That’s my trying-too-hard-to-be-cool Christmas greeting. I didn’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year, so this is it. There are several people that live far away whom I keep in touch with only at Christmas, but this year the only card I sent was to my sister’s German exchange student from last year. Unfortunately, I only mailed it on Thursday so even that was rather pointless. But I do sincerely wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a spectacular Boxing Day.
We’ve had a fun couple of days over here. On Christmas Eve morning, I took the kids to Birds Hill for a sleigh ride. It was perfect sleigh ride weather and a good time was had by all. We spent the afternoon cleaning the house, which is a crucial part of Christmas Eve. The house MUST be clean in order to properly celebrate Christmas; otherwise I am testy and distracted. After an early sushi dinner, we went to the candlelight service. It was lovely as always, but not entirely serene: Neve enjoyed placing her chattering Zhu Zhu pet on the balcony railing; it was a Christmas miracle that it never fell on the people below, and not one five-minute period went by without Spencer asking the time.
But it was all worth it just to drag out the anticipation of opening gifts. The kids each open one gift from us on Christmas Eve and then Santa fills the stockings for them to open on Christmas morning. I made a determined effort to downscale the kids’ gifts this year, partly because we are going to Florida this spring, partly because we don’t need more stuff in this house, and partly because we bought a Wii as a family gift. Spencer was thrilled with his Lego, but the girls weren’t exactly jumping up and down about their gifts. Fortunately the Wii was as big a hit as I thought it would be for the older two, but Neve somehow got lost in the shuffle. Her face did not light up when she opened her $12 Polly Pocket set (“She doesn’t know the value of gifts – she’ll be happy with anything,” I mistakenly thought.) She did end up having fun with it, and when I put her to bed, she was filled with anticipation for Christmas morning. While helping Santa with the stockings later that night, I had a sinking feeling when I saw her meagre gifts: two books, a lacing craft, socks, underwear, bandaids, candy, and a small My Little Pony set. It seems I did a stellar job of resisting the temptation to over-buy. Seriously, it was one orange away from a Little House on the Prairie Christmas stocking. If there had been a store open – any store – I would have been there in a flash.
Sure enough, Christmas morning was disappointing for her. She didn’t complain at all and she had a smile on her face, but it never reached her eyes. Dale and I felt like throwing up. We tried to cheer each other up by saying things like, “She’ll learn Christmas isn’t about the presents” and “Look how much she loves that lacing craft that I bought on sale for $2.79.” But then the knife in our hearts twisted 180 degrees… suddenly I noticed her sitting at the table, playing with her new socks. She had one on her hand like a puppet, and it was talking and biting the other socks. I don’t know if that was resourceful and creative of her, or pitifully sad. So in theory, keeping it small and simple is awesome, but it reality it sucks. You can comment and tell me how splendid it is that she's being creative with sock-play rather than some mind-numbing, mass-produced toy, but it won't make me feel any better.
I’ve gone on way longer than I intended to; I’ll just say it’s been a wonderful Christmas so far. We’re all having lots of fun with the Wii (except Neve). Dale gave me Dance Dance Revolution, so I have been spending every spare minute trying to transform myself into a white Mennonite with rhythm. Well, I’m already a white Mennonite; it’s the rhythm that is elusive. We had a great day with Dale’s family today, especially since his sister and her family are here this year, and tomorrow we’ll be with my family.
Enjoy the holidays; here’s hoping your joys are many and your disappointments are few!