I don’t love Christmas. I don’t hate it…but I don’t love it. It’s always filled with manic behavior related to budget and spending and expectations that all stem back to the Christmases from my childhood.
You see? I was a shitty little kid and found myself often disappointed by my Christmases. No one ever knew that, of course, I wasn’t that shitty, but I have distinct memories of being disappointed when the Cabbage Patch doll I asked for was generic and when the Opus sweatshirt I put on my list never appeared at all. Or when the Coke Rugby shirt I wanted was just a plain rugby shirt with no COKE logo.
Disappointment is such a benign word but I felt it DEEPLY. I very vividly recall being done opening presents all of those Christmas mornings and feeling UPSET. Because I was SHITTY, evidently.
So…all of that shed a very real light on kid’s an expectations and while part of me is like, “The kids need to understand that they won’t always get what they want. It’s an important reality.” The other part of me really wants to avoid them feeling the same disappointment that I felt which creates these very strange reactions and responses in my brain around Christmas time that often result in making me the Biggest Buzzkill Of All Of The Buzzkills.
First, I try to make the kids have a very real understanding of budgets so they don’t expect anything outrageous. If you curb the expectations early the disappointment won’t be extreme because you can actually get the things on their list. Even when they believed in Santa I said, “Santa knows our budget. He’s not going to get you anything outside of our budget because that’s the deal we have with him.”
But I CONSTANTLY talk about the budget as they build the list so I’m pretty sure I’m removing ALL MAGIC from the holiday. I’m like, “Look. You have 3 things over $50 on that list. If we got you all of those that’s basically all you would get.” Or if they put something over $200 I remind them: “If you put that on your list, don’t bother putting anything else.” I mean, JEEZUS, Kim. Can you be anymore of a buzzkill?
And then I am constantly reminding them how lucky they are. I tell them the stories of Eliah’s dollar store Christmases. “You’ve never had to have a dollar store Christmas, you should be grateful for everything.” We support programs for kids in need all while talking about how lucky they are. I don’t do it just for generosity, I do it for lesson teaching so my kids are GRATEFUL because I was a total bitch and NOT AT ALL GRATEFUL and I want my kids to be less terrible than I was.
But it’s the worst on Christmas Day itself. My kids plow through presents like every kid does but then I totally overanalyze their speed and read all sorts of messages of disappointment in it and I get upset and end up laying some sort of guilt trip on them EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
I AM THE WORST.
So this year I’m going to try to be better. They still always know about the budget, but I’m going to try to leave it at that. We’ll do the Angel Tree but I won’t beat them with reminders about how lucky they are not to be on that tree. And then on Christmas morning I’m going to try to let go of my baggage for ONCE and just let them enjoy Christmas without all of my, “Are you disappointed? Do you wish you had more? Did you want something different? WHY ARE YOU SO SPOILED AND ENTITLED?” manic rants that ruin it for everyone.
I’m going to TRY.