It is the holiday season and our house celebrates Christmas. The true Christmas centered around the birth of Christ. Our family also celebrates Christmas with gifts and other worldly traditions (cookies/carols/movies/get-togethers). These celebrations always leave us a bit underwhelmed and a lot overwhelmed all at the same time.
We do a fair job of controlling things for our house and have a 3 gift limit…..two from Santa and one from mom and dad. If 3 gifts were good for Baby Jesus, they certainly should be more than enough for our kids. Now, that being said – Christmas at our house is still CRAZY. Just simple math will demonstrate this……there are 8 kids that get 3 gifts each.
So, MrTB4M and I spend time trying to get something the kids will like, that will be useful, and that will give them something to do. Of course, we also follow a budget. These trips to shop often lead to a few differences of opinion. You see, MrTB4M is great at picking out things the kids would “really like” (such as the newest electronic game system or the largest Lego set) but he is ADVERSE to things the girls really would like (such as new clothes/shoes).
Our kids make lists every year and the older they get, the smaller the lists get. Our older boys really ask for fewer and fewer frivolous things and include things they need or will need that they don’t want to have to buy for themselves (clothes/sports equipment). The little boys make lists that are filled with things from their imagination – for example this year J7 has asked for a lawnmower, weed eater, blower, hat, and safety glasses. This of course is for the lawn business he runs to mimic that of the older boys. J6 asked for a multitude of things including a phone (which he won’t getJ). Somedays you can start to wonder if they really are so caught up in the commercialism that they don’t really understand what Christmas is.
AND then – out of the blue – I am in the middle of a shuttle run for some activity or another and J6 says to me “Mom, do you remember that place we stayed with the really cool bunkbeds?” “No, what are you talking about?” Back and forth it goes, like 20 questions, trying to figure out exactly what J6 is referring to. Finally he says “You know mom. Before the boys went to college we stayed in a hotel – all of us – so we could swim and hang out.” Ah ha! First weekend of August we took a little weekend trip – the last weekend everyone would be together for a while and we were doing a little early birthday celebration for J4.
Now this trip was nothing to speak of; a four hour drive, a basic hotel (but, it had a “waterpark”) and nothing else planned. It was a great time while we were there – everyone had a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the time away. We returned home and shuttled boys off to college, started school for everyone else, and fell into our normal routines.
Who would have thought that was what J6 would remember? Now that I figured out what he was talking about, I still had to answer him. “Yes, I remember. Why?” “I think we should go back again. I really liked us all going away together and I miss my brothers.” Sniff, sniff! “J6 that costs a lot of money, I am not sure we will be able to go back there anytime soon.” Then, he says (very quietly) “We don’t have to pay to do anything there, can’t we just go so we can all stay together in the same room as a family.” My sweet (and yet very trying) 7 year old just wants a chance to have us all together in one space doing “nothing”.
Maybe the kids are getting that there is more to life than stuff and money and that the important things are the people. Maybe that was a message to us to step back and stop always focusing on what we need in the future and enjoy a little now.
Maybe there is hope for the future that the choices MrTB4M and I make are changing our kids for the better. Maybe the little things really are making big impacts. AND hopefully we will not have to explain to any Grinches in our house that “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas – perhaps – means a little bit more.” – Dr. Seuss