That’s A Wrap

Blue and Silver Ribbon

I got all my wrapping done today. Yay! That means I’ll have over a week of seeing my tree nice and full with presents underneath. The only thing left is whatever Hubby needs to do. It feels really good to be done, but…

I’ve been in kind of a funk lately. It’s funny. I thought last year would be the hard holiday being the first after OC took off and the first time I’ve ever gone without seeing my family, but it was actually easy and light and fun. For some reason, this year my head is kind of all knotted up. I’d thought it was mainly because I was feeling crummy still, but I now wonder how much of my crummy feeling is actual sick and how much is just the blahs.

When all the kids were still little and we were dealing with giving ideas to my parents, hubby’s parents, my siblings, and Hubby’s sister, the holidays and gift giving became something I started to hate. I loved getting together and the atmosphere of a beautifully decorated house and all the little stuff, but I got to HATE gifts.

First, we just gave out a list of things the kids wanted and let people get what they wanted. But after getting 3 of the exact same thing for several birthdays or Christmas’, we had to give out a short list of specific wishes for the kids for each person and not giving the same idea to more than one. For Hubby’s family, who are seriously too generous, it was about trying to keep them under control, but the ideas seemed to never be enough. I love my in-laws. They are so giving and I felt hugely ungrateful for being frustrated with them over their generosity, but I didn’t want my kids to grow up rotten. That and there are just some things a parent wants to give to their kids. The big, golly-gee-wizz gift shouldn’t be coming from the grandparents.

For my family… ugh… my mother got so annoying. She wanted the gifts to be a surprise. Not just for the kid, but for us, which is stupid. I don’t need my kid’s presents to be a surprise to me. For her, just getting a list of a couple of things didn’t work for her because she wanted a choice, yet was upset if I didn’t have ideas to give her. What she never got is that I had to give ideas to like 5 other people as well and if person B didn’t get one of the gifts that I’d given to them, it is something I could have given as an idea to person C. To make things worse, MC’s birthday is straight on the heels of Christmas so I had to work out gifts for that on top of it and he is the LEAST selfish and materialistic kid I’ve ever known. He’d give us a list of like 8 things and I had to spread that among nearly that many people for both Christmas and birthday. She also hated to give money or gift cards even if that is what the kids asked for. She wanted a general idea so she could go shop for something that fit that idea and do so within a certain parameter. It became more about what she wanted to do than what the kids wanted.

The whole thing always ended up making me so frustrated and angry. Neither Hubby nor I ever really had extended family celebrations when we were kids. We did little things on both sides of my family growing up, but it wasn’t 3 full on, hard core events with gobs of gifts and Hubby’s family lived too far apart to ever get together, so it was incredibly hard to try and find some sort of a working balance for everyone involved. The worst part for me was that it was all about the stuff.

For a while my parents were a little more than comfortable financially and my mother went over the top with the gift giving. Then, things changed and money got tight so I then had to start making sure that the ideas I gave wouldn’t be too expensive to be a burden. It was always not great for my brothers and I tried very hard to be conscious of that, even told them to not do gifts, but they wouldn’t. And what the hell do you do when they demand ideas, insist on getting gifts (and usually more than one) and then complain about money? I got to the point where I hated the whole thing because it became about something really ugly.

After my MIL passed away, we started buying all of the gifts my FIL gives, both to the kids and us, so that he doesn’t have to deal with it. Last night, when we were sorting through everything so Hubby could take the stuff to his dad that we’d gotten, I got stupidly frustrated because it felt like by the time I’d passed along his gifts, there wasn’t much of anything at all left. That stewed around in my head all night and most of the day today. I felt like I was failing to give my kids something or that there wasn’t enough to go under the tree, especially since I started putting all of their wrapped gifts into a huge box and wrapping that so there was only one for each.

While getting everything put together today and having all that mess floating around in my head it dawned on me that I’m still fighting some of those earlier influences and expectations. My kids don’t ask for much and some of what they ask for is stuff they need as much as what they want or they are little nothing things, like BG wanting sticky notes. Somewhere along the line, my brain was still trying to tell me that it wasn’t enough stuff or it wasn’t a big enough wow gift. There isn’t a ton there that is what I’d consider fun or fall into they “toy” category, but a huge part of that is because they are 13 and 15 and they are just at that age where those kinds of things are changing.

I hated that the holidays became about the stuff and appearances, yet here I was still trying like hell to do the same things even though that isn’t what I want. It isn’t what my kids want. It is apparently still so deeply ingrained about the “stuff” and the “show” that it was messing with my head and creating these expectations.

I do think that part of my funk is that this year feels even more different than last, not so much because of the lack of people, but because MC and BG are so much different than last year. I’m seeing some hard proof of them growing up and the potential changes that are yet to come as they get closer and closer to also not being here.  I’m not ready for them to be too old for toys or the excitement so I think my brain is trying to hold onto the way things were when they were still small even if that time wasn’t great.

I think I get where my head is at and, hopefully, now that I’ve thought it all through that funk will start to lift a little. It isn’t so much that I’m being a grump or in a bad mood, just… maybe missing some of the brightness.

Seeing my tree with packages underneath has definitely brought a smile to my face. I love pretty packages with all the colorful paper, ribbons and bows. I don’t even really care what is inside them. I just like to look at them. So, that definitely helps.

 

Author: TJ Fox

Slightly sane artist, book addict, wife and mother of 3 who is forever rethinking her place in this world.

2 thoughts on “That’s A Wrap”

  1. The politics of gift giving at Christmas can taint the season some what. You’re not alone. We are having issues on both sides of the family over this subject too.
    I’m sorry that you are feeling in a funk and I hope that the closer to Christmas we get, this will pass. Just keep looking at your lovely tree, I know that cheers me up too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did feel better after I worked out some of the mess in my head yesterday.

      My best advice for the gift situation? Put your foot down and draw some lines. I wish I had pushed a long time ago instead of just letting things go. It is a huge relief to not really have to deal with it all anymore. All I have left is to try and temper my FIL’s generosity. He has to understand that he just cannot always have a ton of stuff to give. It isn’t about what he can afford. It is about what my kids actually want and need. Even then, it should never be about gifts.

      Liked by 1 person

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