fuel as I drove up and down neighborhoods and waited for the glowing down a street and deciding where to turn. Andrew was really getting into it, pointing out new ones and saying: "See those, Mommy?" It turned out to be a really nice time with little Andrew.

Steve has games all week, so I'll have the bedtime dance every night. I might cheat again, take them driving, and bring along thank you cards to stick in mailboxes. I imagine they'd appreciate knowing that they brought some joy from those hours on a ladder hanging lights.


Completely random story, but I want to remember it...
Jack and I were talking about treats, and I mentioned brownies being a treat. Jack: "But brownies aren't a treat!"

Me: "They're not? So then what are they?"

Jack: "Breakfast!"

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