Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Love (and Hate) the Holidays

I just seem to be of two minds about everything these days. But before we get to Christmas, let's recap Thanksgiving!

We had no familial visitors this year. But no need for a pity party here. We were taken in by friends King and Fiona and had an excellent time. The kids all played well together, generally leaving the adults alone. The actual meal can be a wild card when you have kids who trend picky, as mine do. When Fiona asked what sides they wanted, I explained that last year, Eion had a Gogurt. There is simply no point in trying to please them. But we had no complaining (hooray!) and they each ate the items they liked. In Eion's case, his meal consisted entirely of rolls. Morrigan was a tiny bit more adventurous, having turkey, rolls and pomegranate seeds. Maggie ate what could be construed as a downright normal plate of food, dominating a drumstick, cauliflower, rolls and pomegranate seeds. But best of all, they praised it as "the best Thanksgiving meal ever." 

When we left, I was planning to head home but the kids insisted Hans had invited us over so we had to stop by. They had lots of family in town and we were happy to join the fray. It was an excellent day.

So back to my love/hate relationship with the holidays. Let's start with hate so we can end on an up-note. 

I hate the commercialization of Christmas. The two stations on my radio presets that turn to 24-7 holiday music a full two weeks before Thanksgiving. The fact that this was ever made:

Why use just any old plate, mug, paper and note holder (seriously?) when leaving a message for the fictional man in red? [Sorry, should have added a spoiler alert there but if you didn't know already, I'm doing you a favor.] Take any creativity out of the whole exercise and buy a box of crap from China. Make sure your kids know what is important here. It's not the gift and personalized letter to Santa, it is the delivery method. Yuck.

And further in the soulless category, we have these, for when you care, well, really not at all but you have to give this person something.

Then there are these non-food items. Having the whole family over? Don't bother with real food. Here, eat this processed, alarming crap.

Let's not forget Black Friday, a day wrong in, let's face it, all ways. You have the original incarnation which was people getting up crazy early on Friday to score a discounted tv (6 available at each location!) Every year people, up extra early to get in that holiday spirit, are pushing, shoving and shouting to buy things they desperately need, like a blue ray player. But it keeps getting worse. People are camping out days early, missing Thanksgiving, in order to shop. The stores, responding to the insanity, decide to open even earlier and earlier before dropping the sham of a holiday at all and just going ahead and opening on Thanksgiving. So we've taken a day to reflect, give thanks and be with the people we love and made it into a shop-a-rama. That is what I hate about the holidays.

Slow down there, you say. Where is the love, so prominently advertised in the title of this post? While the over-commercialization makes my teeth itch, I really truly love Christmas. 

I love decorating. The day after Thanksgiving, we were out there (though not at 5am) getting a tree. Which, by the by, made it home safely and quite secure. 

The kids and I couldn't wait to get started. [As a measure of full disclosure, I did buy one Black Friday deal. The Home Depot had 6" poinsettias for $1 each (limit 10.) But I promise, I was not there at the crack of dawn and injured zero other shoppers when I acquired them!] So many of our decorations have a history: latch hook Santa, crafted by Tim's own hands (as I found out the year I tried to get rid of it - never again), the nativity set made by Great Grandma in her ceramics years, and the ornaments Tim and I have collected over the course of our marriage. (Mostly I collected but he was kind enough not to balk at my affinity for sterling silver snowflakes.) It's like a trip down memory lane each year.

I love shopping for presents. I am not much a shopper in general, as my wardrobe will attest, but I dig shopping for others. My stash for the kids grows daily. If you need to know where it is, just ask Eion. He already told me he found it.

I love holiday parties. Tim and I are hosting a party and I am co-hosting, as always, the bad sweater party for the ladies. And I love one of our newest traditions, the Christmas Eve extended family get together. With a few other families, we pick a house and whoever can shows up for snacks and drinks.

The things I love about the holidays are the important and sometimes overlooked: the joy of giving, being with friends and family, and celebrating just how fortunate we are. The next month is one of my favorite times of the year - I can't wait.

And now that Thanksgiving is over, I will happily listen to the all-carols stations.

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