I have survived my children's birthdays for the year. Gifts were purchased and wrapped. Cake was decimated. All of my little monsters are another year older. (And another year closer to the teenage years, heaven help me.) There is not much that can match a child's unmitigated glee and greed as the calendar inches closer to the date of their birth. Every commercial on television is an opportunity to add just one more item to their wants, needs, or absolutely-has-to-have-it-or-I-will-die list.
I have started to wonder this year why I spend so much time wrapping their presents. My kids don't care that there is pretty paper all over their gift. It is just a hindrance to them. Though it is bemusing to see the way that the paper flutters in the air after being tossed by the careless hands of a child. I could probably wrap their gifts in brown paper and they would not care. (Note to self: ask for paper bags at the grocery store.)
The toy companies are sadistic. Oh, I am not talking about the prices of the toys. (Though they are pretty ridiculous.) I am talking about the packaging. Obviously these people have never tried to extract a Barbie with a five-year-old with a sugar high from cake looking over their shoulder. My kids usually start with screaming, "Get it out, get it out, get it out." (Now imagine that the volume and pitch of each "get it out" rises each time it is repeated. I am usually deaf by the end of the day.)
Now I get to embark on the orgy of childhood greed that is Christmas. (I might go to hell for using orgy and Christmas in the same sentence. I hope God understands.) Not only are parents responsible for gifts for our children, we get stuck with doing Santa's job too. We have to brave the malls and (God help us all) Wal-mart on the day after Thanksgiving. It is called Black Friday because the things that some parents do for a Tickle Me Elmo has permanently blackened their soul. I am beginning to think that Thanksgiving was invented so that parents can carbo-load before the Black Friday sales. You have to have your energy up if you are going to trample someone at the store for a doll.
I might sound a little jaded about Christmas and a few other holidays. I can only blame the loss of my childhood innocence. Christmas just isn't as much fun as it was when I was a child. I realize now how much work my parents went through to make Christmas magical. The torch gets passed on with each new generation. I think this year I will try to make Thanksgiving and Christmas a little bit more magical for my husband and myself. (Now get rid of those dirty thoughts.)
This year I plan on enjoying the time with my family. I am not going to worry if they like the gifts I give them, and just be glad that they were around for me to give gifts to. I am going to watch for the twinkle in my daughters' eyes when we read "The Night Before Christmas" to them on Christmas Eve. And yes, this year I plan to enjoy the peace of a Christmas Eve church service. (Instead of wishing that I could be at home organizing the events of the next day.)
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a festive Kwanza, and a very Happy New Year. (Enjoy the magic of the season. I know I will be.)