It’s 98 days until Christmas. Did you realize that? It feels so far away because it is still so stinking hot, but it’s going to creep up on me if I don’t start paying attention. Our fall is packed, which seems to have become our normal state. I love spending the holiday season (which starts for us in October) celebrating with our family and friends, and our calendar reflects that.
I’ve already started Christmas shopping. It feels weird to be worrying about it already, but I get terribly overwhelmed if I leave it to the last minute. I end up buying myself all kinds of consolation gifts because I exhausted and flustered and trying to fulfill the expectations of people I love, and my willpower is shot, and, hey, we’re spending all this money anyway, so why not? Much better to have as much shopping out of the way as early as possible while I’m still under control and I can walk away from all those little treats calling my name.
I have my girlfriends and my dad checked off and I’ve already bought mini-trees and decorations to go in the kids’ rooms. I actually have an idea for Manly too, which is a relief because he’s notoriously hard to shop for. The kids are still easy – toys and candy and a few books, and they’re good. Our kids end up with a ton of things from all the family, so we try to hold back on them some. After the stockings and Santa and gifts from us and each other and their grandparents and cousins, we’re swimming in presents.
I wonder sometimes if we give our kids too much, not just at Christmas, but all year round. I grew up in a house where money was always tight, so I know how it feels to want something so bad and know there’s no chance of getting it. Manly has said that his parents never had a lot of money, but that they always bought for the kids first. Between us, we pretty much get the kids what they ask for, and a lot of things that we just think they will enjoy. And of course we do the grownup thing where we buy stuff “for them” that’s really for us (star projector, I’m looking at you). I never want them to worry about money the way I did, but I also don’t want them to feel like they are entitled to all these material things that they get. They are still young enough that Christmas is magic to them, and I hope that stays as long as it can.
The past few years I’ve been trying to do Advent activities with them – just a little activity (or sometimes big) each day. Buying the tree, cutting paper snowflakes, drinking hot cocoa, watching The Grinch, that kind of thing. I’m trying to diffuse some of the excitement throughout the month so that the focus isn’t ALL on presents. And yes, we have an Elf who comes after Thanksgiving and reports their behavior to Santa. They have an Elf hunt every morning to search out where he’s hiding to spy on them (and so they can tattle on each other to make sure the big man knows).
Last year we spent Christmas Day at gramma’s house with all of the family that were in town. I’m so thankful that we did that. This year I’m sure we’ll end up at my IL’s house for dinner, or they will come to us, and it will be nice, but it will be bittersweet. We had planned on taking Finale over and letting her spend her first Christmas with her great grandmother. She’ll be with us in spirit, but it won’t be the same.
Sorry y’all. I was trying for something more light-hearted today, and I’ve circled back around to dead grandmother again. Maybe tomorrow.