Sunday, December 06, 2009

Watch Your Step!

If someone were to ask me, "When you hear the word 'Christmas' what do you think of?" the first thing I would probably say is "family". Because I've been taught that is the right answer. In fact, we've all been taught that same answers.  Along with the rest of the cliche answers like presents under the tree, family being together or coming together (probably for another Thanksgivingesque meal), the whole Santa myth, the longing for snow a la the song "White Christmas", celebrating the Christ Mass, Jesus's birthday, ad naseum, ad infinitum.

But you and I both know that all of that is a crock of shit. A warm and steaming pile of crap just waiting to be stepped in by some sorry Polyanna.

Here's the reality of the situation:

First of all, Christmas is NOT a religious holiday. Don't get all holierthanthou on me. You may try to teach your kids that the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus but unless you keep your kid under a rock they know the truth: it's all about the toys. Presents are nice but face it.  The toys are the real story here. And, if by some bizarre miracle you get the kids to buy the whole Jesus's birthday thing, why are you celebrating it now? Go check with the historians and astronomers and you will find that this time of year is NOT when he was born (the star in the east thing).

Now, about the whole family thing. I can't speak about your family. However, I do know that my family, my husband's family, my friends' families, and my co-workers' (when I had them) families all seem pretty average in most respects so I am basing my comments on family with all of these average people in mind.

It is almost NEVER a miracle when the whole family gets together. It is a miracle when the whole family gets together and there aren't tears or screaming, or disagreements, or minor altercations or hurt feelings.  Thankfully, because we are pretty average our get togethers have never involved a trip to the ER or a visit by law enforcement but I've heard that's a possible side effect for many families as well.

When I'm answering the loaded Christmas question honestly I say things like:

"When I think of Christmas I think of...


Money or the lack thereof

Great expectations (I still have a very little kid who believes in Santa. I don't want to be the one to break that bubble)


Unreasonable expectations



Too much to do

Spending time and money I don't have particularly on people who don't care. I'm tired of kissing ass just because there is some genetic connection.


A culture of gimme gimme

Self indulgence

Over indulgence


When I had a job it was nice to have some paid time off.  Now that I don't have a job there is no such thing as a day off. A day where I am not making something to sell, or working on improving my shop, or my marketing reach, or at the very least thinking about the next design, the next set of colors, the next idea is one more day without a paycheck. And I can't afford that. My family can't afford that.

So, I try to get things I know my kids really, truly want AND will use and enjoy for more than just a day without hurting my meager bank account too badly.  I knit a few things for family members and friends who I am pretty sure will appreciate them AND wear or use them as intended.  I attend at least one, often two family get togethers and if need be, bite my tongue.

Otherwise, my biggest goal of the holiday season is to just get out of the way of all the crazy people who haven't figured out what a crock this all is or are too stupid to take a step back and see how their frenzied actions are only making a bad situation worse for everyone.

Don't get me wrong.  I love surprising my family with well thought out presents. I love the sense of peace and calm that comes with the first real snowfall. I love the sparkling, twinkling lights. There are some Christmas songs that are my favorite songs ANY time of year. There are some relatives I only get to see at the holidays that I wish I could spend more time with or see more often.  There are special foods that I wish I could have more often as well. All of these things are the parts of Christmas I want to keep.

Those icky, nasty, other things I mentioned first that leave such a bad aftertaste in not just your mouth but in your psyche and your soul? They're in that big stinking pile over there and I am NOT going to step in it this year!