Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Hassle : Then why do it?

Oh it's the most wonderful time of the year-- for complaining. I haven't heard too too much of it, but we all do it because it is a very busy time of the year and there's enough stress for everyone to have three bites of or more. Personally I'm tired and just want to get to Christmas so I can start enjoying it, dang it, and so I can stop thinking about what in the world am I going to buy my in-laws?

I liked this essay by Susan Nye, "Christmas is What You Make It". My thoughts exactly!

I heard a radio personality whining about Christmas, and I wanted to reach into the radio, shake her a little and say, "Then why do it?" No one is forcing anyone to celebrate Christmas, buy presents, make cookies, trim a tree, spend a fortune. So why do it?

The part I dread most about Christmas is organizing the schedule. I'm the big sister...I have inlaws...we have best friends coming from New York...we have two traditions with two other families, so there is definitely a lot of friends and family to fit in. But I do it because I want to. It's important to me to fit in everyone somewhere in the week. One year we stayed home, and everyone came to us. It didn't feel quite the same, but it was kinda nice too. Some year we'll have a place that accomodates that again, but until then I am going to make the best of the busy week and enjoy the company, comraderie and relationships, because come January we'll all be hibernating again.

Every year I get a little less commercial. I start thinking in October what I really want to buy everyone. What would they like? What do they need? What can I afford? I don't enjoy shopping if I don't know what I'm looking for, so I don't do it!

Every year I get a little more stingy, and I like it. Did you hear the reports on Black Friday? Someone had $450 worth of merchandise in their cart and they were so pleased with themselves. I'm not sure I even spend $450 each year, unless I include extra groceries or whatever! It's shocking what gets spent on Christmas gifts. And I wonder, do they do it because they love it or because they have to?

I'd rather give what I spend to children in Africa or wherever, but I do get something for everyone on my list because I do enjoy giving, and I see it as only fair. Gifts are a great expression of love for some people. When my Gramma couldn't afford presents a couple of years, it about killed her. To her, Christmas gifts are love. Shopping was always very important to her.

I've been shopping once. I've shopped twice online and twice over the phone, and one more quick trip to my local businesses and I'm done! I've done something this year that I've never done in a holiday season since it has existed in Maine--I've avoided Wal-mart. I hate them anyway. They want to take over the world, they are overstocked on a lot of junk no one really wants or needs, buy toys from China with lead paint in them, and the lines! Forget it. It doesn't bring me or anyone else joy--except maybe the Waltons.

Don't get me started. This year I'm going to my local co-op. (Possibly more on that later.)

So my gifts are Snapfish calendars, tickets to a comedy show, and on sale gifts I know people will like. Plus I shopped early for the kiddos, stuck with a budget for most people, and bought one big thing for my child. I couldn't be happier! No one needed another pair of socks from me. Nope. We need to laugh. I hemmed and hawed, about the tickets but finally decided to just go all out and do something different to make a memory. This year, my family needs it. We don't need Wal-mart, we don't need another flannel shirt or footed pjs, we need to laugh, we need to connect as a family, and we need to do something different.

The other thing I did this year, is give a little more than normal to charity. Try it, you'll like it.

Also I'm not baking for a week so I can gain more weight. Harry and David is piling up at work. Since someone else is doing the confectionary baking for me, why ask for it?

You are forewarned, if you come up to me and start complaining about how much you hate this and that, or you're so busy with that and this, I'm going to ask you , "So why do it?"

If doing those things stresses you out, just isn't meaningful or Christmasy to you, check it off your list for good. Make Christmas the celebration, or not, of what you want it to be.

I really liked it when I heard my cousins saying last year that on Christmas they were taking the kids on a winter hike and then settling in for a simple day at home. I'm not sure when or if many gifts fit into the equation, but for them that was important. Making it a day about being together. Hurray for them!

Let me know, after January 1, what you did to really enjoy your holidays this year.

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