Saturday, 29 December 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Christmas was lovely. Lovelier than I expected, actually. Christmas used to be an anxiety-inducing, dreary time of year for me. Grady has changed it for me. He is so full of light and joy; I can't help but get caught up in his energy. Someone please remind me of this time when he's a surly teenager.

December is a busy time for us. Shawn's brother and dad, as well as two of our close friends, have December birthdays (one being two days before Christmas and one being the day after Christmas.) Shawn's parents are divorced so we celebrate Christmas with them separately. My parents and his parents all live locally but far enough apart that the celebrations have to be on separate days or half the day would be spent driving.

Last year I was still crazy so I didn't feel comfortable putting my foot down but this year I was adamant that we have our own time to celebrate as a family. It was difficult. I was forced to be blunt (something I hate) and feelings were, not necessarily hurt, but definitely chafed, but in the end it worked out perfectly. From 4pm on Christmas Eve day until noon on Christmas Day, Shawn, Grady and I celebrated on our own. We had our annual Christmas Eve barbecue with all the fixings (and Grady tried his first hamburger! He was not impressed.) We opened presents (we gave Grady the Melissa & Doug band-in-a-box. Rookie parents, right here.) We relaxed and enjoyed each other. And then continued on with the family obligations / craziness / hoopla.

I love our families. I love that so many people love Grady. But I am so glad that Christmas is over. Grady was spoiled rotten (how do you deal with this? Seriously. He was lavished with gifts and I don't mean to sound ungrateful but this cannot happen next year when he's old enough to realize what's going on and develop expectations for future Christmases.) It was a lovely holiday but I'm ready for 2013. I'm ready to say goodbye to parties and cookies (so many cookies) and hello to January.

Best present ever.


  1. Eli got spoiled too and I have the same worries about next year. Peter and I (err, Santa) are planning to stick to the four-gift rule: "One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to read". I guess we have no control over the grandparents' craziness, but we can do our part to make Christmas a bit less of a gong show.

  2. We're having our first any day now, and watching my nieces and nephews this Christmas, I realized how tough it's going to be to avoid the spoilage. If you find any good techniques, share them! I want my child to be loved, not spoiled.

  3. Lovely, glad you made some time for your family on your own!

    I don't know if this would work super well at Christmas, but I have friends with kids who do this for their kids birthdays... they ask anyone who wants to give a gift to their children to give $5. They pool together whatever money is given, they let their child pick out one toy that they would like. Their kids are still young enough that they don't get how much things cost so if the total comes to less than the money given, they invest the rest in the kid's RESP. I really liked this idea if I ever have kids.

  4. I'd been wondering when would be the year Matt & I would spend a big holiday on our own (i.e. Xmas). Then I got sick and that basically made the decision for us.

    It's good you put your foot down. And it's sort of pretty awesome when it's just your own immediate family.

    For presents, can you possibly ask family if they could instead give you gift cards to buy stuff you really need for Grady? Or if you've set up some sort of fund for him to put some money in there? As you know I don't have kids, but I know what families can be like so on that I totally sympathize with you.

  5. We've always made Christmas Eve and Christmas morning our own, too.

    After a few years of the crazy outlaws loading our kids with crap, we set boundaries. Bigger quality gifts, instead of cheap crap.

    And now that the kids are older? Cash.

  6. My nephew's birthday is a month after Christmas, and his parents are reeaaally worried that he will start expecting gifts all the freaking time. He's the first grandbaby on our side, but we are allll trying really hard to keep it sane for his parents. While he's little, most money spent will be going towards his RESP.

  7. Oh how this post resonated with me, Hillary. I think one of the most beautiful things about having children is they give you a perfectly valid excuse to figure out what works best for your family and sticking to it. Before kids, we were always at the whim of my husband's brother, wife and their kids (because kids rule). Now that we have our own, our own interests come back into play ... and while it's sometimes hard to put your foot down, I don't think I've ever regretted doing it. So glad you chose to put your foot down, instead of in your mouth. =)

    And also, the excess at this time of year is RIDICULOUS. I was actually MAD by the end of the Christmas holiday. Too many gifts. Too bad BAD gifts. Too many UNNECESSARY gifts. A friend told me about a list she had heard about, which you can sort of adjust for your own family in whatever way you see fit. But, it's a list of four things that you ask for:
    I want (x)
    I need (x)
    I wear (x)
    I read (x)
    Seems like a simple way to get some appropriate and fun gifts without going overboard. I think I'm going to use it with my in-laws next year and warn that anything above and beyond that list will be donated (unless they clear it with us first). I am also going to ask family friends to share hand-written cards, family photos and homemade edibles in the hopes we can limit what comes into and stays in our house!!