Friday, December 24, 2010

A Presentless Christmas

Every year we say we are not going to do presents. Then it turns into a very limited budget for just a few close family. Then reality hits, you can't buy a decent present for less than $30 each, and the circle gets just a little bigger. Then before you know it commercial Christmas, like every other money-sucking year, has taken over and under the tree is overflowing with the cheer of goodwill and giving. The intention of gift giving is wonderful, and the joy is real. When you thoughtfully pick out a gift someone you love will love it feels good. But most of us will agree the intention has become excessive. Expectation rules the concept and there is too much importance placed on the gifts and not the joy of the holiday itself. Baby Jesus was a King, and the wise sages of the day brought presents to him to show respect and welcome him into the world. We celebrate this day because as Christians we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. As Americans it is tradition, like in most western countries. No matter where your religion lies, Christmas is acknowledged by a lot of people.

But this morning, Christmas Eve, I woke early (thanks to a loud and whining dog who has now gone back to sleep) and there is not 1 single present under our tree. We have really stuck with the agreement to not exchange gifts and it is the most amazing and liberating feeling! The tree is just as beautiful as it is every year, maybe more so because there is no trussed-up and dazzling packages tumbling out from under it to distract. I have had NO stress of who needs what, mall frenzy shopping, spending money I just don't have on gifts people really don't need, wrapping and tagging and shipping by postal imposed deadlines. I have been busy trying to live everyday life and have not had to push and sacrifice for a holiday that has forgotten its true spirit. We are going to PetSmart today, and will wrap up some puppy toys because Yorkie unwraps gifts (yes I will be recording it) and it is too fun to torture the dogs with rawhide stocking stuffers inches from their nose yet completely unaccessable. And I will find a little something for my mom because she is my mom and we are going to her house for dinner tonight, but my husband and I have made a different choice, and have actually stuck to it this year!

Will it be strange to wake up tomorrow morning and NOT open presents from my husband? Yes, I am sure it will. But we have plans for a low-key and relaxing holiday with lots of good food, egg nog and brandy and some badly needed rest & relaxation. And we have New Years plans that we are both greatly anticipating. Remember back in September, a little over a month after my strokes, when I could not afford to take him to our favorite restaurant for his birthday dinner? Well we made reservations then for New Years Eve (which will be our 11th engagement anniversary) at that same restaurant with the hope and prayer that our financial situation would improve enough by years end to be able to afford the highfalutin meal. So we will see, we have 48 hours to cancel. Money is not pouring in from anywhere but the bills are paid, the house is warm and our bellies are full. What more could someone who was all but certain brain surgery or death were in my eminent future 5 short months ago want? Merry Christmas friends. Blessings to all!

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  1. As you know Leah, I've been pretty much bedridden for the past month with all of the addtional crud I've had on top of the Fibro...most recently the stomach flu & now laryngitis. I've spent so much energy and frustration on the fact that I haven't been able to do the things I usually do at Christmastime...sending out cards & buying gifts...things that were promised and/or expected from me. Today, though I'm still not quite up to the challenge, I was going to literally "shop till I drop" just so Al & I could go over to my brother's place tomorrow with gifts in hand for everyone. I had ordered a DVD for my Niece a while back and although it's not much, I know she'd appreciate it. But, what about the rest of my family? Al says I shouldn't care what they think and what's most important is my health...stating "if they can't understand that, than (screw 'em) they don't deserve you or your kindness!" So, as I posted on my wall today, I've spent the morning going back and forth on whether or not I should get all gussied up before Al gets home from work so we can go shop till the stores close (or I can't handle anymore...which ever comes first). There's a huge part of me that says no and just wants to get some sleep since I haven't slept much lately and my pain level is already at mulberry. But, the overwhelming guilt is pulling at me to just "suck it up" (as my Dad would say) and go because it's expected of me and I hate letting people down. Plus, I really don't care to deal with the aftermath that would most likely follow if I don't. UGH! I wish my family felt as I do about the true meaning of Christmas...what it really means to "give" & "receive". That would make this all so much easier to handle :)

    Merry Christmas everyone & Happy Birthday Jesus!!!

    Love to you all!

  2. Andrea, I wouldn't shop on Christmas Eve if I was perfectly healthy. I hope you make the right decision for "you!" Happy Holidays!

  3. I envy you! My husband and I spent yet another exhausting Christmas traveling around dropping off gifts we could not really afford to the tune of about $1200, $800 of which is on credit cards. I ran around like a fool, spent hours wrapping to make things look wonderful just to watch them be torn open in 2.3 seconds. My body is rebelling, if I can move it it hurts, I am sleeping ok thank God, but I am looking at another round of Prednisone just to get my pain level and fatigue levels back in check. I really envy you. It inspires me to try next year to do the same. I wish you good health in the New Year, you certainly deserve it!