Friday, December 23, 2011

"Count your blessings, and forget the rest"

It's two days before Christmas, and this year more than ever, I'm not feeling it. Perhaps it's the ages of my kids - now 10 and 14. Five years ago, I would still have been frantically baking my 12th kind of cookie and making sure each gift was wrapped in different colored paper. I would have test-drove the stocking stuffers to make sure they fit in said stockings, and ensured that my video camera was charged and at the ready.

This year, I've made two kinds of cookies - one from a box. Most of my gifts are bagged, not wrapped, and I didn't even make sure I had even numbers of green and red tissue-wrapped stuffers for the stockings. In fact, I drank for the better part of my wrapping hours.

Inevitably, two days before Christmas, my kids will be watching TV (which is what they will do for the next 10 days on their "Winter Break") and suddenly say, "Hey, Mom! THAT'S on the TOP of my Christmas list!!!" I'll look at this item that I've never seen or heard of before in my life and wonder where the hell this little gem was a month ago when I asked them to list and prioritize their Christmas wants.

The older they get, the more expensive their list items become. And the older I get, the poorer I seem to become. You do the math. My older son has pictures of very expensive drum sets plastered all over the refrigerator. He's not a beginner musician, so trying to get one of those Ronco "As Seen on TV" drum sets isn't going to cut it. I'm also not ready to part with that kind of money, even if it's the only way to get him to smile and perhaps say, "Thanks, Mom! You're the BEST!"

I've tried to adhere to my rule - THREE GIFTS. Just like Jesus got. One big gift from Santa, and two from "Mom and Dad" (even though we're divorced, we share this expense. Thank God. I pity the divorced and/or blended families who are forced to do two Christmases and the kids end up double-dipping.) Anyway, a couple of years ago, I got sick of Santa getting the credit for the big gift. "Santa's so cool, Mom - you never would have gotten us that." and the inevitable, "You can't take that away from us! Santa gave that to us!" Screw that. Santa can give you underwear and socks from now on. You're 10 and 14 now. Mom rules; Santa sucks. Deal with it.

So like every other year, it's less than 36 hours before the big day and I'm worried that a) it's not enough; b) they're not going to like what they got and c) this Christmas will be the one that will go down in history as "The Year Mom Lost It".

I think back to my Christmases as a child - I don't really know what my parents spent on the four of us other than they made sure it was "equal" - as if we were mentally calculating our share of the pot then holding court later that night to determine who Mom and Dad liked best that year. I don't remember ever feeling gypped, slighted, or the least bit disappointed no matter what I got. So, either my parents were AWESOME at satisfying my EVERY need, or in the end, the things I thought I really wanted just didn't matter as much as I thought they did.

I don't know how my parents did it - and still do. Every year, Mom bakes cookies. Not from a box. The ones you make and chill the dough and cut out with cookie cutters and decorate. Yeah, those. She shops all year long for every child, grandchild, great-grandchild and all the other miscellaneous members of our family. She wraps each gift impeccably and yes, still makes sure that the four kids are equally gifted.

I feel like such a loser. To make matters worse, up until last year, Mom made virtually everything for Christmas dinner. We finally convinced her to do the main dish and the desserts, and we would bring the rest - whatever we wanted. Know what I'm bringing? Rolls, Jell-O Jigglers, and fruit. Why? Because that's pretty much all my kids will eat, plus my sister and brother took all the good stuff and are waaaaay better cooks than me.

*Sigh*. I do look forward to Christmas morning. My kids are usually genuinely thankful and pleased. It's nice to get the family together. And to get me through those Christmas night doldrums? Packers vs. Bears at 7:30. You guess who I'm rooting for and here's a hint. It doesn't start with a "B".

Seriously, win or lose, I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas experience, no matter where you are and who you are with. A friend of mine offhandedly made a simple remark to me today that really resonated:  "Count your blessings, and forget the rest." I hope you all will take time to appreciate the blessings in your life, and for just one day, forget the other stuff. I know I will certainly try - if not for just one day.


  1. Felt your post. Praying for you & your family to have a blessed Christmas Amy!

  2. Merry Christmas, Amy. I hope you are bringing some of the Jello Shot Jigglers to partake of during the game..... =)

  3. I've noticed too that some years I am more into it than others. It really depends on how much you have on your plate. I envy the Mom's that bake cookies from scratch in the kitchen. I can never see myself having the patience to do that. Sometimes I buy them someone elses fancy cutely decorated home-made cookies and hope that suffices.

    I think too, that everyone has this idea that other peoples Christmas' are more romantic and heartwarming than their own. That would be a misconception, in my opinion.

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful boys. You are a great Mom and a true friend.

    Look forward to having more opportunity next year to get together with you and our combined broods. ;-)


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