As a child, I never understood why adults were so stressed out about the holidays, and especially, Christmas. After all, it is a time of giving, joy, fun, food, presents and all-round merriment. Isn’t is?
I remember times when we didn’t see a family member or two, most likely, because of one misunderstanding or another. My own parents were frantically shopping, wrapping and having conversations about “don’t forget so and so, did you get them something?” Stressful conversations abounded about the food to be ordered and retrieved from the various shops.
Every year, without fail, my mom would say, “This is the last year I’m making these cookies!” as she tossed another pan in the trash that didn’t meet her criteria of taste and consistency. There were the occasional terse words exchanged. And, sometimes there were tears behind closed doors… or even across the table.
I didn’t understand: How did anything else matter? It was Christmas!! [Read More…]
Christmas used to be so simple. My girls would compose and illustrate their letters to the North Pole in their very best flowery handwriting and colorful artistry they could muster – giving Santa great ideas of what to look for in the children’s aisles. “Santa” would find a bunch of toys, games and stuffed animals and put them under the tree and the kids were delighted on Christmas morning. Sigh. If only it were still as easy.
It all gets more and more complicated every year. What makes it so tricky? One sister is 14 – the other is 8 – and the age of Santa Claus is sadly coming to a close.
The teenager has known “the truth” for a few years now – and has been marvelous at playing along for the sake of her younger sibling. But, just like she had to be coerced into dressing up for Halloween and opted to not have an actual themed birthday party this year, she’s not easily convinced of the necessity to sit down and write that letter to Ol’ Saint Nick with her sister. [Read More…]
In November, my daughter went through the Target wish catalogue and slowly chose one or two things she wanted, and then she got on a roll and started putting stickers beside almost everything. She asked if she could help decorate the house for Christmas, and to keep my sanity I sent her to help my husband put up a garland on our railing.
The tree was mostly done when she came back to help me, and I gave her some snowflakes to spread around randomly on the tree, she again stared off slowly. A few minutes later, I was finding snowflakes bunched on the same branches and all in a concentrated tiny section. The perfectionist in me twitched as I asked her if she could see anything she could change up and she replied ‘no’ with a big smile.
This year, I am seeing life through the eyes of my 5 year old. I am continuing to educate myself to try to provide her with what she needs as she takes big leaps on her journey. [Read More…]
My son’s Christmas list seems to get bigger with each passing year. I find myself longing for the days when opening a pack of play-do made him happy and he would want nothing more than to dive into the squishy stuff at hand, never paying any mind to the pile of presents that still awaited him under the tree. These days, I find myself confronted with a nine year-olds’ inquisitive mind about all subjects albeit one that he and I know he would prefer to keep in the naïve land of childhood innocence.
The Moral Dilemma
So how long do I pretend? My nineteen year-old daughter recently let me know that she was on to me by age eight because she questioned why mommy and Santa had the same handwriting. I was never one for wrapping or writing in disguise. It was always done in a mad rush a few nights before while my husband would put her to bed. I never thought to distinguish my handwriting on those ridiculous “to and from” tags bought in 100 packs at Walmart. I must say I was horrified. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I implored. “Come on Mom, admit to the “No Santa” idea? That would certainly cut down on presents.” [Read More…]
On the outside of the boxes it says “SANTAS” in bright red letters. The corners of the boxes are reinforced with duct tape, since the contents get a little heavier each year. A musty smell clings to these two hat-sized boxes. Now, however, it’s time for the boxes’ annual unveiling.
Opening the boxes, I touch crumbled tissue paper and old, yellowed newspaper. I unwrap the first one and smile. It is one of the 30 Santas—one for every year my husband and I have been together—that are nestled together for safekeeping. It’s Christmas time and here comes Santa Claus!
When I was newly engaged, my husband and I attended a family friend’s home for an annual Christmas get together. Going to “Mrs. J’s” house was always fun, delicious, and filled with laughter and memories of our childhood. That particular Christmas, I noticed her collection of Santas. [Read More…]
In the short time my kids have been alive we have spent three holidays in an emergency room. Three. The first one came as my youngest was just being diagnosed with his five anaphylactic food allergies. We were at the playground over a long holiday weekend.
My son, then a toddler, decided to sample a peanut butter sandwich that was on the tray of a stroller. He wound up having an anaphylaxis and I used his Epi-pen on him to save his life. Every single professional I encountered at the hospital told me over and over that I had saved my son’s life that day. It is something I can never forget. [Read More…]
I am very opinionated about Christmas tree lights. Flashing is not permitted in our house. Period. I wish I could also stop the flashing going on with the kids I work with at this time of year. Parties, treats, memories, disrupted schedules, past trauma, all combine to make the human equivalents of having left a bucket of kerosene soaked rags in the basement. One little spark and—boom! It’s a tangled mess of emotion, exhausted parents, and zipped up kids. [Read More…]
It’s Christmas time, and my kids are 2 and 4. Magical, as everyone keeps telling me. This is the year. They must be so excited. And they are, I assure you. But boy, the pressure is really on ME now to live up to the hype. Traditions must be kept, or started. Decorating the house, buying the tree, the advent calendars, the gingerbread houses, the Christmas books. As each special thing happens, I wonder, hmmm, does this mean I have to do this again next year? Paper chains until they are how old? And, crap, I forgot to string the Christmas cards – is it too late? [Read More…]
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything thy goodness sends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
Leave it to a seemingly-clueless sixth-grade boy, who still needs to be reminded of some of the basic principles of functioning in life, such as the importance of brushing one’s teeth before leaving the house in the morning, or using something other than one’s shirt to wipe one’s mouth, to come home enthusiastically sharing the wisdom of his newly-discovered gift of an old poem, which pretty much sums up what is truly important, a flurry of words so crystal clear in simplicity and truth, reminding us of what really matters. [Read More…]