Casual Christmas

Casual Christmas

I have always loved How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, not the Jim Carey mockery). Every year, my siblings and I would stay Thanksgiving night at my Mema’s house so my parents could get up early and do their Black Friday shopping without kids. We would spend Black Friday decorating Mema’s house for Christmas: putting up the tree, getting out all of her little Coca Cola polar bear and Santa figurines, hanging the stockings, etc. and the whole time we’d have the Grinch playing on TV in the background. As I got older, I began to understand the moral of the story and I started to see the irony in our tradition.

Over the years I’ve begun to get very annoyed with the extreme commercialization of Christmas. It’s always about what you got or how much you spent rather than being about spending time with your family. I’m not religious, so the Christ part of Christmas doesn’t appeal or apply to me. The idea that this is a time of year where families are meant to gather around the table and spend quality time together does resonate with me. I’ve actually started to hate the way my parents (mostly my mother) do Christmas. My mom has a set amount of money she spends on each of her four children, then a second number for each of their spouses, and then an even higher, outrageous number for each of her grandkids. She easily spends thousands of dollars on presents every year. That is absolutely insane to me. Insane.

My siblings, their spouses, Hubby and I have all started a Secret Santa style tradition, instead of buying each person something. For the last several years, you only buy for your Secret Santa. I think it’s so much better because you get to put time and thought into your gift rather than just trying to find something for everyone.

This is the first year that Connor will really understand any of the Christmas stuff. I’m really excited to make cookies for Santa and use the Santa tracking apps with him. At his first Christmas, I felt guilty that we didn’t spend a ton and buy him a crapload of gifts. I compared our little family Christmas to that of our friends with kids of a similar age and I thought that we had cheated Connor. Then I watched the Grinch with him and remembered why I don’t like Christmas these days. It shouldn’t be about what he gets, or how much we spend on him. That’s not the point of the holiday season.

Since that day, I’ve decided that our little family will focus more on spending time together and less on spending money. Hubby has to work every Christmas Eve, sometimes until late in the evening (last year, I think he got home around 10:30 at night). We spend Christmas Eve bouncing between my family and Hubby’s, thankfully both Christmases are celebrated down the street from each other, and Hubby joins us as soon as he gets off work. This year, I’m adding a new tradition: making and decorating cookies for Santa. We’ll do it at my mom’s house, so the boys will have a little something extra to do and show off when their dad gets there.

As for gifts for the boys, we will give them both one “big” item each (no more than $20 because, let’s face it, they’re young and really don’t care) along with a couple books to share and an outfit or two. Call me cheap, or say I’m ruining Christmas for them, I don’t care. I want my kids to grow up valuing the time we spent with them and the memories we made around the holidays. They aren’t going to remember how much money we spent on them, but they will most certainly remember how much time we spent with them. Time is invaluable and precious. It should be spent showing those you love just how much you enjoy being with them. You can’t put a number on it and we shouldn’t be forced to try.

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