Black Friday - and now Cyber Monday - officially commence the holiday season. There really is no denying it now. Christmas carols are playing on every other radio station, my neighbor's houses are adorned with red and green twinkling lights; inflatable santas and brightly-lit reindeers pose on the lawn.
I love this time of year. After finals, I am really able to embrace the holiday season and I bake, knit, and cook like a regular domestic goddess. But, I hate, hate, hate that the focus of the season is always on the gifts. What do you want? What did you buy? Are you done shopping? Those are the only questions anyone ever asks me and I'm charged with being a scrooge for refusing to partake in the frantic gift swap but - really - I've got enough stuff.
What I really want is time with my husband because we don't have a lot of "us time" between raising three children, law school, and working sixty hours a week. Time - that's it. I'm easy. No fighting with rabid shoppers at the local mall for the latest gadget. No pancaked face salesperson hawking generic, yellow diamonds from the chain jewelry store. I don't need one more set of dishtowels or witty book of quotes. I'm good on the orange sweatshirts, too. Thanks.
I just want to jump off the hamster wheel for a bit, head to the mountains, and relax. Maybe go skiing. Maybe sleep-in. Maybe just have sex all day. No plans and nowhere to be. No children screaming because that one took all the red legos from this one or arguments because that one is singing too loud, which is giving the other one a headache. Every year, I wish for more time and every year I get something useless that goes into a drawer and is only used when the gift giver is visiting. Maybe this year Santa will finally get it right.
Of course I'll buy stuff for the kids. They don't want more time. Time is meant to be filled with stuff because less stuff leads to: I'm bored. What can I do? Kids want constant stimulation and, of course, the latest gizmos. I think Lizzie wants an iPod. It's not happening for reasons I may discuss in another post. Olie wants Kit. I subtly tried to steer her towards Josefina, but Madhubby thinks I ought to just buy her the doll she wants. Could Kit be any more homogeneous but whatever.
Still, I want to instill in my children a different holiday ideal, a yardstick other than gifts they can use to measure holiday spirit. We're agnostic, so Christmas has never been about religion for us. But I do think it's about giving. We participate in the Salvation Army Giving Tree every year. This year, I think we'll also send a soldier a care package and maybe I can convince the kids to donate their allowances - with a matching contribution from us - to a charity of their choice. Friends of ours do this with their children and I think it's a great idea. It's just another way of celebrating the season that I hope my children will remember long after December 25th has come and gone.