It just seems crazy to me! What seems even more crazy, is that you-know-what is right around the corner. I don't know about you, but November always speeds on by and December, with all its special and busy times, is right on November's heels!
The thought of Christmas...I'm sorry, I know, I said it out loud!...brings up lots of warm fuzzies for me on the one hand: decorations, the warm glow of lights from the Christmas tree, special baking, perusing cookbooks for special meals, trying to find thoughtful, special gifts for the people I love.
On the other hand.....Christmas evokes some unsettling feelings, too: the hours and hours of planning for the gifts and special meals, the pressure I put on myself to try and make everyone feel special and loved in my family, and the thought of finding homes for all the thoughtful gifts the kids will receive from relatives. While I try to do some purging of 'stuff' in the fall, I feel like I can't really purge much more of the little kids's toys. (Well, I probably could a little more! You know, ever since watching the Toy Story Movies it's harder to get rid of toys! In the words of Rex, "Now I have guilt!")
Our challenge, as for most families, is space. With 8 children spread over 19 years we have a lot of toys that appeal to different age levels and a limited amount of storage space!
Then, there's my own conflict of wanting to surprise my kids with gifts they will be excited and surprised about. This is especially true of my older boys...who are much more difficult to excite and surprise than the little kids! For me, the little kids' excitement brings up a whole other level of conflict for me: it can be hard to stop buying because just about everything I see is something the littles would be excited over!
Yet, I know first hand what too much stuff can create. Some kids are more prone than others to the "Galloping, Greedy Gimmes"....(that's a Berenstain Bear reference in case you're wondering!;) After Luke's birthday this year and lots of presents plus trips to the store to use some gift cards, he struggled with the green eyed monster for a while. I don't do much toy buying aside from birthdays or Christmas, but even the occasional trip to Walmart, (or any other store with a toy aisle that was hard to avoid), with me had to be curtailed for a while.
My grandfather, who just turned 92, will often talk of the much simpler birthdays and Christmases of his childhood. Without much money, one gift per holiday was the norm. I have a feeling that they probably cherished that gift a whole lot more than my kids who get multiple gifts at every gift-giving occasion. I think there's a very fine line between my kids enjoying the gifts they get and just getting an emotional high opening present after present after present.
I'm not saying I want to revert back to the Little House on the Prairie Christmas of a peppermint stick in the stocking and a homemade scarf under the tree. (Although that simplicity does appeal to me in a lot of ways!) I just want to make sure that there is balance between enjoying a few special surprises and leaving room for the more important part of Christmas.......cheesecakes! Just kidding;)
Faith and family
So...where am I going with this? I have no idea really. It's just a thought that's swimming around my head. It seems that the thought is making a lot of noise, though, so I'm trying to pay attention to it. I've been doing some internet digging into "non-toy" gift ideas and other mommy blogger thoughts on making Christmas more special and meaningful and less stressful.
As my kids get older, I don't think they remember most of the gifts they have received over the years. They do remember our family's holiday traditions...like picking out a tree, baking lots and lots of cookies, and special food and time together with extended family.
I just have to remember that when I'm walking through the store and spy that "just one more little thing"....and keep right on walking!
How about you? I would love to hear the ways your family makes the holidays special in a non-consumer way! Please share!:)