Today, on the Eve of Christmas – the huge, over-commercialized holiday – we are asked in the Kickin’ it Old Skool Blog-a-Thon to tell of any holiday disasters.
I’m having a hard time with this one. I often feel melancholy at Christmas and frankly feel that I could do without this holiday altogether. Only that there’s all this pressure.
Aside from the fact that you can’t escape from Christmas in the United States – even if you don’t celebrate, you are still affected by it. Aside from all the obligatory holiday parties. Aside from certain family members treating you like a bad person if you don’t really see the point of all the pomp. Aside from the fact that whatever the original message of the holiday season was, it’s now lost in the materialistic gimme-gimme-gimme attitude in this country.
Aside from all that, I still want to make Christmas this special thing for my son. He’s excited to sickness about the holiday, and I want to give him everything. I want him to experience all of us sitting in our PJ’s and madly opening presents. That’s how it was for me when I was his age.
It should be that way.
But inevitably, we either have to travel for Christmas, meaning smaller, fewer presents. Or, if we stay home, we have to share the holiday with the world’s slowest, most unhappy, person, who is rather insistent that the boy be patient and we each take turns opening presents and oohing and aahing.
I don’t fundamentally have an objection to this myself. However, this doesn’t go over well with an autistic boy with ADHD. But the other person’s demands must be met, otherwise, Christmas is ‘ruined.’
The end result is that by the end of the day, I have a knot of anxiety in my belly and often severe heartburn because of it. I am ridden with guilt.
I want a Christmas with the three of us, when the boy can get up at 5am and dig into his stocking. Then at 7am, he can bang on the door and demand that his father and I get up.
Then there will be an explosion of wrapping paper (which the cats love), and then an afternoon of watching football.
Is this unreasonable? Am I being selfish?
OK, so that’s been the last eight Christmases.
But let’s talk of disasters.
Nine Christmases – the boy’s first Christmas – was a bit of a disaster, though not because of something that happened to go wrong. It’s all about timing.
We moved into our current house on December 19th of 2004. The boy was about 5 months old.
When Christmas rolled around, we celebrated by sitting in the living room surrounded by boxes, knowing that we had gotten everything out of the truck and into the house. Honestly, we didn’t really celebrate. We noticed that everything was closed and kind of realized that it was Christmas. We’d missed the whole thing.
There was no tree. No decorations. No presents. Just us in a big new (chilly) house at the beginning of a new adventure.
It wasn’t until the next day when my brother and sister-in-law started posting photos of my niece’s first Christmas. She was born two weeks before my son.
Then I realized what had happened. We’d missed his first Christmas. This big milestone. We’d never have a photo of him as an infant staring wide-eyed at the Christmas tree. None of that.
It made me sad. It still does.
I am sorry that Christmas is not the best holiday for you. I agree that it has gotten way too commercial. Shopping on Thanksgiving for Pete’s sake! Hoping that this year will turn out differently. Don’t feel too guilty about the first Christmas. I did not do really outlandish things for my kid’s first birthdays! In fact, I didn’t even throw them a big party because I thought they would be too young to understand!
I do hear what you’re saying. Last yea was the first year that my wife and I “took back” our Christmas and just stayed home. It was one of our more enjoyable Christmas celebrations. I like your description of what you want to do with your son. That is how I experienced Christmas growing up. Hope you find some peace this year.