Thursday, December 1, 2011

Of Monsters and Other Things.

I don't remember exactly when it happened. I suspect it was a gradual growth process. I don't know if she even knows she did it but...

My Mother created a Christmas Monster!
(no disrespect intended Mom)

Perhaps it is because she loves us all so much that she did it. Perhaps it is she wants to be loved. I hope it isn't because she thinks that gifts are how we show love. More gifts=more love. No, that can't be it. Nevertheless, she created it and passed the monster on to me.

But this year, I am giving it back.

I don't know when it happened for me either. (Keep in mind my monster is not anywhere as big as my Mom's monster, nor as expensive) In the past several years there have been many additions to my gift list. A son-in-law, three granddaughters and now two other men in the family. Add in my 4 girls, my husband and family members and that is a whole lot of gifts! As luck would have it, all four daughters birthdays are in November to January too.

Back to my story, I don't know when I went from a gift for each person to more gifts and more expensive gifts and $$$. You understand. Each year we spent more and more and more. I would usually ask them all for a list of what they wanted and tried my best to get a good part of the gifts. Silly when you think of it. Here is my list, please buy these things. Not really my idea of giving a gift to someone you love. (Note also, my girls are not the "get this or else" type of girls. In fact, they would be satisfied with whatever I got them. Well, most of them would. ;) )  It was all me. All my doing. My husband is absolved as he has no idea what we get  and for whom.  So like I said, this year I am giving the monster back.

Without going into the details much so as not to give anything away, this year I chose the gifts that I wanted them to have. Carefully chose. I am hoping it will mean more to them than checking things of their list.  I am sure it will. I am taking all expectations out of the equation. I am giving them their chosen gift because I love them and I think they will love the gift. Pure heart, best intentions.

And from this holiday on I will have released myself from unrealistic expectations. The very expectations that only I put on myself.

(PS My mother buys gifts for around 30 people and spends thousands of dollars! On a retired persons income. I don't know how she does it?)


Sarah said...


We usually have to remind Nana not to out-do Santa with the grandchildren. Sigh.

The problem is, I find myself selecting a few carefully chosen gifts and telling myself to stop. Then I fret and I think "but this doesn't look like Christmas" because I have this image of a really incredibly spoiled Christmas year after year in my childhood.


K said...

It's so odd, isn't it, having to redefine the rituals of your family as you go? My parents did things one way. But it was Dickens and that mound of abundance the Spirit of Christmas Present (no pun here) was sitting on that did it to me. Mounds of brightly colored boxes. I wrapped every pair of underwear. I didn't spent that much - you can get quite a nice little shiny box if you wrap a single hot wheels car.

But now the kids are older, and gone and married. I still want to be able to give them all the things that will light them up - but then, they are really lit by love and understanding and little acts of service, none of which can you wrap in boxes with shiny paper, which is a vast disappointment to me.

I have come to the place where I am facing this change too. I still bought things they need - the ones who do need. But my daughter who needs less is perfectly happy being the One With Least Boxes - so I know I've done something right.

Of course, Christmas is about the birth of a savior, who in one fell swoop gave everything to everyone. And I can't do that. But offering fun and food and a place for everybody to get together in love - that is something. I liked your piece.