Monday, December 12, 2016

The Great Christmas Race

by H. Linn Murphy

Every Christmas we join the mad rush to buy just the right Christmas presents around oh...Christmas Eve if you're my husband. It drives me nuts. I try to start doing things much earlier in the year, but it comes to no avail.  He's very rigid about what he wants for gifts (that is such a foreign concept to me. It should be a PRESENT, not an order) and won't make a list until about three days before Christmas Eve. The years I've bought things not on his list have been tough. You should have seen what happened the year I bought him a used row boat. A few weeks ago he almost sold it to some guy from the street.

One year I'd gone  to garage sales and gotten things for everyone I knew they'd like. The Hubs looked at what I'd gotten them and began what has become his new tradition. We have to do what seems like a spread sheet. There are rows for music, games, clothing, movies, books and miscellaneous. I plug stuff I've bought into its little slot and write down the price of that thing. Then he totals the line until we've spent basically the same amount on everyone.

It sounds all neat and democratic. It actually means that all those things I bought at garage sales or made don't fit neatly into any slot, and thus frustration. It means that he goes out to try and make his sheet total up. It means that after the beautiful dinner and the live nativity scene and the watching Santa on NORAD and taking Crazy Mary home, that we spend the rest of the night 'til around 5:30am wrapping presents. Which also means I'm stone dead for the whole of Christmas day.

And I hate it.

We're talking zombie apocalypse here. And the kids, until last year insisted on coming to get us up and the crack of freaking dawn. Last year was the first time ever that they decided to sleep in. Which gave me around three hours of sleep. Unfortunately now I have a new child--the dog, who wakes me up about 5:30am to play countless games of Keep-the-dog-ball-away-from-Heidi-while-still-making-her-stay-outside-to-throw-it. 

Last year I did one small change. I made the kids help me wrap presents (not their own, of course). It helped immensely. Then we were only up until about three am. So that's my dream for this year--early wrapping.

This is what I'd actually like to do:

*We start early. *We make things, or shop sales or maybe shop online. (What would actually be really hilarious is if we gifted them with their own take to whatever place they decide to call home.) *Then if there are a few little things, we go together and have fun finding them. *We then wrap them together very early (before December) so that we can enjoy a Spirit-filled Christmas, full of service, music, good food, friends, and family and most of all, Christ

In fact, I'd almost like to celebrate Christmas on the 27th. After all, we don't actually celebrate Christ's birthday on the correct day anyway (it's actually around April 6th). Because that's when the buy Buy BUY season goes bye-bye. The massive doses of silly shows end (I absolutely HATE that Mr. Freeze from Frosty 2 and the song that goes with it even more. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas) and the pressure with it. It's that dead time which, if done right, could be filled with peace and joy and the actual celebration of Christ's birthday instead of Mammon's.

Please don't get me wrong. I love Santa and presents and so many other aspects of Christmas. I love the traditions we have. I just don't love the pressure for all of it to be perfect, instead of how we treat each other being perfect.
This is what will really happen:

Now they've got boy/girl friends or spouses or any number of other places to go on Christmas. All our carefully constructed traditions will systematically be blown out of the water and we'll find ourselves on Christmas Eve (or day) waving at the receding car like the parents on FIDDLER ON THE ROOF as their girls go off to the Ukraine or some other back-of-beyond place. It already started to happen that way last year. Somebody has to go to another house on Christmas since they came to ours on Thanksgiving. Somebody doesn't want to dress up for the Nativity Scene so they trundle off to the boyfriend's house. And suddenly it was just the youngest who only wanted to play video games. It was a little empty. I know that's life, and I know I used to wish they were more grown up about things, but this is now.

I worry about what will happen when the kids all leave. What will Christmas look like then? I already get a glimpse when we go to church by ourselves. Lots of times we don't even ride together. I guess there is such a thing as too much peace on earth. Maybe.

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