Christmas as a Grown-up

23 12 2006

I have technically been an adult for several years now, but only now do I feel the true weight of adulthood. That’s probably because parenthood has made me look at old things in new ways.  Take Christmas shopping for instance…

Today, we had to run a few errands, but eventually found our way to Target to do a little last minute shopping.  I guess this was everyone else’s idea as well because I’ve never seen the Target near our house full of so many people.  In the days leading up to today, and into the next couple of hours until Christmas morning, I have been prepping Eliana with as much Christmas cheer as I know how.  I have taken her to see Santa Claus numerous times, and we have seen Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (and will see it again on DVD tomorrow night).  I have coached her to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas (a Kitty Kat, and a Princess Bike). She will say Merry Christmas to everyone if you remind her.  She is such a happy girl, and this is the time of year that can bring out the best joy.  But, as I realized a long time ago, with the holidays, also comes a lot of stress.  It is my belief that too many people depend on Christmas time and the expensive holiday gifts to make up for lost time, or for something else missing in people’s lives.

When I ventured into Target, I had only a few toys at the ready for Eliana and nothing for Annabelle (she’s not even a year old yet).  We browsed for a single gift for Uncle Joe, and we noticed some neat items.  One was a stand-alone Dance-dance Revolution game that played directly to your TV.  My wife and I thought this would be a great thing for the kids to have as it would let them exercise and be entertained.  But, we quickly realized this was for slightly older kids.  But, I realized that we quickly had gotten ourselves sucked up in the materialized free-for-all that Christmas time can become.  And, I have to admit, I gave in a little. I realized that even though there was no one to watch our kids at home so we can shop for them with a little more ease, I let Eliana’s mother take her to the grocery side of the store, while I hand carried her younger sister with me to make some last minute pickups. I grabbed: a Helly Kitty watch, a Hello Kitty puzzle, a small Etch-a-schetch, and a Dora book for her Leap Pad. I don’t think I went overboard, but I got Eliana a few things that we inexpensive, while exactly what she wanted.  (When she said Kitty Kat to Santa, she meant a Hello Kitty doll, which she will also receive).

While I tried to give my children enough presents to open on Christmas, I realized that the time we are able to spend together now is the most important gift of all.  I look back on my childhood Christmas’ with much fondness, but the Christmas I remember most was the one where we stayed at my Grandmother’s house in Eloy, AZ. It was me, my mom, and two brothers. My dad was in California taking care of things so that we could move back to Arizona and all be together again.  The tree was small, hardly 4 feet.  It resembled the tree on the Charlie Brown Christmas. I must have been 9 or 10. I remember that we each received three gifts each. We all got the one toy we wanted, and two more. Back then, that was all my mother could afford for us.  I’m sure my grandmother helped also because even that many toys for three boys was a lot of money then. But, that ws the most memorable Christmas because it was special. Our family had gone through a lot up to that point, and that day was the one day we were allowed to relax.

Nowadays, I make enough income to afford anything Eliana and Annabelle want. In time, we may probably be able to even buy her a car.  We have come far from those simple days, but those are the days and memories I want to pass on to my children. The memories and moments won’t be wrapped with the Hello Kitty puzzle, or  roll in on the Princess Bike.  They will come from us being together for each other. And it won’t be just for the Holidays, because we will be there for every day they are in our lives. Sometimes the daily burden of rearing a child weighs heavily on us because of all the other things we Grown-ups have to deal with. But, this time of year will always remind me that there is more to life, our families and our existence than the gifts we give on Christmas Morning.

I’m still looking forward to the smiles that will be on both our children’s faces in a couple days.  But I’m also looking forward to the experiences that will make us a family.

Merry Christmas!

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