Friday, December 25, 2009

merry christmas!


I am truly overwhelmed by christmas. The moral weight of simplicity is something I feel in my core, yet I just don't know how to implement it and have christmas too. My kids have three sets of grandparents plus two parents who try to control themselves and sometimes fail. I could ask the grandparents to limit themselves to one gift or to a certain dollar amount, but I feel that asking this would be an affront to simplicity also... to unnecessarily complicate the act of gift giving.

We have enough toys. We had enough for seven kids before wrapping paper starting flying this morning, and now we have enough for a small village. But we are Americans after all, and we have The Means. The joy on the child's face when you get the gift right is priceless, and so we try. We try to pick the right thing so we can experience their joy too, as it spills out of them and onto all of us nearby.

As far as my values go, I feel it would have been plenty if my kids had stopped with their stockings this year. Really. But we soldiered on, gift after gift, some things really hitting the mark, my son ignoring everything else to push his Little People Tractor across the kitchen floor, my daughter fishing aquatic puzzle pieces with a magnetic fishing pole.

It was a great morning. Two sets of grandparents are here at once and I love it, love having more people in the house. I wish I had this kind of community always, people who are linked by history in each other's space. But I don't. It's somehow hard for me to just accept what my life is, accept it as fact without judgement.

Now there's a pile of unwrapped presents under the tree because where else are we going to put them? And there are two bags more... some from the 3rd set of grandparents, some from aunts and uncles and cousins. We saved them for later because there were so many in the first shift that the kids started to melt. When the question Here, Clark, you want to open another present? produces wailing, you know they've reached sensory overload.

More presents to open? It feels wrong to me, feels so excessive as to be immoral. (I realize I may be making more out of this than there is.) And the thought of trying to find places for all these presents in the house makes me hyperventilate a little in my mind.

3 comments:

Shara said...

I don't think you're making more out of this at all! I completely agree. But we'vre seriously limited gift giving and that's hard, too. Even though I really believe strongly that I've made the right decision I am surprised by the pressure I feel to BUY MORE. Nat that the pressure exists, but that I feel it so strongly. That as strong as my convictions are about simplicty, I still doubt myself. Perhaps we really should have gone overboard this year. Perhaps he would be happier with more toys. Anyway - enough of my feelings on the issue. I really just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your paragraph on "letting the joy spill over". For a moment I was inspired. I've also come to the conclusion that the dollhouse I REALLY wanted to get for him that I decided was unecessary was really for me. And I really want it anyway and regret not getting it. So I think next year, I'll skip the pretext and just buy any toys I want for me, for me. After all, I do spend A LOT of time playing.

Cali said...

Thanks for your comment, Shara. You make a good point, and I want to shout out for buying toys for yourself. Because if you enjoy playing with the toys (or games or whatever) then you'll enjoy being w/ the kid. Finding something to play that you don't find boring is very very important. My thing right now is getting a craft room set up... I think that's going to be my saving grace. Working on it. And want to say that you should watch the dollhouse right now online if you can. I bought my kids' kitchen set 2 days after xmas last year for about half the price, which was changing hourly on Amazon. No one says you have to buy these things for holidays or birthdays only.

Paige said...

Cali, I just want to say that it is YOUR family Christmas and I think it's perfectly OK and reasonable and not complicated to tell grandparents to rein it in. And to rein it in yourself. We limit ourselves to 3 gifts for each kid, something to play with, something to wear, and something to read. Also, don't forget to put all the new stuff away and dole it out little by little. Even unwrapped stuff - having a rainy meltdowny day in cold boring February? Get out a wrapped present to open as a surprise.