Saturday, December 16, 2006

You're in Charge!

I'm sick and tired of humbugs!!

"I'll be glad when it's over!"
"Christmas is nothing but commercialism!"
"Christmas is too much work."
"I hate navigating through Christmas crowds!"

I have heard those words over, and over, and over, more than ever, this year. 25 years ago, our family was caught up in Christmas insanity too. Back then, we were invited to WAY too many Christmas parties, attended by people we didn't even like. We felt obligated to buy gifts for people we barely knew. For several years, a co-worker and I baked Christmas goodies for all the customers who gave us special Christmas tips.
By the time Christmas rolled around, we were too exhausted to enjoy the love of our family.

About 23 years ago, I found the refrigerator magnet pictured above. When I brought it home, L put it, at eye level, on our refrigerator and said: "REMEMBER THAT! EVERY time we open the fridge, we'll be reminded to do only what brings us JOY during the holiday season!"

Since that time, we have gradually simplified our activities to what truly brings us joy.

We have always stuck to a budget at Christmas. Post holiday debt stress should be avoided like the plague it is! We put $30/week away, in an envelope, for our Christmas purchases. We have discovered that, if we don't know someone well enough to know what they like; we don't need to be buying them a gift. Several years ago, our in-laws suggested that we quit buying Christmas and birthday gifts for each other. We still buy, or make, each other little things that we know the other likes, or needs, throughout the year. But now, we don't feel pressured to find the perfect gift at one time of the year.

We also got choosier about which Christmas parties we attended. The first to go was L's work Christmas party. His former workplace had a huge turnover in employees. Why waste valuable holiday time with people that we can't put a name to? Last year, my fellow employees and I finally convinced our Boss to forget about our employee Christmas party. This relieved her of a LOT of stress. Now, we only attend small gatherings of CLOSE friends, whose friendship we appreciate.

L has always refused to decorate the outside of our home for Christmas. "I don't do ANYTHING for show!". Are you putting up outdoor decorations to share the joy and beauty of Christmas with your neighbors? Or are you trying to one-up your neighbors and win the local lighting contest? Do you enjoy outdoor decorating? Can your budget afford it? I would like our home to look inviting, in a simple way. Next year, I'm putting some icicle lights around our porch, and a wreath on the door.

Inside our home, EVERY room is decorated with the traditional ornaments we have accumulated over the years. Every decoration has a memory associated with it. The decorations that our kids have made over the years, are the most precious to us. I pity the people I know, who refuse to display the "tacky" decorations their kids have put their hearts into making! To those people, Christmas memories are disposable. They buy new decorations every year, so their homes will be decorated in the latest style. "I'm doing the house in blue(gold, red, green, silver, bells, birdhouses, bows......) this year." I find these people's homes extremely cold and unwelcoming.

Simplifying our Christmas celebrations has given us a bit of extra cash. We donate, what we can, so those less fortunate than ourselves can feel the magic of Christmas. We don't want recognition; we want to spread a little happiness. We can't deduct our donations from our taxes; we don't earn enough to itemize. It's a shame that the only reason many people donate to charities is to get a tax deduction.

REMEMBER, the holidays are only as busy, and commercialized, as YOU make them! Don't waste your precious time, or money, on activities that don't bring joy to your loved ones. YOU'RE IN CHARGE! Only YOU can make the holidays a meaningful celebration!

It is MANDATORY, in our family, that Christmas gifts come from the heart!

To me, Christmas is all about giving, not getting! What are we ultimately giving? Happiness, contentment, peace, LOVE!

34 Comments:

At 12/17/2006 2:44 PM, Blogger Squirl said...

My favorite part of Christmas is being able to give, too. I don't get receipts when I give to charity, because then it's not charity.

I find myself busy enough without adding holiday stress. There are some family get-togethers that I wouldn't miss for the world. My work party is during work hours. I understand that this wouldn't work for you in your job. Of course, we'll still have our cell phones and pagers. :)

I remember pictures of hand-made Christmas decorations that you showed us last year. I thought it was wonderful that you'd kept them and still display them. You're a good mom.

And, before I get any more long-winded, Christmas is only as commercial for you as you let it be. The season is what's in our hearts. And your heart is big enough for the whole season. Love and hugs to you. :)

 
At 12/17/2006 6:17 PM, Blogger SME said...

Couldn't agree more. I may have delayed my own Christmas decorating/celebrating time by being at the theatre - but it was totally worth it, seeing the kids get their first "grownup" theatre experience, watching the audience singing along with carols and laughing, meeting new people. Collecting more Christmas memories.

 
At 12/17/2006 6:22 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Awww, thanks Squirl! Love and hugs right back atcha!!

That's exactly what I've been trying to tell all the humbugs this season. NOBODY has stolen Christmas. Christmas is right where it's ALWAYS been; in our hearts!

 
At 12/17/2006 6:25 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

SME, the truly miraculous part is that somehow Dad and I managed to raise you and Z to appreciate all the memories and meanings of Christmas as much as we do!

 
At 12/17/2006 7:31 PM, Blogger Gardenia said...

Right on! I swear you should publish some of your posts, this being one of them. One of my best presents this year so far was watching the faces of the youngest grandson and his little school buddy at the Nutcracker ballet this afternoon. Priceless! I felt bad to see my 12 year old granddaughter stressing out about presents for some of her classmates. Wish I had been here to help her make some jewelry - or paint some pics for gifts - maybe next year.

 
At 12/18/2006 12:20 AM, Anonymous Monica-Philadelphia said...

Amen, sister!

We have simplified quite a bit - due to financial sacrifices that have been made. I still get stressed though not nearly as badly.

I really need to put money away during the year.

I love the decorations and lights, they put me in the Christmas spirit. I love the baking and carols. I love the visiting of close friends. I love seeing the girls so excited.

 
At 12/18/2006 6:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes I agree with everything said there. We went to Wal mart on Saturday for a few things and boy was I glad to get out of there but I know people are just picking up last minute gifts for other relatives so I let it slide off my back and just went with the flow. About those x-mas parties the only one we get invited to is the kids one where J works every year and we dont even take them to it. We dont like the parents so we dont bother with the kids either.

 
At 12/18/2006 7:07 AM, Blogger Vancouver Voyeur said...

I couldn't agree more! We get gifts for family only, and then only the ones we'll be spending the holiday with, except parents, every year without fail. Neither myself, nor any of my siblings has much money to buy gifts for everyone each year, we have a very large family and it could bankrupt a Rockefeller trying to buy for everyone. As for decorations, we love to decorate and there's no such thing as a tacky decoration if it makes you happy. We recently did some commando decorating of our neighbor's yard because his kids complained about his tasteful white lit bushes and spotlit house with wreathes on the windows. They told him they wanted a yard like ours, with colored lights in the trees, a Christmas tree in the front yard and just a happy, messy looking yard full of lights. So each night we put up more colored lights and more decorations in his yard. His kids went nuts! They loved it! Each night they would keep checking out front to see what new decoration would appear, but they never caught us. When we finally fessed up, he told us about his kid's joy in it all, plus they couldn't figure out how we kept getting the decorations up without getting caught. He also told his sick grandmother about the prank and said he hadn't heard her laugh so much in years. That's what Christmas is about to us. Having a good time and bringing joy to others. This weekend we decorated a friend's yard. She's newly separated, neither her family growing up, nor her husband would allow Christmas decorations. She recently asked us how to decorate and we couldn't believe she didn't know the first thing about it. She called last night almost in tears saying how much her daughter would love the decorations when she got home and thank you for being so thoughtful. Anyone else out there need a little yard art? ;-)

 
At 12/18/2006 2:14 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

D, seeing the magic of Christmas reflected in a child's face is the BEST part of Christmas for me!! I'm soooo happy that you are there with your family!

Monica, we've had several bare bones Christmases. You know what? Those years made some of our happiest Christmas memories!

Tweets, that's how I feel. Why waste precious holiday time with people you don't like?

VV, your story is just the kind of thing that MAKES Christmas for me. Making other's happy, while having fun as a family, is what it's all about! You've made precious Christmas memories for a lot of people this year, including yourselves.

 
At 12/18/2006 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes true. I will have that pix and card out in the mail tomorrow. I am going to go get the pix made up today. That is where we are heading. i was going to make 4x6's but they wont fit in my cards so i am doing 2x3's. talk later N.

 
At 12/18/2006 7:19 PM, Blogger Candace said...

Awesome post! :)

I love this season! ^_^ I love the music, the cookies, the tree and lights, planning surprises for my kids - all that good stuff. :)

 
At 12/18/2006 11:01 PM, Blogger Wandering Coyote said...

...And then there are people like me - and I know I'm not alone - who are not scrooges and not necessarily humbug-ers, but for whom the holidays are a depressing, lonely, stressful time for reasons other than what you mention here. In the later years of my marriage, we simplified lots and had a solstice celebration instead of a Christmas celebration, and this was great. But still, I find myself sad around this time of year. I cannot pinpoint why, I just do. I cannot wait for the season to be over just so life can feel normal again.

I agree with what you say here, though; it is what you make it and there is lots of choice and possibility around to have the kind of holiday season you want to.

 
At 12/19/2006 1:06 AM, Anonymous Monica-Philadelphia said...

VV - those are great stories, thanks! They really made me laugh. God bless ya - you're a good neighbor!

Wandering Coyote - My husband gets very stressed starting Halloween and he doesn't calm down until New Years. It's not a happy kind of stressed, either. (Although in recent years it hasn't been as bad, maybe because making it magical for the kids helps him?) There are several in my large family who experience the holidays as you describe. Myself - I am always glad to get the house back to normal and move on with my regular routine when it's all over.

 
At 12/19/2006 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all should go see what i did to my house.I have posted it this afternoon. My husband asked if he is going to dread what I do to the outside next year. LOL!!! I have it figured its our first year in our own home that I want to decorate so bad. I will have more lights and stuff up next year but this year I just wanted the tinsil and garland and stuff. There are these lighted deer I want for our front yard and Trees that are lighted also. Then we are going to do do the front of the house in lights if we have enough.

 
At 12/19/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger SME said...

The tree is fully decorated! But I forgot to put the garland on. Maybe I should get some tinsel instead?

 
At 12/19/2006 8:56 PM, Blogger Nancy Drew said...

Gardenia's right, tshsmom, you really should publish your stuff. It could do a lot of people a lot of good. This really is an important post.

Love the message and you're so damn right.

WC you're right too. It's a cliche to say that 'the holidays' are 'hard on some people' but they are. Why though? I thought and thought about this and realized that at least in my case it was me causing the issue (my expectations). Am still not where I want to be in terms of ratcheting things down to where I think they should be but am better than where I was. Guess there's no one answer, but this post is a very very good start.

SME, if you have a cat don't use tinsel....

 
At 12/19/2006 8:57 PM, Blogger Nancy Drew said...

I'm sorry this is late but HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! XXXXXXXXOOOOOOO

 
At 12/20/2006 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone had trouble getting into there blogs lately???? I have to come into tshs here and then log in and then it takes me to mine. I have this thing where it asks if its a new blogger or old blogger. But when i just go from here it doesnt ask just signs me in. Plus I dont have half the e-mails for permission to put in there anyway if i wanted to change it. Well anyway let me know if any of you are having problems too. Thanks N.

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/20/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont send any more shit or else

 
At 12/21/2006 1:39 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Vest, the ONLY people I have emailed, in the last 3 weeks, are Nancy Drew, Great White Bear, and our daughter.
Saby hijacked ND's and my email a couple of months ago. If you're getting email with my name on it, it's from Saby. You're the LAST PERSON I'd EVER email!

 
At 12/21/2006 1:47 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Thanks Candace! As you can tell, I'm a Christmas freak too. ;)

WC, I concur with ND, below. I'd also add that you haven't had an opportunity to celebrate the season YOUR WAY yet. Someday, you'll have your own comforting holiday traditions.

Thanks ND! *blushing*
I tend to blurt out my feelings. Sometimes that's not a good thing. ;)
Thanks for the birthday greetings. Move over; I'm starting to catch up to you!

 
At 12/21/2006 8:54 PM, Blogger Vest said...

Confusing. I never received any to reply to, simply received message from sme. also received abuse from star bender which I replied to.
Plus you are blocked so how can you send?.

Seems I am being blamed again for someone Else's indiscretion, Nothing new about that, Shades of Salem. M X.

 
At 12/21/2006 8:56 PM, Blogger Vest said...

would you please let go of my leg I am not coming bacck

 
At 12/22/2006 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hes a funny old man isnt he???? LOL..... Well anyway I agree with Vancouver here. You could come help with my decorations outside but I think we live to far apart. Plus I am planning a small shopping spree after x-mas on there sales for decorations anyway. There are a few outside stuff I have wanted but couldnt have until now since we bought our own home. Its suppose to snow tonight and we are suppose to go to Rice Lake WI tomorrow to see my dad and they are suppose to get 3-5 inches. I dont know if I want to travel in that stuff or not. I have been looking forward to the trip for weeks now but YIKES... I know for a few of you its shocking to know Kens not my dad. Well he is in all the right senses but hes not if you know what I mean. Well anyway happy holidays.

 

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