maura @ 7:31 pm
Last week I started walking to work again (yay for anti-inflammatories!), which means that I had lots of time to think in the morning. So I thought a lot about my complicated feelings about Christmas. And I believe that I came to some sort of understanding about it all (though I don’t know that I can translate that into any kind of action).
It’s duh to even say this, but Christmas is fun + exciting when you’re a kid. When I was little, our Christmases went something like this: Decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. (Sometimes my maternal grandmother would be there, sometimes she’d be at my aunt’s house.) Presents + breakfast in the morning, not terribly rushed. Around lunchtime (after lunch?) we’d pile in the car and drive an hour or so to my paternal grandparents’ house. I can’t remember if we saw cousins then or not, but my dad’s brothers + parents all lived in the same town. Dinner there, then home.
But that was then; things are more complicated in our modern era. I have 2 siblings (and Gus has 5 cousins), my parents are divorced, Jonathan’s parents are divorced, and everyone lives in a different state. Before Gus was born we did a pretty strict every-other-year thing, but of course with all those constituencies there’s no way to avoid multiple locations + celebrations.
Once Gus came along we started trying to have Christmas morning here in Brooklyn (yo), though we haven’t always. Grandparents usually visit, but we’re not really on any kind of schedule these days. We try to arrange things on Christmas-adjacent weekends with whomever we don’t see on Christmas. And Gus’s birthday is at the beginning of December, so it often seems like a month o’ presents.
Add to that mix my increasing stinky hippieness over the past 5 yrs or so and my general dislike of (most) shopping, and it’s hard not to feel like Charlie Brown complaining about Christmas commercialism. I’ve taken some steps to try and deal with it: spending less $, doing the handmade thing when possible, and wrapping gifts in cloth rather than paper. But I still find myself thinking about big pink aluminum trees when the end of the year is nigh.
Part of it is certainly everything there is to DO. We bake cookies as gifts for extended family members, which takes a ton of (mostly Jonathan’s) time. Then there’s the gifts, the tree, decorating, wrapping, mailing, etc. There are things we could do that would take less time, but they would compromise my stingy + crunchy principles.
So what’s the solution? I don’t rightly know. The multiple extended Christmases are probably the heart of the issue for me, and the anti-consumerist hoo-ha the icing on the cake. I wish there were some way we could spend actual Christmas and the few days around it with some family each year, but maybe not run from place to place over the course of a month. And maybe that might mean not seeing some other family members right around Christmas that year, but maybe we could see them at other times? Maybe if we travelled less, the rest of the craziness wouldn’t seem quite so crazy.
But, but, but…I like seeing family at Christmas, even if it’s not on Christmas day. And I like Gus to see family too, esp. since we don’t see everyone all that often.
Maybe EVERYONE should just come to our house. 1300 square feet is plenty of room, right?