Thursday, December 5, 2013

winter holiday, simple and slow!

When I was little my mom who really is a Saint had a breaking point. It was way beyond a wet slobbery shedding St. Bernard smuggled inside through the clean laundry because we thought she was cold.  Beyond a forest of Christmas trees drug home from the curbside pick up & erected in our yard.  Even past... well, a lot of things I would rather not mention.  Where was her breaking pointing? The movie the Outsiders.  I'll skip the logical path of emotional deterioration & go right to the kill point: YOU KIDS ARE SO SPOILED!!!!

My mom was raised on the west side of SLC on a small farm (Oh, isn't that where I live now?!).  She didn't walk to school uphill both ways like some parents she actually had a really hard childhood: one dress for school, stood hours in the snow under dressed for buses which bused the poor kids around from school to school, she worked for everything she ever had.  And us? raised in the affluent Harvard Yale District of SLC. She is so right we were very spoiled!

I am nothing like my mom, I have a million breaking points one of which is kids with hiccups! But like my mom (& thousands of others mothers out there) spoiled children is a huge annoyance especially if they are yours and you are the one who spoiled them! I'd like to think we haven't spoiled our kids.  We've loved them.  We've bought them things.  We've said No, and then said Yes. We are parents.

Enter Christmas.  I have struggled with Christmas for years.  When the Big Kids were little kids & the Santa myth was revealed as hoax I rejoiced.  When we started all over again with Boo I did something very bold I refused to resurrect Santa.

Here is my standard line: The spirit of Santa is real through the generosity of the Christmas season just like all the Disney Characters are real at Disneyland.  Then I add in the story of Alexis at preschool, Christmas already bought & paid for, new expensive destructive baby brother at home, & she asked for a new doll.  Through the 'magic' of sending preschoolers' lists to a charity she got the doll we couldn't not have gotten for her, that is how the spirit of Santa is real.
The End. 

Christmas mostly stays the way it is, lots of doing & a couple more gifts under the tree than intended. More stress over letting people down with a 'bad' gift, stress over holiday food bills, and secret Santa gifts.

Despite my underhanded attempts one year to pull the Wise Men card telling the kids "3 gifts was good enough for the Lord it should be good enough for you."  Unfortunately they were old enough to remind me how ludicrous of an argument that was seeing how I am Agnostic.

It would have all been fine & I could move on overlooking those extra gifts and taking on the stress if it wasn't for that damn Laura and her Little House!  Those kids are happy to get mittens and one stick of candy!!!! If you have known me for any amount of time you have heard me exclaim this before.  It baffles me, amazes me, sets me ablaze. MITTENS?!?! Do you get it, how wonderful that is?!  How amazing to live in a moment where the coolest thing on the planet is the way a mitten feels on your hand.

 That is the gift I want to give my children.  It is the gift I search for every year through the incredibly thick commercialism of a beautiful season.
I don't hate gifts.  I dislike the idea of all at once.  We simply don't live our lives like that.  If I find a book BC would love I wrap it and put it on his pillow.  If he finds a coffee mug he knows I would like he brings it home to me.  I don't want to wait to enjoy life as it is right now today.  I don't want to wrap gifts & hope that among the other things one gets on Christmas morning they will each be felt as the separate little pieces of love that they are meant to be.  I want to give a gift  for no reason at all, when no matter what it will be the best gift ever, for right then, for the NOW.

The goal over here for our Winter Holiday is a predictably small tree with a few gifts below, ski free after 3 at Alta all season, sled, skate, snow shoe, cookies, pudding, cranberries, cards, crafts, family, snow men, laughter, blankets, hot pots, movies, story telling, books, & music.

Please don't worry about Boo, don't send gift cards to make up for what she isn't getting; she will be just fine.  In fact the kid who loves rocks more than toys added fuel to the fire when she said completely unsolicited driving past a big box store at the tender age of 8, "You know the stores favorite times are holidays when they get everybody to buy things they don't need."

So here is to the start of our Winter Holiday, simple and sweet.

*This post was revised from Hiking Without Happy Meals, Making Simple Simple Nov 2011, mlb 


  1. I love the sentiments behind this post. We also don't do a huge, commercial Christmas. The kids get 2 gifts - one from Santa and one from us. Plus books - they always get books - lots and lots of books. It's my weakness.

    And when I tell people this they are horrified - what only 2 presents under the tree? But of course with a few bits and pieces from friends and family it works out to be more like 6 -8 per kid, and the girls love it. They take time to appreciate and enjoy every single one. They are not overwhelmed or gobbled up in a huge whirlwind of consumerism - Christmas is about hanging out with family.

    And I love the pics of Boo skiing.
    More families should make time to 'do stuff', not just 'buy stuff'.

  2. Oh, i'd love to have your Christmas, it sounds perfect! My family are very into the horribly commercial 'big pile of gifts, Santa, and overspending' that goes along with the holidays. We've been caught up in it since Hannah was a baby and it's almost impossible to escape now. I'm so torn between desperately not wanting to disappoint, and desperately wanting a different Christmas! Yours will be lovely, simple and sweet is perfect!