The holidays used to be rush, rush, rush for me. It wasn’t unusual to find me shopping during the last few days before Christmas for last minute gifts. While I wasn’t a devoted enough planner to shop on Black Friday or a good enough procrastinator to wait until Christmas Eve, I was still great at getting a lot of shopping completed. Since my daughter came into my life I came to view the holidays completely different.
She was born 3 days after Christmas, and I have to tell you that the Christmas she was born was the best ever that we celebrated. We didn’t do any of the traditional stuff. We didn’t go visit family or plan a big meal as I was hesitant to travel an hour away from our hospital just days before our due date. And so, the Christmas day was spent with my lovely husband, and only him. Presents were opened leisurely and dinner was served when we were hungry. Phone calls were made and well wishes were given. I don’t recall exactly now, but we probably napped or played video games. One thing I do remember is taking photos of my pregnant belly and being full of bliss.
That day put it all into perspective. The season leading up to the holidays aren’t for procrastinating or shopping for the perfect gift. And while family will always be dear to me, having to rush to three different households in one day is just no fun. Regardless of religion, the holidays are about quality time with loved ones. Not this rushing about stuff that we’ve all come so accustomed to.
The next 8 years have only reinforced my opinion. Thanks to my daughter’s birth I became unwilling to travel to each and every in-law and distant relative’s home between Christmas Eve and Christmas day. It was too much stress for the three of us. Sleep schedules would get out of whack as well as my own sanity. We learned to spread out the well-wishing of the holidays over the month. The Kid’s birthday would have a small celebration on the day of, between the three of us, and a bigger party after the first of the year.
The month leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve has become a slow-down time for us. I focus more on her needs as well as making memories for her. She and I make crafts together to celebrate winter and the holidays. We cook, watch old holiday specials, look at holiday decorations, and school less. We also spend long dinners talking to friends and family, but not out of obligation – because we want to. I’ve limited my budget as well as the number of people I buy for. Fortunately the people near and dear to me seem to enjoy the things I make for them. They understand our point of view of the holidays, in part because I refused to try to keep up with the status quo. Making a month–long holiday makes for a lot less stress and for a lot more appreciation.
For now I’ll be holding my baby girl’s hand, looking at the marvels of the season, and enjoying our time together instead of rushing around trying to buy the best presents for all those that I love. And later on when those long, cold, pensive days come knocking on all of our doors we’ll be wishing for the sparkle that the holiday season brings to winter, and recalling them with our own little twinkle in our hearts.
Jennifer can also be found blarging at Unearthing this Life.