When I was a wee tot, what I used to look forward to most on Christmas was going to both Grandmas' houses, and the visit from Santa Christmas morning. Nothing topped Grandma L's chocolate fudge (that she only made once a year), and Grandma D's Christmas cookies... not to mention the piles of gifts waiting for use at both homes, AND what Santa left for us under our own tree. As I have grown older, and perhaps a little wiser, I have come to get excited about other aspect of the season. Writing/sending/receiving Christmas cards, Christmas shopping for my friends, and wrapping gifts. I look forward to the last day before Christmas celebrating and laughing with my co-workers -- hugging, exchanging small gifts and cards, and wishing each other Merry Christmas before going home for the holiday.. Christmas Mass and singing the beautiful hymns (especially Adeste Fideles), having a meal with my family, seeing friends, and kicking back and relaxing.. and maybe indulging in the Christmas cookies I now make.
A holiday to me is simple.. having a good time with people you care about. My family doesn't make things easy, and this Christmas is no exception. I was never a fan of a gift exchange between my siblings and myself. Let's face it.. we don't like each other most of the year, why fake it now for the sake of a holiday? All of us are financially suffering, so why burden ourselves with spending more?? When I told Mom that I wanted to cut Joe and Katie out, I got that look that she works so well. Joe came over for dinner (I swear he never eats at his house), and Mom told him sarcastically that I did not intend to exchange gifts. "Of course not, Mike won't do anything fun." I told him how broke I was, and that I have even been looking into working extra hours at Sam's Club just to get more money for gift shopping. That's absurd to have to work longer hours at a different store just to buy someone I don't even like a present. I told him to take the money he would spend on me, put it into his house, and we're good to go. Didn't work for him.
There was one Christmas that Katie was so broke with school that she made everyone chocolate-peanut butter balls as a gift... a nice, CHEAP gift. Why was it ok for Katie to skip out of the exchange because she was broke, but not me? Again, Joe didn't see any kind of relationship between the two examples.
It frustrates me to no end that my family can be so difficult. Can't we just enjoy a meal together and enjoy that? We exchange gifts with our parents, exchange with our spouses/significant others (those of us who have them), and exchange with our close friends. Isn't that enough? Why does the list have to be longer? My grandparents were happy with an orange and some nuts in their stockings.. why do we need $300 worth of crap to enjoy a holiday? Don't people remember Christ was born in a stable because they couldn't afford anything else?? Leave it up to my family to take something fun and enjoyable and make it into a match to see who can out do whom.
In an attempt to not turn into Scrooge, I agreed to play Santa at walmart this Saturday. I think I have to play the part for about two hours or so. It's a free event we do for the kids, getting a free picture taken with Santa. The assistant managers promise me they are going to get my store manager (drooool) to sit on my lap. I think I have a better chance of hitting the lotto! My friend Lenny from the hardware department (whom we all call Papa Smurf) said to management, "Why the hell didn't you let him play Santa when he was fat? Now we have to buy a pillow to put under the suit." He made my day! lol