The holiday season is here! If you’re old like me, you find yourself saying, once again, “I can’t believe it’s already November. Where did the year go?” If you love the holiday season like me, you are also excited that the holiday season is here. Canada has already celebrated Thanksgiving, and Halloween and Election Day have just passed in the U.S. The next big U.S. holiday is, of course, Thanksgiving.
The holiday season is also the birthday season in my world. From October – March it’s a non-stop birthday celebration. I used to be one of the few summer birthday people that I knew. Now that I’m married, half of the family have birthdays during birthday season, and the other half of the family has birthdays in the summer. I’ve always felt sorry for people who had birthdays around the holidays because their birthdays are overshadowed by the big holidays, especially if you’re born around Christmastime. That’s why I try to make a point of giving separate Christmas and birthday presents to Christmas babies. Plus, there are so many great sales during the holiday season that it should be easier to shop for holiday season babies.
Oh and shopping. There’s the neverending fight between shopping vs. meaningful holidays. I really don’t think that they are mutually exclusive. I believe you just have to be aware of the meaning in holidays and you have to try to share that meaning with others when you are giving gifts. This is especially tricky with kids because they are naturally inclined to just want stuff, lots and lots of stuff. If we don’t teach them to be grateful for what they have and to think about what they can give and do for others, then they turn into ungrateful adults who have the nerve to think they can actually criticize gifts given to them and favors done for them. That is the type of attitude that kills the holiday spirit and turns everything into a debate about the “true” meaning of any given holiday in a bad way.
I am American and I celebrate Thanksgiving. I love the food. I love time off from work. I love spending time with my family and friends. When I plan Thanksgiving at my house, I always try to do it as low key as possible, but then find myself stressing myself out by trying to cook everything perfectly and make the house look immaculate. I do it to myself. Not once has anyone ever criticized me for not having enough food, the right food, a dirty home, ugly decorations, etc. It’s all in my head. With the kids, I’m trying to be more aware of that and remember that if I stress myself out over this crap that doesn’t matter, then they will learn to stress themselves out over crap that doesn’t matter as well. Just as bad, they may start stressing others out about crap that doesn’t matter and think they are entitled to criticize the cooking and entertaining abilities of others. So, I’m trying not to pass stress and judgement on to my kids.
Then there’s Christmas. Let me say now that I am not Crhstian but I do celebrate Christmas. I grew up Christian, spent many years in a crisis of faith, and have finally found myself in a good spiritual place, the details of which I am not going to delve into during this post. I celebrate Christmas because it’s what I grew up with and it represents a time of giving and spending time with loved ones for me. When I had the Great Santa Claus Crisis around the age of 10, my mother told me that she believed in Santa Claus because he was the spirit of giving. So, no matter how old you were, you should always believe in Santa Claus. No matter how much or how little you got in your stocking, you should always believe in Santa Claus. I decided to adopt that belief as my own.
We just had the kids write their letters to Santa because we won’t see them much in November and we wanted to make sure that Santa had plenty of time to get their letters. They asked for some surprising gifts, but also had interesting conversations with Santa. Dora was concerned that Santa might not like the milk and cookies she wants to leave for him. Minecraft told Santa that if he were lucky, he would get cookies and milk. Lego just wanted to know if Santa and Mrs. Claus were doing okay up in the North Pole. They all decorated their letters with colorful pictures and included phrases like, “Santa’s #1!” Three years ago, their letters to Santa just told Santa what they wanted. It might not seem like much, but to see their thought processes go from “Here’s what I want,” to “How are you. Here’s what I might do for you. I think you’re great!” is pretty cool. They also helped each other write their letters, with no help from Ben or me. We did have to get onto them once for arguing over marker colors, but they worked together well otherwise. Now, I can add cooperation, mental growth, and emotional growth to the great things that Santa represents for me.
As I typed this, it was about 6:30 AM and I had been awake for three hours with a terrible headache. The kids were just picked up for school by their bio-mom and Ben had just left for work. The cat was running circles around the house, chasing invisible toys. The Excedrin has moved from making my head a bit numb to making me rather dizzy and the cat has begun her grooming routine, signaling that she is ready to curl up with me for her morning nap. I’m going to take the cat’s advice to end this post and get some rest. I hope that you are as excited about the holiday season as I am and that it holds as much meaningful promise for you as it does for me. Happy Holidays!