Well folks, tis that time of year again where the magic of giving and receiving and celebrating is descending upon us like that welcome blanket complete with the rope and the big rock it's all attached to that are going to yank us into the dark abyss of a lake, surprisingly not very far from here.
Yep...I'm being sarcastic of course, but it's definitely that time of year when family gets together to remind one another of where we come from. Where we can make the time to appreciate one another and remind each other how much we care.
And of course, then there's Santa and all the wonder and magic He, I mean She, inspires in us all to be gracious givers and even more gracious receivers. Honestly, it takes a LOT to make just the basics of magic happen at any time of year...and most of all at Christmas. There are only so many hours in the day for mom's like me to fit in magic making after surviving the office, and daily grind of eat your supper, wipe your butt, wash your hands, and for the last time "PLEASE AND THANK YOU"...er...please and thank you. Don't you know Santa is watching every single breath you take you little monster.
And this year amounts to no different at our household. In an effort to better control the budget this year, I got my sewing machine humming in mid summer and vowed that this year, I would make 50% of our Christmas gifts for family and friends. At the end of the day, I only buy for a couple of our friends, and the rest is family and when all is said and done, I still have 35 people to buy for. And I'm not the person who gives a small trinket and thinks "cool" we're all done here. Each gift I give is actually well thought out. Doesn't mean it's often expensive - I am a thrifty shopper. But when you have to buy 35 gifts, well, it adds up no matter how cheap you are.
I often wish very much that I were a trinket lover and thrifty-strong enough to say, well folks it's been nice but I'm only buying for the hubby and kid this year. I just can't. It's not in my nature. I've tried, and others have tried, but I'm in such a habit now of starting in January, that by the time December 1st has arrived, I'm ready to decorate, wrap and celebrate. I honestly don't expect things in return, but I have to admit, I'm probably one of those people you hate at the holidays because they make you feel obligated to reciprocate. And December is stocked up with celebratory events. Getting around to see each and every one of the people in our lives that mean the most to us, well, sometimes it's a burden to be so blessed. Christmas for us literally begins in November when we chip in to help my grandmother decorate, and starts peaking the first weekend in December when visiting begins. Then it's dance recitals, Christmas concerts, visits with Santa, visits with family, hosting family dinner and my goodness, please let's not forget the wrapping, stashing, hiding and baking...
I'll admit though, I was liking the fact that there was just a bit of extra cash on hand to buy for the hubby and my baby girl this year...that was until our 3 year old started behaving like a mean girl at school, and demonstrated that it was high time she learned what it was like to have less and be a bit kinder in general. And so we have begun our push to find things of a charitable nature we can do that will help instill in her a strong foundation of humility. In a real tangible way.
So in an effort to kick start this, we're now going to be adopting a family in our community. Giving them a Christmas so that my daughter can participate in the shopping and delivering of these things to a centre where our family can then collect them. It may not make a whole lot of sense to her this year, but this will undoubtedly be the first of many. We'll also be wedging in time to clean out our closets as a family so she sees that all of us are participating in a donation process and that all of us are working to meet the needs of our community and are being "kind to others". When they say parenting isn't for the weak or the selfish, they really bloody well mean it. This was in no way time and effort and money I had budgeted for. And these efforts really will be wedged in between things that are critical to be done if our magic is going to be kept in tact and as planned. And while I know the sanctimonious will be happy to remind me that this is truly the joy of parenting and something I should appreciate, I gotta be honest. I'm already charitable with people who matter the most to me. I'm respectful and kind and giving to just about anyone, but I'm not a "charity" kind of person either.
And so, the savings I've accrued by hand making so many of our family's gifts to others this year, is now being spent on those who really need it. And the people who receive my handmade crafts and goodies will know how much I love them because of the effort that was put into them. And God willing, my child learns by example that it's better to give than receive, to have love and warmth rather than things, and that all people deserve to be treated with decency, dignity and respect. Crap there's a ton of lessons to be taught - no wonder our parents always sounded so damn preachy. I feel preachy and I haven't even started for real yet.
Golly, someone better get me a strong soapbox. I could be here a while.