Matt and I agreed not to exchange presents this year because we bought a new television. And then he bought me little things anyway. It was nice of him but it brought back memories of my mother and how she slowly changed Christmas over the years.
When we were kids she bought lots of presents and we decorated the house with fake holy, a tree, lots of lights and Christmas cards from family and friends taped to the pantry door. As we got older, she seemed to lose interest. By the time I was in high school, and she was about the age I am now, she really stopped caring. If we were going to decorate and have a tree I had to make it happen because I was the only one still living at home. My dad not really participate at all so he was no help.
As for presents, she would hand me money and say go buy gifts and make sure you get something for yourself. I went shopping and then wrapped all the gifts, including my own. Hey, why not? She insisted she really had everything she needed and she did not want presents. We bought them for her anyway, usually clothes we thought she needed and maybe a knick knack. She tried to be excited but more than anything she just fussed about how nothing fit and she didn’t need that new blouse or sweater anyway. What she had was fine.
As I was facing Christmas this year, I began to think that I might be arriving where my mother was. First, like my mom, I have come to the point that I just don’t need anything. One hundred and fourteen catalogs arrived in my mailbox in one week, selling all sorts of trinkets and googaws. As I leafed through them, all I could think was–have it, have it, have it, don’t need it, don’t need it, don’t need it. There is no longer the allure of objects, or jewelry, or anything else they are selling. If I am interested in something, usually having to do with cooking I just buy it for myself.(I bought cheesemaking kits this year.)
Then there are the traditions of Christmas. There was an article in the paper recently written by some young mother who confessed that she and her friends were killing themselves trying to be everything at Christmas–baking cookies, decorating, buying presents, sending cards and trying to keep up generations of traditions. They felt that if they did not do all of those things, somehow their kids would suffer and where were the spouses? I just thought, man, you need to relax! Stick to the priorities. Figure out what is worth doing and forget the rest. All that stuff does not bring true meaning to Christmas anymore than a giant diamond wedding ring ensures a good marriage.
I think that I have sorted through everything that is important to me and have concluded that I like the tree and outdoor lights. That is really what matters to me. So I have reduced my decorating inside to putting up a tree. I have an entire collections of Santas and snow men that I used to display. Now I don’t take the trouble. It just disrupts my house, it takes time to put them up and take them down and in the end, what difference does it make? Does it make Christmas any more special? Honestly, I don’t think so. I think that for my mom, it was not the decorating that was important, or even the gifts. She wanted us to be at home making noise and laughing. That was what mattered to her. The rest was just piffle.
Is it nice to give presents? Of course. And really, isn’t giving so much better than getting? That sure is how I feel. But somehow Matt and I carry on without exchanging gifts. Some years we do buy presents for each other, it depends on how we feel. When I am inspired I might buy presents for my family, or even strangers through organizations that set up gift giving for those in need. I have no set plan. Mostly, I prefer that we just enjoy each other with some good food, some good wine and lots and lots of talking and laughing with people we love.
One thought on “Christmas – Becoming my mom”
I too feel Mommy at Christmas. It is amazing how time changes all. I well remember her shopping and not finding anything to fit. It is me. I stand in the dressing room and she is on my shoulder saying I told you so. The joy of Christmas I think has been sucked out of us by the commercialism of the holiday. No longer buy or give something you would like to give but list of get this for them. This has been something I have come to hate when buying for the 3 kids. This year I let it go. I give up. John gets told what to buy and we buy it. It sucks. Anyway.
This year no tree just a few wreaths and my mantle covered with the playful snowmen I have collected. Christmas has become boring but enjoyable when with family or friends. Having lost too many friends it is strange each year to not have those fun times. Gifts too are not necessary. As you said, “have that, don’t need this, will buy for myself”.
Interesting how everyone older I know has let the “traditions” of Christmas go. Life is strange and a circle we all go through. Reflections of our past.
Happy New Year, Michele