Day: December 22, 2012

After the Shopping

One thing that getting older has taught me is that I often become something I never expected to be. I began parenthood as a stay at home mother who devoted 90% of her creative energy to things which benefited the kids. I thought that was the best kind of mother to be. These days I’m a working mother who often lets her kids fend for themselves and I can see significant advantages to this way of doing things. I used to be a person who started making Christmas purchases in October and had them completed by Thanksgiving. It was all carefully planned and balanced. This year we are making most of our Christmas purchases within 4 days of that holiday. I always thought that sort of last minute scramble represented poor planning and resulted in over spending because of last minute stress. Yes going out shopping today put us into crowded stores, but I don’t think the expense was more. It may even have been less because during the planning years we kept picking up “one more thing.” Nor do I think that the conscious focus of picking gifts was lessened. Choosing a gift is the same emotional action whether it occurs two months or two days before the holiday. I didn’t understand that before, I was too busy carefully planning. Also by shortening the time between gift selection and gift presentation, the kids retain an emotional connection to the gift they are giving. This will not be a year when a giver has forgotten what is inside the wrapping paper.

This is not to say that carefully planning is wrong either. It would not surprise me to discover that my future holds carefully-planned-in-advance Christmases. This is the advantage to discovering that there is no one true way to approach Christmas, I’m free to choose whichever form of celebration best fits that particular holiday season.

The forays into the wilds of Christmas bustle were successful. It turns out that the necessary shopping was split across five people instead of just falling to me. Howard went out, Kiki went out, and I took both boys out. The only family member who did not go to a store today was Gleek. She happily conspired with me from the items I already had here at home.

It was interesting to go shopping with my two boys. They have a very direct approach to gift selection. It is kind of refreshing. They flounder, not at all sure what they should get until suddenly they know that the thing right in front of them is exactly right. Even if it is a thing I’m not certain about, even if I express that reservation, they are not dissuaded. They stick with their choices. I like seeing them decisive. And truth be told, I didn’t argue much. I’m trying to let go, let the kids do their own struggling, considering, and selecting. Kiki had a harder time. She reached a blitzed, unable to decide state. It was a full-bore option overload from which Howard had to rescue her. he did and they came home triumphant, if tired.

Yesterday, during the long shopping outing with Howard, I looked over at him and felt happy. We were out in the holiday crowds–something we try to avoid–and we were shopping last minute–also to be avoided–yet I felt happy. I was so happy to be part of a Christmas preparation team instead of trying to save everyone else from stress by doing most of it myself. At 2 am this morning I could not believe that the holiday would be good. Now I can. I’ll take that.

Christmas Looms

At 2 am this morning I was convinced that I’d ruined Christmas, as if Christmas was my job to get right for my entire family instead of a mutual creation. But 2 am is not a rational hour and the illogical thoughts capered through my brain refusing to calm down or cooperate. I knew that if I could only sleep, things would look better in the morning. I would then be able to sort the tasks which needed to be done and actually do them. Step one was to fall asleep and that was proving tricky.

I did it to myself really. I spent from 10 am to 2 pm out with Howard, visiting the doctor, a restaurant and three different stores. We returned home with our selections for Christmas morning surprises, carefully chosen. As I tweeted during lunch: The fate of Christmas morning rested upon those purchasing decisions. It doesn’t of course. Christmas isn’t in the gifts, packages, boxes, or tags. The Grinch reminds me of this every year and I always manage to forget it at some point during the next year. We arrived home tired. I napped a bit, but then my youngest needed help cleaning his room because he was inclined to just clear the middle by shoving things to the edges. We cleaned, I caught a brief nap, friends stopped by, I realized I had not yet run to the grocery store despite the fact that it had been high on the priority list for two days. The grocery run brought me home just in time to cook a fish stick dinner for the kids and then dash out into the night for a social evening with friends. Hours of talking (and laughing) later I drove home–too tired to even make conversation on the drive. It was a day with no time for stopping or relaxing, no time for my brain to sort the day or settle it. So I found myself in the darkest hour of night with capering thoughts that I knew were irrational, but could not stop.

I’m not sure when sleep managed to arrive, one of my tactics was to refuse to check the clock. Eventually I woke up this morning able to finally do things to feel that Christmas will be fine. Most of what I need to do is take kids shopping. Four kids. Four shopping trips. All on the Saturday before Christmas. I’m going to be tired by the end of today. Hopefully I’ll be able to cultivate a holiday shopping zen rather than having the entire experience be miserable. Or perhaps I should let it be miserable in the hope that next year the kids will think about Christmas options earlier in the month.

For now, I need to change out of pajamas and let the shopping begin.That, and hope that having had my Christmas is ruined panic last night, I can maybe skip that part of Christmas eve.