It’s interesting…half the people I talk to are so excited about the holidays, and the other half can’t wait for them to be over with! Which side are you on? Camp Santa or Camp Grinch?
I created many traditions while my kids were growing up. They were allowed to open ONE present on Christmas Eve. They loved that so much! In the morning, they would wait at the top of the stairs for the obligatory photo moment before coming down to see what “Santa” brought. They would always go to the fireplace and open the gifts in their stockings first, while also assisting the dogs in opening their stocking gifts as well. So precious!
We all wore the same hilarious matching pajamas every year. I remember that every holiday season, I would have to buy one new set, for Robert, and give Melanie Robert’s hand-me-downs from the year before because of how their growth was tracking. That’s the benefit of the “unisex” jammies!
I used to mail out hundreds of Christmas cards. However, I decided several years ago to stop doing that…partly for eco-friendly reasons, but also because I feel with social media, I can post a beautiful picture on Facebook to reach thousands of people and actually get responses and well wishes from friends and family! That feels more personal to me now.
I also used to spend days baking hundreds of cookies! I won’t get the chance to do that this year. So, while I’m sad not to be making my mother’s famous butter cookies, or my kids’ favorite sugar cookies, my waistline is thanking me!
I think about the hours I used to spend shopping, then wrapping. I loved wrapping the gifts. I still love wrapping. But, now that all of our kids are getting so much older, all they want for Christmas these days is money. So, there are far fewer gifts that need wrapping.
Decorating the tree was a job! First, there was the tree, which took me hours because it had to be just perfect! I love a really full, really bright tree. After the tree was finished, then we (uh, I mean I) would put together the village and electric train underneath. It was worth it in the end, because it was so beautiful. The kids and I would sit and stare at it all, there was so much to look at.
I used to host Christmas day about every other year. There was so much planning and work that went into doing that, because not only did all food need to be prepped and tables set, but the house had to be immaculate and all the Christmas presents from the morning needed to be packed up. What a bummer for the “kiddles!” They barely got to open their toys before they had to be put away.
As I look back on those years, I could totally understand why some people would be in Camp “Grinch.” There’s a lot of work involved during the holidays…it’s expensive, it’s tiring, dealing with family isn’t always fun. But…I wouldn’t trade a single moment of that time. It was worth every crowded mall, late night wrapping and writing out cards, burns from the oven while baking, and all the family shenanigans.
This year, for me and where I am right now in my life, the holidays are not stressful at all. Perhaps it’s partly because my kids are with their dad in Chicago, so they are not here to cook and clean for. But, we are leaving for vacation on Christmas Day and my entire family is meeting in Jamaica. So, I opted to not even have a tree this year. The closest thing I have to decorations in the house are the gifts sitting by the fireplace that I’ll be handing out between now and Christmas. It hardly feels like Christmas at all…except in my heart.
The life I used to know changed drastically five years ago. However, I love my new life. I love that I now give my kids “experiential” gifts, like trips to Jamaica, instead of another sweater or pair of boots. I also give them books. I give them books for every occasion. I prefer to give them something that will last forever…memories and inspiration.
What I’ve learned is that the only constant in life is change. Those were wonderful, cherished times filled with both joy and stress, but life moves on. And now, in the new chapter, things look different, but that doesn’t make them any less special. Christmas spirit is in the heart. That’s where it lives. As I say in “I Have Today”, happiness is an inside job. There is nothing outside of us. Everything we need, want, desire is within us…even Santa! If you read any of my blogs, watch any of my videos, read my book, then you know how I feel…every single moment of our lives is such a GIFT. That’s the greatest gift of all!
Camp “Santa” Forever!!!
Quote: There is no better gift a society can give children than the opportunity to grow up safe and free – the chance to pursue whatever dreams they may have. – John Roberts