After all of the activities leading up to the big day, and then experiencing Christmas morning here at home, Christmas with Jeff's family for lunch the same day, with my mom, brother and sister in law that night and again the next morning, my grandma for lunch on Boxing Day and then with my Dad, brother and sister in law for lunch on the 27th...here are my thoughts.
1. Wrapping Paper is such a waste. I mean yeah, sure it's pretty and all the brightly wrapped packages look great under the tree, beckoning us, creating undeniable anticipation...but seriously, by 7am Christmas morning, all of that beautiful wrapping paper that covered those gifts, a process that takes people HOURS to complete was all in a garbage bag, forgotten. A process that takes mere minutes. Yeah, gift bags are much more practical, at least they can be reused (no, I am NOT one of those "save the wrapping paper kind of people") but gift bags aren't as fun for little kids as ripping through the wrapping paper. And I actually LOVE wrapping presents...but after seeing bag after bag of crumpled up wrapping paper throughout the 3 days, all I could think about was what a waste it is. So next year I pledge to be even just a bit more creative. I tried making wrapping paper with Makenna a few years ago by painting and stamping brown Kraft paper but really, that was more work than it was worth. It still ends up in the trash.
2. It is amazing how not allowing your young children to overindulge in chocolate, sugar, candy and crap, prevents them from spending their (and your) Christmas puking. And by "not allowing", I mean, being absolutely anal about it - to your children, and to anyone who may come in contact with them. Being ruthless and not caring if someone thinks you are being too hard on them and not buying the "Oh, it's Christmas, its okay" speech. After 6 years, the message is starting to get across. It is only okay now to safely say we made it through Christmas without either of our kids puking.
3. There IS too much of a good thing. Toys are a good thing. But we have too much. Too many. We have multiples of the same thing - none of which get played with. We have stuff the kids have no interest in, and I doubt they ever will, but we have it, because someone budgeted a certain amount of money to them and this item fit the budget, or was a filler, or was easy, or filled some desire the buyer had, or...or...or...
I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I am very grateful. My kids are very well loved and I am so blessed that they have so many giving people in their life.
But honestly? my kids would be just as happy with one or two gifts from each person. Gifts they were really interested in, really wanted. And if there was money still left over in the gift giving budget, I would be thrilled, thrilled, to put that money into their RESPs, or toward their YMCA memberships, or to enroll them into skating lessons or a summer camp, etc...something they would REALLY benefit from, long term. I know that if I want to put them into skating or into summer camps then that is my decison and others shouldn't have to pay for it, and I completely agree with that. But I also feel the kids would benefit from that stuff and enjoy it more than having 3 identical lego sets, 7 new puzzles in 3 days, clothes that don't fit, or 10 chocolate Santas and 5 boxes of Smarties. And after at least 4 Christmases and opening gift after gift after gift, my kids are not showing gratitude. They are showing greed. They just want more. They don't care what it is, they just want more. Then I feel the need to purge my home, to get rid of perfectly good stuff, because my kids don't play with half the stuff they have, and because I don't have room for all the new stuff they just got!
I do agree that young children should have gifts to open. Giving young children only money, when they have no understanding of it, is no fun for them. I just think if you are going to spend a lot of money, doing some research would be beneficial...or, buying a small gift and putting the rest of money towards an experience, is just as special. Especially at Christmastime, when there is just SO much.
4. Hosting Christmas at your house can be great. You don't have to travel, don't have to load and reload your vehicle. Your kids can play amongst their own things and are within all the comforts of their own home. If there are leftovers, they are yours if you want them. But when everyone leaves your home, it's your mess to clean up. And if you want to make an early exit, whether it be for a nap, to check out Boxing Day sales, or just for some space - it's your house - you're stuck there till everyone else leaves!
5. For some reason, those whose Christmases were not joyous and happy, were really affecting me this year. I felt a sense of sadness and had a heavy heart for many people who were spending their first Christmas without a loved one. This was my Dad's first Christmas without his mom. This was the first Christmas without their father for the Pham family. For my friend who lost her father earlier this year. For the family of my former grade 7 and 8 teacher. For the families of 2 Chicago firefighters who were killed in the line of duty just days before Christmas. And for some reason, I also felt the loss of my maternal grandfather more deeply this year than in the past. I wasn't alone - my teenage cousin who now lives in Alberta and whose memories of him before his death 9 years ago are limited, also commented on facebook that she missed him this year.
5. Family really is everything. The joy on little kids' faces, spending time with your extended family, visiting with people you don't see often enough and having lots of unrushed time to catch up around the kitchen table over a glass (bottle) of wine, a box of crackers and a jar of red pepper jelly... having everyone together under one roof laughing well past midnight, watching your children deepen the bonds they have with other members of their family...there really is nothing better. That's what makes those whirlwind few days, all the hype leading up to them, and the hurricane that goes through your home throughout the process...
That family piece of it is what makes it worth it and makes it my very favourite time of year.
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