Ready or not…here it comes! I love how surprised I am every year when the holiday season arrives. I do my best to ignore it’s impending arrival. Mitts? Hat? Where are you?? Santa Claus parade??? Festival of Northern Lights?? (seriously some cool shit our city puts on every year! If you’re in the neighbourhood you should check it out!) But every year it arrives at the same time! And every year the same thought strikes me…God DAMMIT I wish I started my shopping in July like I said I was going to!!!
Christmas shopping has always stressed me out. Deep down I, like every other parent out there, want to buy my kids EVERYTHING they want. I want them to wake up Christmas morning and have their little minds explode at the site of all the gifts under the tree wrapped perfectly in shiny paper and bows. Deep down that would make me (and Santa) the Best. Mom. EVER. But only deep down. In reality: I REFUSE to do that. It’s wrong. It doesn’t help the kids understand the real meaning of the holidays. It’s wasteful. It makes them greedy. It makes them expect a shit-tonne of presents the following year. I have NEVER done that…intentionally. Alright, the truth is I do it it every frigging year. Every year I say to myself “Self! We are sticking to the budget! We are sticking to the list! We can do this!!!” (and then the other people at WalMart look at me like I am crazy and I don’t care cause I am in WalMart and where else can you let your freak flag fly but in WalMart at 430 in the morning 3 weeks before Christmas??!? ) and then I inevitably just grab ONE more book for Luke cause he loves to read then I have to get Ryleigh one more gift too so it’s fair…but OH! Ryleighs cost just a bit more so I better get another little thing for Luke…and BAM…Christmas present city. Exhibit A( for awful AWFUL Mommy!!):
Well this year is going to be different. For one I am committing to this right here, right now…I am not going to go crazy this year! And secondly my kids are in on it this year! Every year the night before the Santa Claus parade we write out letters to Santa. This year however things went a bit different. As always we sat down with the Wish Book Ryleigh and Luke both wrote out spectacular lists with everything on them they could ever want and things I am sure they wouldn’t actually ever want had they not been in the catalog. But heres when I got a little different…maybe a little mean. After about an hour and 3 sheets of paper I let them proudly show me their lists and show me the pictures of the items in the catalog and tell me all about how wonderful and fun each item would be! I told them their lists were great and then, I took a deep breath and prepared for wrath of my spoiled children, handed them a new sheet of paper and asked them to write a new list together with only 4 things on it each: Something you want, Something they need, something to wear and something to read. I asked them to also thank Santa for the wonderful gifts he had brought them in the past and then apologize for not saying thank you sooner. I asked them to tell Santa (no shit I made my 14 year old do this too with the most amazing stink eye I have ever witnessed!) that they understand that there are many other kids in the world besides them who need his attention more. That they understand that those children actually NEED presents and they would like him, Santa, to be able to focus more energy on those kids instead of them because they already have so so SO much “stuff”. Let me tell you I was NOT the most popular Mama at that moment. Well…Lucas picked up what I was putting down pretty quick and didn’t say anything, infact he gave me one of his “sorry for being a D-Bag” looks. Ryleigh on the other hand did the whole: “THAT’s SOOOoooOOO NOT FAIR!!! I WAS GOOD THIS YEAR I SHOULD GET LOT’S OF STUFF!!! I WAS ALLOWED TO ASK FOR WHATEVER I WANTED LAST YEAR!! blah blah wah wah wahhh!!!!!!” for about 10 minutes and stomped up stairs to her room full of the toys I was referring to, (At this point I cried and felt awful and asked Jay if I was being mean? did I break her??? OH EM GEE she hates me now!!!) then calmed herself down came back down stairs and asked if she could also please and thank you ask for a few gifts on her list for the pets. PHEW!!! Not that bad actually. This opened the door for a really great family discussion about need vs. want. Jason and I were able to explain to her that life isn’t about always getting what you want, that being good isn’t something you get rewarded for: it’s expected. We were able to discuss the Mennonite community and their very different set of values and compare it to our society’s take on the topic of possessions. It truly was a great talk! In the end the letter got rewritten (gifts for all the pets and Mom and Jason included!) and the following morning during the Santa Claus Parade the letter that “changed how the Gateman/Wilson/Cooper family thought of Christmas” was sent off via the Canada Post letter carrier to Santa! Here’s hoping “Santa” sticks to it this year!