back to christmas basics
By the time we get to our foursome family Christmas, it’s Christmas #2 or #3 for the girls. They get so many presents that giving them yet more stuff feels like futility. Futility overlaid with the slight slime of one-upmanship.
I don’t want our gifts in competition with Miss G’s new digital camera from one of her other Christmases, or Miss L’s new Wii from one of hers. It’s fine if grandparents or other parents want to spend that much money. But I don’t.
It drags us to the edge of a black hole — every year spending more and more, trying to find something nicer/more expensive/more memorable than last year, something better and more loved than a present received elsewhere. I don’t want Christmas to be about that.
So this year, when Miss L’s list started off with a $500 cell phone and an iPod touch, and Miss G included an electric scooter on hers, I decided — this has to stop. Lists like that feel… well, ugly. Entitled. These are words I want to keep out of Christmas. More upsetting is when Miss L started to read me her Christmas list, then stopped, flipped to page two and said, “Oh wait, I have less expensive stuff that you guys can get me. I’ll read you those first.” Yowch.
Then I thought, I refuse to feel guilty over this. There is no earthly reason I should spend more on a single present than all my other Christmas shopping combined.
For the record, we are not stingy at Christmas. Even last year, drowning in legal fees with neither of us working, the kids didn’t feel any lack — except the lack of celebrating it together. Having that taken away from us was devastating. So this year and all years to come, the togetherness will be the most sacred part of our holidays.
Miss L’s assumption that we wouldn’t spend that kind of money on Christmas presents is absolutely correct. And you know what? I’m taking it even farther. I’m gonna be proud of it. I’m bringing the spirit back to our celebration.
Let the kids’ other Christmases be about piles of stuff, stuff and more stuff. Our Christmas is gonna be about handmade presents, stringing cranberries and popcorn, making cookies and gingerbread houses.
The stuff? Anyone can buy that anywhere. The traditions, the memories, being a family — we build that all on our own. Together.
Oh hey there, struggling stepparent!
Listen, I put together a new website just for high-conflict blended families: Blended Family Frappé. Come on over and join the hundreds of other stepparents who are reclaiming their sanity one Sunday newsletter at a time.