Liking Christmas Ain’t Easy

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I’m trying to like Christmas and sort of succeeding.

Not because I’m scroogy or morally superior but because I’m struggling to find anything redeeming about the Holiday craziness.

Malls are insane with people trying to buy the right thing, showing they care the right amount. Money flying around like we all somehow won the lottery or that credit card companies don’t bill for December.Chidley Sean01

The grocery store feels like a barely contained mob ready to stampede if stock on cranberries or hams get dangerously low.

Even my mailbox can’t keep up with the ridiculous amount of flyers telling me all the amazing deals and how I could spend even more money while saving so much, (except trees, definitely not saving any trees).

I find myself drawn in, struggling to find the perfect present for my kids. One that captures our love and the joy of Christmas but that comes with a cheap price tag cause we’re still broke. I wander the aisles wondering if I’m causing permanent damage if I buy a singing purse for my daughter and Batman for my son. Or if our budget and the recognition that I’m being pretentious will just let me buy the damn things cause they’re on sale and the kids will like them.Chidley Sean05

So I can’t be smug and self righteous. I thought about it. I thought about only buying local or making all my gifts out of burlap and driftwood. About donating to charities instead of buying family presents and shopping at craft fairs.

But the truth is I can’t afford to only shop local (although I try with my groceries) and anything I make will be crap. No one can successfully craft at 10 pm with two small children and still make something that doesn’t look like burlap glued to a piece of driftwood. I’m just not ready for the charity idea and not every one wants a floral tea pot cosy, although they do make fun hats.Chidley Sean07

and now what… You can’t just whine they say…

I agree. So here’s what I am doing to try to make my holiday about something more and yet not something I can’t achieve.

If it comes with a should or a feeling of obligation I am saying screw it and not doing it. I’m not baking a mountain of cookies or making wreaths out of collected branches and I’m not finding some delightful craft my kids can do that will be cherished forever. If I have time I may make a few treats and I may draw some Christmasy pictures but not because I have to and only if I want to.

If it costs too much I’m not buying it. I have set a very limited budget for gifts and I’m not going over it. I will find ways to stick within that and I will not feel guilty if it means that my kids only get one gift this year from mom and dad. They have grandparents, they will survive.

I am not sending out Christmas cards. Maybe one day it will happen but at this point you all wouldn’t be getting them until the summer anyway.

I am not attempting to make the perfect Christmas with things.
 “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
Why do we still think that if we buy the right thing or do Christmas right we will create the perfect memories? What if looking back on our life we realize too late what made Christmas and the holidays magic? I will be finding ways to create memories not piles of stuff. I will wake my kids up so they can play in the snow, I will share stories about little people making toys and I will sing songs about reindeers loudly and off key.Chidley Sean24

I am going to find joy in the time I have. I work all week so to have a few extra days off is a gift. I will spend it with my kids and husband, family and friends. laughing, drinking and eating. I will not waste it on cleaning or shopping or being away from the people I love.

I am going to have a clean house for one hour. I will however take immense pleasure in cleaning enough to have people over and loving the hour before it becomes a disaster again. I will gracefully allow it to return to it’s natural state and not worry if someone has to step over toys to come into my house.

I am going to make a fantastic dinner and feed the people I love. My husband and I started our own Christmas Eve tradition of making a meal inspired by another culture. It is a chance for me to treat my family to some delicious food, try some new cooking and just get together and stuff our faces. This year we’re going for a Greek theme and I am actually looking forward to the chance to share a post about that one! I am doing this instead of buying presents for the family and I can’t think of a gift I’d rather give.

I am going to let everyone else do Christmas however they need to. I will not put expectations on anyone else and I will not stress if our Christmases look different. If someone else can make burlap and driftwood into something beautiful I will ooh and aaah and if they send me a card I will be terribly impressed with their organization.Chidley Sean27

I hope you all find a way to make the holidays special and that you don’t need years of counselling to deal with the stress.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

As you can see we did decide to get Santa photos and I had to share. Apparently my daughter is not a fan yet:)

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I Just Wanted to Say Thanks

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The Canadian version of Thanksgiving doesn’t quite have the same spectacle that it does to our Southern neighbours. Yes, we have our turkeys and pies, plus a few good football games. But there are no pilgrims, large rocks or bowls and the best history I can find is that explorers had a heck of a time not dying while wandering around Canada so they ate a lot and were thankful. (I could be very wrong so please don’t quote me).

We do have our own traditions though and one is that during supper someone always asks those at the table to say what they are thankful for. Unfortunately, this is usually after stuffing myself into oblivion and even though I have lots to say  it never quite makes it out. I give the usual response of family or friends and if its been an especially good year maybe a new job or a something like that. It would seem too long winded and take too much work to say what’s really rattling around in my head.

But I really do want to share what I’m thankful for and since I’m lacking in a spectacular Thanksgiving recipe this seems like the perfect chance.

What I am so very grateful for is the second chances and sometimes third or fourth ones that the people around me freely give.

I’ll give my most recent example. This last week I was sick, Not bed ridden, the plague has arisen sick, but definitely sniffly and miserable. It seemed to linger on and on and with two small children I just couldn’t get the sleep I needed to kick it. Finally my body gave up and I took a day off just to catch up. I slept most of the day and still passed out at 9. I woke up in the morning feeling kinda icky but more alert than I have in a week.

With this alertness came a kind of saddening reality. That whole past week I had been absolutely short tempered with my lovely son. He has entered the “why” phase of childhood and my cold addled self just couldn’t answer his increasingly frustrating whys, (no I’m not going to pretend they’re not exhausting). So instead I was a little yelly and a little impatient and really the poor kid got the short end of the stick.

So today after picking him up from daycare and on the drive home I apologized. I explained that mommy realized she’d been angry this week and that I was terribly sorry for not listening better and for being upset a lot. He dropped his little head and agreed that I had been cranky and that he was sad about it. My heart broke and I thanked him for being so wonderful and told him that mommy would try to remember not to  be a jerk.

And that was it, we moved on and he was back to his exuberant little self, full of  new and wondering “whys”, except this time I harnessed all my energy and answered every last one, even if it was with “hmmmm, maybe dadddy knows”.

So that’s what I’m truly thankful for, the opportunities to fix mistakes, apologize and carry on. The space to be human and hope that even when I hurt those around me I can repair the damage done. Knowing that I can never take advantage of these chances because then maybe then they wouldn’t be given so freely.

Because the gods know I’m far from perfect and this will not be my last apology but most likely one of many that I will have to make.

So if you happen to be at the table with me when I say “I’m thankful for friends and family”, then see me shove more pie in my mouth, know that there is a lot more behind those words and that I am grateful for the chances you all give me throughout the year.

Happy Thanksgiving all and may your long weekend be filled with pie and love!

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