So, it turns out that Christmas is a time to spoil your children absolutely rotten. I thought I had done pretty decently with Sprite's presents, from the three foot tall Rapunzel mannequin which has been an almost constant companion since she opened it, to the Tag Reading System, Alice in Wonderland dress and shoes, and some smaller gifts to round out her experience. Adding to these, the gifts she received from very thoughtful aunts and uncles, and she was a pretty happy kid by the end of Christmas Day.
But when we got home, I ventured on to Facebook to see the before and after pictures of other people's Christmas trees, practically hidden by the mounds of wrapped promise sitting beneath, beside, and sometimes even dwarfing the Wisconsin Pine. I would have thought one big ticket item was enough, (Sprite's Rapunzel "sister" was $54.00, but I had a 50% off coupon for Target right before Black Friday, so our big expensive gift only cost us $27.00. In fact, I had only budgeted eighty dollars for her anyway.) but I saw pictures of kids requiring step stools to get to the top floor of their dollhouses before clicking to the next photo of the same child uncovering a bike, more dolls, a laptop, and a video game system. Of course, this is not counting the stocking stuffers. Taking a group shot of the lucky child surrounded by her grab, I counted some thirty gifts.
I understand that I'm not used to the entire Christmas experience, seeing as Hanukkah is a grand total of 8 presents, one of them a larger desired gift while the others are more educational or artsy craftsy. I asked John if he had also gotten so much as a kid and expected an answer of no, thinking the days of quantity were maybe more recent. Imagine my surprise when he rolled his eyes and smiled in memory as he recounted the one Christmas where he received the entire Star Wars collection along with the Millenium Falcon, roller skates, a bicycle, and other assorted toys. Of course, with his other two brothers also receiving their fair share of loot, I asked him if there even WAS a Christmas tree since it seemed Santa could barely leave them under the ROOF, let alone some lit branches.
So tell me, what is the typical number of presents for kids to receive on Christmas? Are all the gifts from Santa or do the parents take some of the credit? Is there a big ticket item or many?
Funny how no matter how much thought you put into gifts, the kids will decide on their own which stands out as the favorite. Rapunzel was shoved into her younger cousins' faces along with the required "MY Rapunzel!" and the subsequent screams of "She's touching my Rapunzel!" when a little hand or even a tiny finger reached out to touch the silken tresses, so we figured her Santa gift was the spotlight taker. Until Sunday night when she asked me to open an updated version of paper doll dress up, a somewhat plain looking plastic sleeve set containing three baby girl hard board dolls, and their assorted magnetic "clothes" pieces to mix and match. Thinking of Sprite's usual fancy for the fantastic and vibrant colors, I honestly thought this less ostentatious present would blend into the background immediately.
I opened the neverending puzzle for her and left her in her room while I began dinner, actually having control over the television for once, flipping the station from Nick JR to the DIY network. Thinking I would have a few minutes before she grew bored of her project, it shocked me when, an hour later, the oven timer chimed signaling dinner was ready, and she was still absorbed in her activity.
Furthermore, the baby dolls each needed to be dressed for bedtime when she herself was getting ready.
Best part? I didn't have to change any doll clothes.
Best Christmas gift EVER.
Christmas Fail: Forgetting your camera. It's easy to halt the present proceedings when the camera was hastily left in the other room, but when it's two hours away? Kindly asking your mother-in-law and father and whatever relative happens to snap a pic of your child to Facebook you a copy gets a little wearing. On the photographer.
You all know I'm Jewish. And if you didn't, um, where have YOU been?? Anyway, I have my separate beliefs, but when Christmas comes, I put them aside to enjoy the season and the revelry with my in-laws because 1. it makes them happy to have me be a part of it, and 2. it makes me happy to be a part of it and wholeheartedly encourage Sprite to be a part of it. Yes, we're raising her in my faith, but we played up Santa big time this year, shouting out Merry Christmas to every family member we came across, even the Jewish ones. (Props to my folks for responding in like when Sprite gave them smacking kisses and Christmas tidings.) I like to think of us as one big motley crew, who, when celebrating anything, take pride in the fact that we're together to do it.
What has really bugged me this season is the non-believers who, thanks to the Internet and its instant gratification, can easily cast a Bah, Humbug! into someone else's figgy Facebook pudding when they post things like "....should repaint all the parking spaces at the church into Handicapped spots just to screw with all the people who only show up twice a year for Mass" or "Merry Mythmis!" or "feels this is the year to expose Santa."
I get it, folks. You don't believe. You have uncovered the secret of Christmas for all it really is, an excuse to buy crap for relatives you really can't stomach but only have to see once a year. That's fine, if that's what you want to believe.
I used to believe that too. Until I started spending the holidays with John's family since it was important to him, and I started looking forward to these holidays, because they became important to me. I am still 100% Jewish with no intent otherwise, but when someone greets me with "Merry Christmas!", I respond with the same. I don't remind them that they should respect my faith and save their cheer for someone else, instead I hug them right back, glad to see someone else in the spirit of being together with one another, with or without presents. That, to me, is the reason for the season.
So, when I saw these statuses dotting my Facebook read, I may have put a small wish for coal in their stockings while "liking" everyone else's statuses which were more festive, and more humane.
Somone else who's more festive and humane? Keely! Especially now that she's home from her holiday travels. Go on over and wish her a happy new year! And bring wine. I think she may need it..