By BETSY HART
Scripps Howard News Service
December 07, 2006
Now as a mom myself, of course, the every-other-year deal sounds like a great plan to me.
I'm not objecting to the commercialism of Christmas, mind you. It's really a sort of made-up, secular holiday anyway - I mean, what in the world does a blow-up Santa in the front yard have to do with Jesus? The commercialism is a sort of celebration, albeit on steroids, of the general prosperity we enjoy in this country so in and of itself it doesn't bother me.
What does bother me is all the work that Christmas has become. I mean, it's just not fun sometimes.
So just as my four kids, the oldest of whom is 12, only get a "big" birthday party every other year, I've decided Christmas is going to be "big" only alternate years. And, no surprise, it just happens that this is a low-key year. My mom lives on.
Here's what this means - I'm making three lists.
What I really love about Christmas: the music, the festivity of it, the smells, spending time with my kids watching classic Christmas movies, the Christmas Eve service, making sure Santa picks a few gifts they will truly love and use.
What I really don't like: putting up exterior lights, feeling like I have to do every Christmas activity offered to kids within a 60 mile radius of my home.
What I'm conflicted about: I like sending out Christmas cards, and I enjoy giving little thank you gifts to all the folks volunteering in my kids lives (church, coaches, scout leaders etc.) But the pressure seems on to do it all "just right" and in time for Christmas.
So, here's what I'm doing: The Christmas music is on 24/7, a fresh tree is going up early for the smell, and the kids and I have a list of the classic movies we are working our way through. I'm minimizing this year's lights display, and am actually asking a friend for (gulp!) help in putting them up.
No Christmas cards this year. I think folks will figure out the kids and I are alive and well anyway. That will save about three days of my life right there. And all those little gifts for the volunteers? It will be taken care of in January, and this year they will be creative, not expensive.
By the way, I'm not exactly sure why the pressure is on to give huge tips to the people whom I pay for services and already tip well all year long. And the public school teachers? I really like my kids' teachers, but they are well compensated and I'm just not going to add to the 25 gift cards they'll have trouble using anyway. I think a note genuinely telling them how much my kids enjoy them will do. That will come in the New Year too.
I'd rather use those monies to put into gifts for less fortunate kids through our church and other ministries, and I've found that my children really enjoy picking out those things. (I'm just not sure if it's good that they seem to enjoy choosing gifts for strangers more than for their own siblings!)
And all those precious Christmas activities? Well we've seen the Nutcracker ballet, and had our visit with Santa. We're done.
Now two things: one, I really need gift suggestions, which do NOT involve video games, for a 12-year-old boy. Feel free to forward same. Two, I would really appreciate it if people would stop saying "so-and-so is a real Scrooge," or "my, that guy is such a Grinch." Folks, these famous Christmas characters reformed. Can we please remember that this season?
Anyway, I like this alternate year "low-key" Christmas idea. For the first time in a long time, I'm pretty relaxed about Christmas and enjoying the season, which means my kids are having a pretty good time too.
Only, I'm already dreading next year - and already wondering if I can get away with a "one-in-every-three-years" Christmas policy.
E-mail her at letterstohart(at)comcast.net
Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.shns.com