That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? Gah–I feel like a walking contradiction. But allow me to explain: I have two children, ages six and three. Along with my husband, we drove to a Christmas tree farm in the North Carolina mountains. This drive is two hours one way, and my children followed standard in-car procedures: fight, argue, whine, and complain. (I only wish I could hear the oft-dreaded “are we there yet?”–rather, I’m the recipient of “she’s looking at me!” or “he hit me with a pencil!”) The negativity was broken up by discussion of choosing our tree, taking pictures with/of Buck the horse, and riding the wooden sled back through the field with our tree.
Fast forward to our arrival: we got out and walked to the far end of the field, searching for green-tagged trees. My son (the eldest) forged ahead, bent on finding everything with the green ribbon. My least ‘un, the girl, lagged behind him, us following and watching them enjoy themselves. My husband found a nice-looking tree early on, and we circled around it to make sure nothing better was out there. In the end, it won out–I was assigned to wait there with the kids while he found someone to cut it down for us. Within just a couple of minutes, they became bored and declared they wanted to go find Daddy.
“No, stay here. He’s coming right back.”
“We want to find him!”
“He’s gone to get someone to cut down our tree. Stay with me, he’ll be right back.”
“We’re going to find Daddy!”
And they left me. Wandered off into the trees, heading for the path the horse takes with the sled. I couldn’t leave the tree–we might not find it again. But I couldn’t let the kids wander away, either, so I whipped out my phone and texted my husband:
They’ve walked off toward the path. Look for them, they aren’t listening when I say stay with me
You see them?
I have to stay where I am at.
I do not see them.
I abandoned the tree and made a bee-line for the path. Guess what? No kids. No kids up the path, no kids down the path. Just other people. I hoofed it back across the field, heading for the pasture, and spotted them a few feet from the gate. Everyone I passed saw That Look I Get, the one that says I’m pissed and I’m going to murder someone, sometime, as soon as I find them. Of course, I wouldn’t hurt my kids–but I did hurt their feelings. As soon as I got close, I got their attention and told them we were going to the car. (Cue crying and complaining.) My son complied, surprisingly enough, but my daughter seemed determined to cause a scene–to the point that one of the tree farmers stopped and asked what was wrong.
“They’re mad because I told them we’re going to the car. They wandered off, and if they won’t listen, they’ll wait in the car.”
(She glanced between them.) “Well, they have to learn they can’t just walk off.”
And that was that. I took them to the car, got off their muddy shoes, and we waited. They missed the tree cutting, the ride in the sled, the horse, everything. Naturally, I got blamed for all of it. They were angry and crying, I was angry and crying, and my poor husband had to do as much damage control as he could manage. All in all, it pretty much ruined an outing I look forward to every year. On top of that, my husband inadvertently broke our tree stand, so we’ve spent more money replacing it; far better than leaking water all over the carpet, however. It’s only that I looked at it like I’ve been looking at almost everything: it’s just One More Thing To Do. My list is already so long, I think I’ll die and they can wrap me in it like a mummy.
That’s the crux of this post–that my Christmas feels so un-Christmasy. I’m not in the mood for it (haven’t been for a few years, really). Christmas has become such a chore! It’s running around trying to find presents for people who don’t need anything, nor can they think of one thing they want–myself included! (When children look at you and say they don’t know what they want for Christmas, I think it’s a testament to how much they already have.) I wish we could stop, sit, and just BE. Everyone’s screaming about the reason for the season and Family Time and slowing down, but we’re out there buying presents at 10 pm Thanksgiving Day, when just a few years ago we were laughing at how crazy it was to be getting up at 4 am on Black Friday. The holidays are compressing, jamming in more activities, more shopping, and more costs into the same amount of time. It’s simply too much!
We’re all a pretty comfortable lot, not in (dire) straits or going without; in fact, most of us have too much in our homes. My house is packed full, and I really need to get rid of a lot that I have. So there’s that, too. (I suggested one year that we take our Christmas budgets and donate, but my grandmother shot that down. She feels it won’t be Christmas if she doesn’t have presents for everyone.) I’ve determined that I’m just going to cut my budget even further, and buy one or two small things I hope people will like. The rest, it’ll have to be gift cards. At least those will be used (books for Kindles and Nooks, oh my!). Is it wrong to be tired of the buying, buying, buying–even if it directly relates to giving?