The Perfect Christmas

It isn’t even December yet, and Christmas is already making headlines. Can we please let Thanksgiving dinner digest first?! I am so tired of hearing about “Black Friday” sales, predictions, and atheists trying to “shut down Christmas.” Let it go people.

There’s a poll out and an accompanying NBC headline “Why One Poll says 45% Would Rather Skip Christmas” which essentially says that most Americans are unprepared for “holiday spending” and

Although many of these consumers are on better financial footing and optimistic about their economic future this year, the holidays are still a source of stress and strain on their precarious finances, Think Finance said in the poll.

No, really?

Precarious finances aside, the holidays are a source of stress and strain anyway. Everything MUST BE PERFECT, or so says my Inner Perfectionist from the dark recesses of the closet my Inner Realist has locked it.

I admit, my Inner Perfectionist did escape long enough to get cards ordered in early November, but my Inner Realist made them postcards (instead of full-color tri-fold with coordinating photo ornament), and candid photos of the kids (instead of hiring a professional, or going some place scenic with the express intent of getting THE PERFECT FAMILY PHOTO).

I also refrained from sending what my husband deemed to be “inappropriate” Christmas cards (what, they’re all screaming Jesus is the Reason for the Season, what’s wrong with a stark reminder?! Actually, Axial Tilt is the reason we have seasons Jesus is just the justification for the presents, but I wasn’t allowed to put that either*). Now I have to decide if I want to hand-address the 110 cards or print off mailing labels. These decisions!

The biggest problem with Christmas is we don’t have a fireplace, so we don’t have a mantle, so not only do we NOT HAVE A PLACE FOR SANTA** to come in, we also don’t have a place to hang our coordinating homemade (by me in a fit of over-achieving) stockings. My Inner Perfectionist is really freaking out about this – good thing it is locked in the closet!

We also don’t have a live Christmas tree anymore, the kids pulled up the drip system that was watering it so it died this summer. It had been with us for 2-3 Christmases now and had outlived my husband’s prediction of “it won’t last past New Year” (that was in 2010).

So I’m a little freaked out by the no-tree situation. Do I buy another potted one? I like this idea best. Do we chop down a live one? Maybe, but they drop needles everywhere. Do we *gasp* get a pre-lit artificial one? – my husband feels very strongly AGAINST this last idea -I tend to agree because we have no room to store the blasted thing.

Christmas also means struggling with explaining to my mother/MIL that the boys really don’t need any more toys. They have plenty, they’re usually happiest with the cardboard boxes we bring back from Costco and an old sheet, or some old paint brushes and a bucket of water so they can “paint” the fence. A little broom will keep them happy for a good half an hour as they push dirt and mulch across the patio. They do not need more gimmicky, plastic, noise-making, battery-operated, character licensed crap (there are exceptions to this rule but they are far and few between).

The biggest issue I’m facing is one the kids are happily oblivious to, since I no longer self-identify as Christian, are we really celebrating Christmas? Kid1’s school has a Winter Faire and Advent Circle, they have “Sprites Night” (a fall festival around Halloween), and celebrate a few other festivals and seasonal events throughout the year.

Christmas is a wonderful mid-winter festival with a focus on family and togetherness. Bringing fresh greenery inside reminds us that the winter will end (eventually), and the lights on the tree twinkle in the growing dark of late afternoon. Hot chocolate, peppermint, and ginger cookies are tasty. What isn’t to like about a holiday that promotes such things?

We have managed to take a wonderful mid-winter celebration which was initially reveling over the sun’s triumph the dark days of winter, into an overly commercialized mess involving a fat man in a red suit and flying reindeer with some over-bearing Christian iconography kicked in for good measure.

I am NOT offended by nativity scenes, or cities that want to erect Christmas trees, if people would like to celebrate Christ’s birth that’s cool (killing people over Black Friday deals is NOT), but please don’t get offended when someone wishes you “Happy Holidays” – Christmas isn’t the only thing going on from November-February (that and the concept of Paxmas, while really cool, takes a bit of explaining).

*And by “allowed” I had no real intent of putting them on the cards anyway, the “disapproving” phone call from my mother/MIL is more than enough to discourage those sorts of things. The generic “happy holiday season” we already put on the cards causes enough grief.
*I don’t think we’ve actually bothered to tell the kids about Santa and I don’t see any reason to… he’s a not real, sort of like God and the Easter Bunny… the difference is I like the Easter Bunny, he leaves chocolate eggs.
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Update: More great articles: “It’s time to ban Christmas presents” “Why are retailers ruining Thanksgiving” and “Holiday Travel Tips from the TSA” (don’t bother bringing food).

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