Every year at about this time I begin to wonder: am I doing too much or too little to make my kids’ holidays special? This year, that question is even more difficult for me to answer.
In our family, we happen to celebrate Christmas, and in keeping with the kind of Christmases I enjoyed growing up, we celebrate them in a BIG way. My parents worked very hard to make sure that Christmas – the whole season – was always truly magical for my siblings and me, and I knew before I even had kids that I wanted to create the same experience for my own offspring.
CHRISTMAS 2005 – ME WITH J, E & HENRY
So that’s what I’ve worked to do. My kids really don’t get very many “toys” at other times throughout the year. In fact, they would tell you that I am pretty hardcore about never buying them anything discretionary and/or over about $25 at any time of the year except Christmas and birthdays. They grumble about this (“But Kelsie’s mom ALWAYS buys her things like new iPods and leather jackets and Ugg boots….ALL YEAR LONG!”), but I think they would ultimately agree that it makes Christmas that much more exciting when they rush in to see what’s under the tree on THE morning.
This Christmas is obviously going to be extremely bittersweet for all of us, as it will be the first holiday season that our family has celebrated since my oldest child, Henry, died in May. It’s important to me to find a way to recognize and honor our horrible loss while still making sure that the other kids get the super special Christmas I want them to have. Although I think I always overspend at Christmastime to some degree, I know I will be extra-prone to trying to somehow make up for what they’ve lost, and to distract them from the hurt of celebrating Christmas for the first time without their big brother, by showering them with even more booty than ever before.
But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want them to think that **I** think in any way that stuff can replace people, particularly someone as important to them as their brother, my child. It will be a tough thing to figure out – trying to make sure that their Christmas is as magical and exciting as I want it to be – as they need it to be – without going overboard.
I haven’t yet started shopping, which is very unusual for me. As disorganized as I often am in other areas of my life, I am usually extremely organized with my Christmas shopping, and I am usually nearly done by now. But money has been tight this year after everything we’ve experienced, plus I think I am just kind of dreading a task I usually love. The idea of shopping for everyone but Henry just sounds painful beyond words. Of course, I will donate to other children in Henry’s name, this year and every year, but that’s just not the same as secretly buying and stashing away the perfect gift that you know your own child will gleefully open on Christmas morning, yelling “YES!” and then giving you a big hug. It’s just not. Maybe it’s wrong of me to feel that way, but I do.
Yep, Christmas will be tough this year, no doubt. Tough to figure out. Tough to get through. But that’s just it, there’s no way through, but through.
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