Wednesday, December 26

what made this year different

2007 family photo

It is barely a secret that I am a holiday hater. Before having kids, Andrew and I already decided not to try on New Year's, given that it usually ended in disappointment and tears. We gave it another shot and hosted a party our first year in Vancouver, but it was a mess of burnt fondue, screaming babies and trivial pursuit (which is a game that you should only ever play with people you already hate).

With all the other stuff going on here, I had cynically hoped to similarly turn Christmas into a non-event. This stance was the basis for a series of long, loud, deep and eventually enlightening debates between my husband and I. It came to be that we agreed that this should be a holiday filled with love, family and cheer. We also agreed that most of the typical Christmas crapification could be left in the hands of other people (before you worry, oh friends and family, I am not referring to any of you - I am thinking about the people with loads of gaudy lights and inflatable Santas and piles off throw-away gifts laying under the tree). We could not quite get on the same page as far as rules on gifts for our kids from other people, but looking back, we had nothing to worry about.

As it happened, I didn't worry much about Christmas. I didn't want to spend a lot of time away from home and risk falling too far out of the new positive routines that are finally becoming natural, so I was a bit of an ass and insisted our visit to Vancouver Island be short (I was talked into staying overnight - and am really glad we did!). But once that was done, I didn't worry about it. Gifts were the same, the few I had to buy on behalf of others were well thought-out and my shopping trip was short and not too costly. Stocking stuffers came from a swap I did among a group of mothers for our kids, plus a few I purchased (bath bombs, a mini rolling pin, a harmonica, a tiny kaleidoscope and a colouring book), and a couple things from the grandparents and Sebastian's aunt and uncle.

We'd told people we didn't need anything, nor did we expect anything, but that if they wanted there were a few things we would appreciate. My list was nearly all books, so I now have four books I am eager to devour. Andrew got a t-shirt that lights up near wireless networks and some much-appreciated movies. We will likely refer to this as the year of Thomas as time goes on - Sebastian made out well and got a whole bunch of Thomas the Tank toys. But, he didn't get heaps and heaps of stuff - he got enough to justify a good toy-cull, but all of it is stuff he will play with and stuff that requires using his imagination, including a pooping pig - a stocking gift from his Aunt that he LOVES, and I will sheepishly admit I love it too! It is hilarious, it poops jelly beans (which were confiscated before he got a chance to figure out they were made of sugar) and you fill it through it's flip-down head. Rigby got a lot of clothes and a few toys, a pretty typical first Christmas haul.

Family and friends respecting our limits, plus a little alcohol, helped the holidays go smoothly, but the chief thing that made these holidays not just bearable, but my best so far as an adult, was effort and willingness on the part of myself and my family to let things just be what they were. And they were.


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