Friday, December 3, 2010
on memories and simplifying
Last night I went to a MOPS meeting where the Pastor spoke on simplifying Christmas. At the time I didn't share too much in the large group, I was busy stuffing the desserts into my mouth, but it got me thinking about my favorite memories from Christmas, what I want my house to feel like on Christmas, and what I would like my children to take with them when they have families.
My Favorite Christmas Memories:
My Grandmother Gregorich would send a huge box of homemade candies, cookies and cakes mid-December. She must have cooked for weeks and from what I understand, without a single written recipe. In the box were tins of gingersnaps and waffle cookies, chocolate peanut butter balls, anise candy, divinity, peanut brittle and so much more. My mother would put the tins in the garage(I'm from the Midwest, that's where you put things in the winter to stay fresh and frozen), and I would sneak out and take part of all the goodness, and then some more. My all time favorite, the chocolate peanut butter balls.
The Advent calendar. Just the cheap paper ones, shaped like a gingerbread house. I loved opening up the flap to see the little chocolate inside.
Paper Chains. The anticipation of the whole event was usually the very best part.
These are simple memories, nothing to do with the gifts. The most vivid memory I have of the actual day was when I was probably seven years old and my sister had me in a complete spass Christmas Eve because I wasn't in bed when Santa's sleigh was on the news weather map over the state of Iowa. She had me nearly peeing my pants because I was certain he had flown over our house because I was still up. The last year I believed. Devastating.
How old do I sound when I say that was a different time. We all know how crazy the world has gotten. I feel manipulated most of the year by the media, by department stores, by Target. This time of year is even worse. This is how I try to stay sane.
I order a lot of gifts on-line. Time is money(and as Asher likes to remind me-I don't get an allowance every week). I get crabby when I have to go to 50 thousand stores for one toy.
I really try not to leave my house. I don't want to sound like a crazy recluse, but do you ever look around at all the people shopping? I feel very "affected" by them. I wonder where their money comes from, why are they buying gifts for great uncle Jim and second cousin once removed Joyce. You can't pay me to walk into Walmart from November 1st to January 1st. I mean it hurts my heart.
I don't buy for that many people. Like a lot of families, we have really stopped buying for anyone other then our kids and nieces and nephews. My side of the family concentrates more on birthday gifts than Christmas ones.
We dispelled Santa Claus. We sat down with the kids this year and told them there was not a Santa Claus. For the past couple of years I have really had a hard time making any sense of the relationship between Santa and the birth of Jesus. I like St. Nick, but lets be honest, he is a tad misrepresented in Santa Claus. We decided that in order for us to celebrate Christmas with a completely joyous heart we had to kick the big red guy to the curb. Don't get me wrong. He is still a fun part of Christmas. Like Batman is a fun part to Saturday morning cartoons. I just can no longer justify telling the boys that Santa is watching, and that they need to make the "good" list and that he will come down the chimney and tip toe through the house while they are asleep. We didn't want to take the "magic" of Christmas away from them. We just want to give them more "magic" to the season for years to come. Starting more sooner than later seemed to make sense.
We keep what we spend on ourselves in balance to what we give to others. I know parents walk away from Christmas feeling beat up and abused. I understand the guilt that people feel after the party is over and they are left with the bill. Yuck. Everyone I know is trying the best they can to give more to others. One thing we did a few years ago was sponsor a little girl in Africa. The yearly payment we give comes due in December and it's a good reminder to stay grounded with my own children's gifts and strive to give charities even more than the year before.
I want my kids to remember the carefree joy of being a child at Christmas. I want them to talk about my chocolate peanut butter balls for years after I am gone. I want them to remember what it feels like to get exactly what they asked for, because their mom cared enough to listen. I eventually want them to really understand how much better it feels to give than to receive.