This actually sort of dovetails in to the last blog about having fun. AND it really dove tails in to it because it's my 115th blog of the year which was my goal. BOOM! Thank you, NaNo.
Christmas used to be my very favorite holiday. Part of that is from growing up religious and going to a religious school. As you would guess Christmas is sort of a big deal. Even though it really should be Easter but babies and presents are more fun than death and tombs, but I digress. So Christmas was a really big deal. There were plays and cantatas and midnight services with candles and then my family had things that we did as well. The luminaria tour, multiple Christmas gatherings with friends and a massive Christmas day. It was a big deal holiday. And it had rules. I was a real stickler for the rules.
No decorations before Thanksgiving. Except for practice you shouldn't sing Christmas songs until December. Presents on Christmas Day. Decorations always in the same place every year. There were rules! We even had rules around how we opened gifts when I was growing up. Everyone got a present and then you could open yours. Then another round, everyone gets a present, then you open yours. There was no willy nilly tearing open of the gifts in a frenzy. And there was no up before the sun to do it either. Especially not for me. I was the youngest and by the time I was 5 my brother was married and out of the house but we still waited for him before opening gifts. At least for a few years. I think even my mother got tired of waiting for them to roll out of bed and make it to the house.
But part of what made it special was the rules. You can burn out on Christmas really quickly. Too much glitter. Too many lights. Too much stuff. The songs on constant repeat. The same TV shows and movies. If you start too soon you peak too early. Something I learned when Brent and I were first married and I worked retail. And that was before there was a lot of Christmas Creep. We didn't put up the Christmas stuff until Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you worked the late shift that day you decorated and put out the sales information for bright and early Friday morning. But even with that working at least 8 hours every day listening to the same Christmas songs over and over while selling the same Christmas presents and looking at the same Christmas decorations? By the time Christmas itself came you were pretty well over it. I cannot even imagine what it's like for people now that Christmas decorations and Christmas songs start filtering in around Halloween.
But the no decorating before Thanksgiving was over rule stuck at the house for a long time. I wouldn't even buy anything Christmasy until after Thanksgiving. Usually. There were always exceptions here and there, the Christmas only shops would do me in sometimes. But then the item was packed away with the Christmas decorations as soon as we got home not to be seen again until a leftover turkey sandwich was on the menu.
I also used to love the day after Christmas sales. I would get up early and head out. Buying up ribbons and lights and JC Penny would have a sale on boots that day and...and...and...it was all great fun. Sometimes Brent would come with me, sometimes he would stay home and I would bring him breakfast a few hours later. When Christopher was older we all headed out a few times.
Ahhh, Christopher. Is there really anything like Christmas with your kid? They make it all really perfect. Putting out reindeer feed in Colorado Springs. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa. Trips to visit Santa, working out the perfect ask beforehand. Santa brings one gift in our house. Why am I going to let him get all the glory when I'm right here? So we let him handle one thing and we took care of the rest. And even then one year he totally blew it. Brought C a video game case. Yes, the game was not in it. Thank goodness he left a note explaining how the elves had gotten behind and it would be shipped to the local Game Stop for Mom to pick up the next day...
But eventually C grew up. And Christmas became more of a chore every year. It lined up with Planning at the agency. So I was trying to master a budget and media plan for the following year to get approved at our annual Christmas meeting which would then become the Christmas party and they wanted the bar open right away and there would be a gift exchange and why are we having it at dreary hotels let's go to Spirit Mountain Casino and then why are we going to Spirit Mountain when it's just as cheap to go to Vegas! So for a few years in the middle of holiday planning I was budget planning and taking a trip to Vegas. Which was fun, don't get me wrong, we had some great parties, but I still needed to finish shopping and wrapping and decorating and...
And then it all became too much. The year my dad died I never did find my Christmas spirit. Which was understandable really. But then the year after that it hit and left quickly. And the day after sales became blood baths of people shoving and grabbing and being rude. And C was older and he didn't really care all that much about the trappings. And Brent never did care and...I was over it.
I still like Christmas. It's still a lovely holiday. But Thanksgiving has moved in to the favorite spot. (Halloween was a close second to Christmas for a long time but it's been trashed by being overdone for quite a few years, Halloween should be a pocket holiday not a month long adult celebration of booze and sexy (insert item that should NEVER be sexy here) costumes.) Thanksgiving has no expectations. We shift the menu around here and there every year. This year will be new because we are all eating differently. C and I have shared a few recipes back and forth and I think we've settled on the menu. He helps me cook on the day and we eat and laze around. It's really quiet and low key and perfect. There is no PERFECT THANKSGIVING expectation.
But here is the biggest surprise that happened when Christmas fell off it's exulted perch. I stopped caring about the rules. You want to put your tree up in November? Go on ahead. Your Christmas lights stay on all year? Okay. Open all the gifts on December 15th because you just can't wait anymore? Sure. No rules. If it makes you happy, if it brings you joy, you do you, boo, you do you.
I've cut back on decorations massively. We have a little table top tree. I have my Santas and my Snowmen and I love them. I have our stockings that I hang by the chimney with care, even though Brent and I don't exchange gifts anymore and since we've cut back on sugar I am not even sure what will go in them this year. We still watch our favorite Christmas movies. I will still hang my favorite lights outside. Just fewer of them than I used to. We've pared down to only those things that make me happy. Again, Brent and Christopher don't care. I am the sentimental one around here. But I let go of a lot of the extra stuff. There are no have tos, only want tos, and those shift year to year. Last year I got tickets to a few Christmas shows, which was fun so we are doing it again this year.
Christmas had to fall off its perfect perch to make me enjoy it again. It's not what it was, but it is what it is, and that's lovely.
Thanksgiving is the favorite because it has no expectations, but Christmas is nice too.
Though when I suggested asking for a donation to a charity in my name instead of any gifts at all C did say, "You would be one of THOSE people." Oh yeah, not one of THOSE people. So maybe I won't get rid of all of the trappings just yet.