Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Actually, Lucy, my trouble is Christmas" -Charlie Brown

This week was the start of Christmastime, apparently. All of the stores I visited were decorated accordingly and had all of their Christmas items out for sale. I walked along the aisles humming along to the Christmas music playing and I forgot that it's only the beginning of November. Last night when I got in to bed, I started thinking about how I'd wrap the Christmas gifts I made for everyone (I'll have a how to post on it after Christmas.. I don't want to spoil the surprise!) and that I hope everyone will like what we decided to make this year. Then I started to feel the guilt; that we are going to be very frugal this year and we are giving everyone the same thing.

Starting in elementary school, I got on this kick about watching home videos in the middle of the night. I came to an age where I realized that my parents were never going to be married again and it made me very depressed. All I understood was that they were not married anymore. I needed an explanation and I didn't have one. Now I understand that my parents never should have been married in the first place, but am grateful they were because I am alive! Hey, thanks mom and dad. Anyway.. the point is, I was thinking about those home videos and how we had presents stacked up taller than our little toddler selves and it seemed like we opened presents for ages. I don't remember living that life. I honestly don't have any memories that are my own from when my parents were married.. I only have memories from pictures and scratchy VHS tapes. What I remember my childhood being is with my single mom and my sister and I going to visit my dad in San Clemente.

Christmas growing up was always exciting, because what kid isn't excited for Christmas? My dad would have a small tree up in the living room of my grandpas house, we'd get presents (I don't remember what they were or how many) and then we'd celebrate Christmas with my mom. I do have a lot of memories going to get a tree with my mom and sister; it was always comical. Us three girls loading and unloading a tree that was always only about five feet tall because it was what my mom could afford and it was what we could (almost) manage carrying. The three of us carrying one tiny tree into our tiny apartment was always a hysterical adventure where someone was laughing so hard they'd almost pee their pants. Getting the tree in my moms insanely heavy tree stand was always an issue too. She'd get out the hack saw and I'd have to cut branches and the bottom a handful of times before we got it right.. even though it still seemed to be somewhat crooked once standing.

When Christmas morning came, the mood changed. My mom always apologized for only being able to get us two or three things and my sister and I would reassure her, telling her we didn't care and were happy with what we got (which is true). Once we were in high school, I think we both realized how hard my mom was struggling and we were able to sympathize with her. One year in particular, I can remember my mom crying about the lack of presents. I will never forget that year and never forgot how upset my mom was.. it makes me upset to remember it now. The fact that my mom cried because she was only able to gift us with a few small things is heart wrenching to me.

I am sad that Christmas makes people feel horrible about not being able to give grand gifts (myself included). It seems like it's turned into something other than honoring the birth of Jesus and enjoying time with family. Rory and I are not millionaires and though we love our families and want to give them everything they want, we are not able to do that. Even the twenty dollar gift certificates are not practical for us to do anymore. This year, we are choosing to gift simply with lots of love and unless we win the lottery, we will continue to do so every Christmas (even for our children).

I don't want to ever over give to Logan than feel guilty about it the years that I can't. I want her to see Christmas as the time that God gave his Son to us, as a time to be with family, as a time to be appreciative for what we do have because there are so many more people in the world with far less. Perhaps when she gets older, we will volunteer somewhere during the holidays or even make it this time of year that we purge toys and clothes to give to those in need.

My heart is broken for my mom who tried every year to give us the best Christmas. My heart is broken that she compared herself to her sisters or her friends and even my dad who were financially capable of giving their children much more than she could give hers. I see that I am doing it now.. that I am already apologizing to family (via this blog) for the very small gift that is coming their way this Christmas. I am very well aware that they will be grateful for whatever we give to them and they will not hold a grudge or think ill of us, but when they give us their gifts I feel as if I cannot accept them. This whole gift giving has just turned into a ball of guilt and I wish that we'd cut it out all together, but there is joy in giving to those you love no matter how small or large the gift is.

I know this Christmas will be full of love, laughter, and wonderful new memories despite not having deep pockets for gifts, but there is always guilt. I want to be able to feel what I already know is true in that gifts don't matter so that I can forget the guilt and enjoy the season.

And also, thank goodness for Pinterest this year for a really awesome idea! Some other really cool DIY gift ideas are: one two three four

What are your thoughts on budget gifts? Do you have any other DIY ideas for gift giving? I can't wait to share what I did with you soon.


1 comment :

  1. My dear Ali, you made me cry - not tears of sadness - but tears of pride. I suppose it is the heart of a mom that yearns to give her children all that the world has to offer. I've learned that "less is more" and that the gift of love and compassion is the best gift of all. With Christ as our example; I find the true meaning of the holidays is in our hearts, not our pocketbooks. I strive to live a simplistic life and cherish my family and friends. I am so blessed to have you as my daughter and I know that Logan is blessed to have you as her mother. I love you forever. Mom