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Shrinking Christmas

I’ve been quite absent from the blogging world as of late.  With Christmas just 20 days away, our office Christmas party that I’ve been planning just 24 hours away, and the various stresses of having my pay screwed up, I’ve been purposely avoiding posting anything because it would be nothing but complaints.  Thankfully though, the whiners in my office have mostly quieted down, my husband has done wonders in reducing my silly holiday stress, and our DVR is finally down to a single digit count of recordings.

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Anyone who says the holidays aren’t stressful is either rich and content with being alone, or a dirty liar.  My husband’s extended family in Ohio hosts a Christmas get-together annually, which was one of the things that was getting to me and keeping me from even logging in to this page.  We live furthest away from his grandmother’s house (where it is always held, except for one year when grandma made a reluctant exception to accommodate my sister-in-law and her newborn), so we have to get up incredibly early to make the four hour drive, getting there earlier than anyone else since my mother-in-law has to help cook, and then we have to try to leave at a decent time to drive the four hours back and let our poor dog out so he can get some relief and some food.  Last year, we were sick, which was a blessing in disguise because we didn’t go.  That year, it was decided that rather than just buying gifts like normal, the adults would draw a name and buy up to $50 worth of something for that one person.  As far as the kids, everyone buys for all of them.

I hate this idea.  My husband and I ended up with his uncle (who we see once a year or less) and his sister (which we see much more often, plus we’ll see on Christmas anyway).  My mother-in-law just recently tried to give my husband a stack of gifts for grandma so we could wrap them and pretend they were from us.  Why…. I’m not quite sure, since I got the impression that drawing names was her idea because of her limited income.  Let me be clear; I am an adult and I’m not trying to suck every last dime out of an elderly woman so I have a stack of goodies to unwrap.  I will gladly give up the Yankee candle that she usually gets for me and just be happy with a card and a hug.  I don’t want to be limited to buying gifts just for one person when I’d love to get something for my husband’s younger cousin and when I found something perfect for his aunt.  It’s silly and it’s not what a family Christmas should be like.

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Another reason for the name drawing idea is due to the fact that my husband’s younger cousin (who was just married last year and who isn’t rolling in dough like her sister and my sister-in-law) was unable to afford gifts for anyone but the kids for our 2011 Christmas.  This angered someone who didn’t get a gift, which spawned this awful name drawing idea.  In all honesty, I didn’t even notice that she hadn’t gotten me a gift until it was brought up that someone was cranky.  I saw the gift she got for my son, thought it was adorable, and hoped she liked what I got for her and her husband (then boyfriend).  I was just happy to see her and to see everyone mostly getting along.

Christmas isn’t meant to be about how many gifts you can squeeze out of family members or tallying up how much person X spent on person Y.  The whole point is to spend some quality time together and to have fun.  By putting emphasis on who gets what for who, the fun and the joy is taken out of the day and we’re left with something that isn’t worth an eight hour round trip drive.  My husband has told my mother-in-law that we won’t be going once again this year.  I’ll be sending a bag of gifts for the kids and for my uncle and sister-in-law, but I’m doing it out of obligation and not out of want.  That isn’t what Christmas should be.

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My husband pulled me out of the funk I was in over this Christmas by telling me to quit worrying about people who I see once every 365 days, who I barely know, and who likely won’t care one way or the other if I’m there or not.  He got me focused back on my family HERE and making sure that WE have a fantastic holiday.  Does that sound selfish?  Absolutely, but it’s not meant to.  I’m an atheist, so I’m unmoved by the prayer and bible readings that my aunt has every Ohio Christmas before food and gifts.  I don’t celebrate the day to honor a deity, I celebrate to be with family and to put smiles on the faces of my loved ones.  I don’t celebrate as a way to appease every single person who I associate with, I celebrate to show my love to people who appreciate it fully.  I want my husband and son to have the best Christmas in history and I want to make my mother-in-law smile with some gifts from the heart.

I’m finally not ashamed to say that I am currently guilt free about skipping Christmas in Ohio.  I’m looking forward to spending the day at home with my husband and kid and dog rather than spending 8 hours in the car, all of us complaining on the drive up and complaining even more about everyone’s behavior on the drive back.  I’m glad my poor pup won’t be alone in the house for 12+ hours and that my kid won’t be cranky and miserable, longing for his bed.  I’m happy to be focusing my attention on the people who make me a priority in life and who are a priority in mine.  Mostly, I’m happy to be in a place where I don’t feel as though I have an obligation to please everybody.  I’ll never be able to make everyone happy, so why not spend time on people I KNOW I can make happy rather than people who are barely in my life at all?

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About Jamie C. Baker

“Long time no see. I only pray the caliber of your questions has improved.” - Kevin Smith

Posted on December 5, 2013, in Life, Party! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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