A post on my cousin’s blog today got me to thinking. She was – – rightfully – – lamenting the materialism of the holiday season. You know…that sickness that starts going around a month or two before Christmas…”the gimmes.”
Thankfully, I was blessed with two boys who have never had severe cases of the illness. Occasionally I’ve even had to BEG my eldest to tell me something he might want for Christmas because he would just say “Mom, I really don’t need anything. I’ve got everything I want already.”
This year was a case in point. I would give him suggestions, and he would shoot them down. I’d lay out catalogs, hoping to inspire him, and he would never even pick them up. I even tried to get clues from conversation, but he never let on to much of anything that he was wishing for. Finally, after enough pestering, he just told me to surprise him.
I went through the holiday prep a little more down in the dumps than usual, because it had occurred to me that maybe his lack of interest in gifts meant that he had “aged out” of the Christmas spirit. I dutifully picked out things I thought he might enjoy, but it wasn’t quite the same. It felt like my baby boy was altogether too big for his britches (and it was only last week that he was wearing Christmas onesies for cryin’ out loud!).
So imagine my surprise when he woke up one morning a few days before Christmas and practically bounded out of bed. “I am SO excited!” he declared.
“About what?” I asked, confused.
“Christmas, of course!”
“But you don’t even know what you are getting?”
“I know! I’m going to be surprised!! And it is going to be so awesome to get to do our Christmas breakfast, and open presents, and spend the day together as a family.”
Wow. Here I had been bemoaning his lack of Christmas spirit, and he might have been the one with the truest spirit of all. It wasn’t what he got that mattered to him – – it was how he got it. The traditions that surround the getting.
Sometimes, it’s the seeing the pretty wrapped presents under the tree, and handing them out, and tearing into the crisp paper, and squealing with glee and sharing that moment with our loved ones that brings us more joy than what is actually inside the package.
We humans crave tradition, and the holiday season provides a boatload of opportunities to fulfill those urges. For our family, that includes watching “The Christmas Story” as we trim the tree, volunteering on Christmas Eve at the homeless shelter where my hubby works, having gingerbread waffles for Christmas breakfast, and buying an ornament for each of the boys the day after Christmas that celebrates what they have been interested in during the previous year. These are our touchstones. And they are way more important to us than any new gadget, gizmo, or bejeweled trinket could ever be. (And if you know me, that is saying a LOT)
Hope your traditions brought you as much joy this holiday season as they did us. Feel like sharing one of your favorites in the comment section??