It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

The impending combination of lunar eclipse, full moon, winter solstice, and winter break is wreaking havoc on my house.  Faced with the first day of no school, Mark unravelled a little bit.  I have noticed this phenomenon before, and so I know it is short lived, which is fortunate, because otherwise I would need to lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle of wine and a Candace Bushnell novel.  It’s not like it is some go-with-the-flow free-for-all around here.  The boys still get dressed in the morning and we maintain some semblance of a routine, even on holidays, but even so Mark has a tendency to unravel in the face of freedom from school routines.  So far he has drawn upwards of twenty pictures today, coloured in his Bakugan sticker book, and reorganized his collection of dinosaurs and Bakugan balls.  All that in between snapping at his brother who, in the face of freedom from school routines, copes by hugging, pulling at, and generally invading Mark’s personal space.  Hence my longing for chick lit and wine.  As I said, though, if history is any indication, by tomorrow things will be running much more smoothly around here.
It probably doesn’t help that my kids are also completely jacked up on sugar, thanks to the generosity of my beautiful friends who are responsible for my kitchen full of delicious treats including chocolates, homemade truffles and candies, and miniature cakes in the shapes of gifts, complete with fondant bows and decorations.  Not to mention many bottles of wine, which just goes to show how well they know me.  Did I mention I love my friends?  I love my friends.  I’m so blessed.
When we talk to the kids about Christmas we try to focus on time with friends and family, good food, joy, and love, but inevitably things come down to gifts.  I think gifts are a lovely part of Christmas – I still recall the feeling of seeing the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was five – but I do find it curious that if you are attempting to shift the focus away from getting, the first thing people ask your children is what they asked Santa Claus for.  Everywhere we are inundated with messages of consumerism, and commercialism, and your-Christmas-will-be-ruined-if-you-get-the-wrong-gift, and I find it fairly vile.  It reminds me of commercials for engagement rings, of the “show her how much you love her” variety.  When it became apparent that my husband and I would be married, I spoke out against diamond rings as a tool for commercialism, artificially inflated values, and ostentatious displays of wealth.  Tool of the patriarchy and a strike against feminism!  And so I don’t have a diamond ring, smart girl that I am.
It’s a hard balance.  I think my children have so much that they couldn’t possibly want or need anything else, I think sometimes they are completely spoiled and indulged, and yet we do buy our children toys and books at Christmas, and they do get many things from their doting grandparents and aunts and uncles, and if you think for one second that I’m going to call up my mother-in-law and tell her not to send her only two grandchildren any more gifts because they already have more than enough, well, then you have another think coming.  The only result of that kind of conversation would be of the “No One Here Gets Out Alive” variety.  And so I try to suggest gift ideas that will allow for much creative play, and that will last a long time, and that will not break instantly so that they can eventually be donated when outgrown.  I want my kids to enjoy their gifts, but more than anything I want for them to remember the holidays as a time of tree decorating and gingerbread disasters, and playing in the snow and parties with friends.  I want them to appreciate what they have and remember those who want for things, and yet still enjoy the pleasures of childhood.  Is that too large of a Christmas wish?


  1. I know, I SO know. I’m so happy my kids are into reading this year so I can buy them chapter books. The battle against cheap plastic crap and soul-deadening gadgets rages on…

  2. I agree! We have always disliked mass produced plastic things that last a season. Almost all of the toys our daughter has are made of wood. The plastic world we live in is bothersome. Kids can’t get a good feel for real
    Life textures that way.

    This year we’ve chosen more wooden items and some classic stories and a pair of skates…oh and an iPod…no ones perfect right? Lol

  3. I agree. Christmas presents really overshadow the feelings and true meaning behind Christmas.
    We usually don’t buy each other gifts but get a big gift…like a toilet.

  4. My husband refuses to buy gifts so that cuts down on any from that front. I bought the kids’ gifts this year and thought I did alright until I spent over 2 hours wrapping them last night. I may have gone overboard even if I tried not too. Still, we did the decorating the tree, the carols, the gingerbread house decorations, and attended church. I think they’re getting some other not consumer-y bits in this holiday.

  5. Your Christmas wish is not too large! I think that the gifts are a factor in the happy childhood experience for the kids, but all the other activities do matter so much more.

    By the time your kids leave your house, they will have had 18 Christmases with you showing them what is important. It’s hard to fight the rampant, plastic consumerism in our society, but I think the kids are listening to the message that parents give. Over time, our values will seep in.

    My kids are performing in our church’s Christmas program this year (one daughter is Mary, the other is an angel — SO far from the truth! Kidding… a little). I’ve been using practicing as a way to reinforce the real message of Christmas.

    Merry Christmas, Nicole, to you and your charming family!

  6. I know what you mean, and I completely agree. Unfortunately, it’s so hard to get children to get past the excessive nature of our society. But gingerbread disasters may be a good start 🙂 I hadn’t thought of that one.

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