Does it seem to you that the commercial aspect of Christmas gets worse every year? While shopping for school supplies in August, I noticed the first holiday items going up in local stores. At Halloween, orange pumpkins and scarecrows mixed with red velvety bows and fake poinsettias on the shelves. And what ever happened to Thanksgiving? I think shop owners skipped it this year!
For the past 6 weeks, 9 out of 10 commercials have been for holiday gift giving. Spend, spend, spend. Even our kids are affected, when announcers tout the wonders of average toys, never forgetting to mention that it's a must-have, in one way or another. And now that the big day is barely over, I'm being inundated with sale flyers in the mail, countless emails advertising 50% off sales, and flashing signs on the roadway luring buyers in for post-holiday bargains.
This year, we had a simple Christmas. We usually do! A small but adequate pile of gifts for each child to tear into, including gifts my parents left for them before a holiday trip to see my brother. My hubby ran to McD's for dollar menu breakfast sandwiches and hash browns. Lunch was at Grandma and Grandpa's, spiral honey-ginger glazed ham and fixin's. The kids got 2 or 3 small gifts apiece there, which I could tell my mil got at the discount store down the road. And you know what? They loved every single gift.
The kids rode their bikes outside (not new ones, bikes they already had) and played catch with their uncle, who is in town for the holidays. After pie for dessert, we did something unusual and headed off in different directions. Hubby and his brother went off for a round of golf. My mil wanted to play a board game with the kids. And me, being pregnant and by then a bit worn out, headed home for some happy quiet. I dozed in between the 24-hour marathon of "A Christmas Story" on TBS, catching bits of several different showings. We got back together for our traditional Christmas dinner of Chinese take-out!
No, we don't have a ton of money to spend. I had to chuckle at some of the toys the kids had on their wish lists, like that corny squawking parrot that goes for $50! But they didn't even miss those high-end items in the end. My hubby and I got 2 gifts for each other. It was a great day. And we won't be heading off for those continuing sales!
I think it's easy to get caught up in other people's expectations of us, in matching gift for gift in monetary value, in having guilt if our kids want a toy we can't afford. But it's also so easy to forget, in all the hubbub, that this season was started by the birth of a little baby who came to save the world, and that this time of year should be set aside for peace and family, where gifts from the heart should count the most.