Christmas. I've always wanted it to be the best it could be for my kids. We never lived near relatives, so offering a house full of aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins, only happened when we traveled. But as they grew, I wanted my kids to wake up Christmas morning in their own beds. And I wanted them to wake to a mountain of gifts. So we stayed home, and I loaded up the tree. And I loved it. (or at least the idea behind it.) I was always exhausted.....beyond exhausted (much more exhausted than I would have been had I known I needed to be gluten free, but it was what it was.) I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it "just right." While I'm ready for change now, I wouln't re-do or change those years. Those Christmases were all special.
So here we are, decades in the future. My kids are all grown, and I now have grandkids. But my "traditions" and habits and need to fill the tree with gifts remains.
Change. We are constant beings of change. Routine and family traditions, something I've always worked to establish, have to be flexible. "We've always done it this way" must have room for, "We've always done it this way, but we can tweek it."
This year's Christmas was WONDERFUL! I loved every bit of it, but we recently set a --
Direction for Change for Next Year:
Step 1 towards change)
I never knew when to give up the Christmas stockings, so I didn't----until last year. And I love the new tradition. I buy little $1 gifts (that aren't just crappy little $1 gifts,haha, but useful): batteries, tuna, socks, lottery scratch offs (ok, those aren't useful....).....but fun things. I put them all in a box, and whoever is home gets to join in the fun (girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, of course.) No stress over who to get a stocking for. (Its the little things.) The box gets passed around until its empty. If a gift isn't wanted, throw it back in for someone else who may want it.
This year, this routine was more established, and it was even more fun.
Step 2 towards change)
I watched this year as my youngest grandchild, (21 months) opened his first gifts. WOW! 2 Matchbox cars (from his bag of $1 goodies, as I gave each of my grandkids little treats to open while the grown-ups passed around the "stocking box." 2 little cars, and he was engaged. Zoom, zoom, under the kitchen table and between the kitchen chairs. He was happy as a clam! Who cares that he had several more packages to open. He had all he needed.
But we ruin it, don't we. "Here's another!! Open this one!" He opened up a gift papaw looked hard to find just for him, a pick-up truck pulling a boat, like papaw's. And indeed he LOVVVED it!! Why did he need more? All he wanted to do was play with that truck and boat, but we just kept shoving another present in front of him.
From allowing appreciation for what is received, to making it about "what's next to open," its the adults who set the course. Its not "kids these day," its us.
Step 3 towards change)
Every year, it seems that a personalized gift from one of my kids to one of their siblings or in-laws, brings laughter or a warmed heart. This year, there was a few of those gifts with minimal cost but with such love and sentiment (and humor) behind them. Of course, the pressure of providing such an item to every single person, every single year would be more overwhelming than trying to find the right gift to buy. EEK! No one can be that good! But sometimes the right idea hits. And its those ideas that bring such memories.
So here's the change (and my family is more than on-board):
Next year there won't be an abundance of costly gifts to open. We will have a $1 Grab box again that everyone can contribute to instead. And if someone has a personalized or home-made somethin-somethin they'd like to offer (either in addition to the $1 box or instead of) that would be a bonus. And I'm including myself in this whole change. I'm removing my need to "load up the Christmas tree."
Of course, the grand kids will still have packages to open, but honestly, I will limit what they have to open from grandma, to two or three items. (Actually, from the first year my grand-daughter was born, I decided to give my daughters half of what I would normally spend on Christmas and birthday gifts to put into a college account for them. Its not much, but come college time, there will be some $ there from grandma.)
So there it is. And I can't tell you how excited I am. I will spend the year adding fun little items to my collection of $1 gifts and work on thoughts for something special: a photo, photo album, video, or ------- who knows (maybe nothing special at all, ha!) But no more costly gifts. No more pressure to find that perfect item that may or may not fit, that may or may not be wanted. No more stress of major shopping (in the stores or online.)
I look forward to grounding next year's Christmas:
Family and time together, Food and games, Laughter and love.