Do You Dread Christmas?

Please don't get me wrong, I LOVE to celebrate the birth of Christ and truly enjoy the religious aspect of the holiday. However, the rest of it is just goes against my values to much for me to truly enjoy.

Let me explain.

Mr. NtJS and I had set a limit of three gifts per child and one stocking for Christmas. The gifts do not have to be large either. We work hard to make sure that the items under our tree are of good quality (made in the USA and environmentally friendly when possible). We also de-emphasize Santa Claus (or Saint Nicholas as we call him) but instead focus on each week of Advent and the story behind Christ's birth. We would prefer to sleep in on Christmas morning (going to Mass the night before) and then spend the day in our PJ's having fun with the girls. Enjoy a nicely cooked meal at whatever time we get to it and munch on cookies all day.

What REALLY happens at our house? We spend from early October through Christmas Eve trying to convince our family that our children do NOT need tons and tons of plastic crap made in China. They do not need 5 new expensive dressy outfits each. Then we have the joy of spending out Christmas away from home. We grew up in neighboring towns so we have to go to everyone's Christmas gathering. Dragging food, gifts, and kids all over creation for two to three days. Then we have to rush home before it's time for the Mr. to get back to work. We are all tired, the house is trashed, the tree we didn't get to enjoy has to come down, I have to box up a ton of the girl's toys and clothes to make room for the new ones since their room is stuffed full from their birthdays and the previous Christmas's stuff. I'll spend the next couple months giving away the toys and the brand new stuff I don't feel we should have in our house.

Where is the joy? Where is the fun? Why do I have to compromise my values for the holidays?

I'm I just a stick in the mud? I'm I the only one who dread's Christmas because of these issues?
What do you do to avoid these negative Christmas feelings?


debtfree2009 said...

Growing up we would get up Christmas morning open presents and immediately leave to go out of town. When my children were born I said no way am I going to make them do the same thing. My parents started making the rounds then and stop at my house for breakfast. Drive half hour to my sister's for lunch and then go visit my father's family. This way all the children are at home for the day. My children are older now and we still do the same thing. We have a family get together on my side two weeks before Christmas and with my husband's family a week before Christmas.

Ms. May said...

I honestly agree with you. I love the spirit of the season (or, perhaps more accurately, what the spirit of the season should be, in my mind). I love the tradition, the lights, the coziness, the legends, the cooking... I even love being around the family (as nutso as they can be sometimes). But every year, even after years of organization and working at corralling all the little tasks that I thought bothered me, I have come to a single realization: it is not the sending out of Christmas cards on time, or the sometimes overwhelming decorating, or even the crazy whirlwind of relatives that exhausts me this time of year. It is none of these things, for Christmas just would not be Christmas without them. No, the thing that deflates me and leaves me contemplating boycotting the season is the unabashed consumerist frenzy that whips our society into a nasty froth beginning the day after Halloween and leaves us spent, broke, and depressed come the day after Christmas. This year I am going to try something, and it may or may not work. I am calling a moratorium on gifts. I will not accept or give a gift that is not edible. I will do everything else: look at lights in the neighborhood, decorate my house, bake, snuggle, cook with my family and friends, laugh and sing. But I am not buying or receiving presents. This year's gift will be the gift of my sanity, of my smile, and it will be genuine because I won't be contributing to this disease that has absolutely taken over our country at this time of year. If I had kids, I know this decision would not necessarily be mine to make. Half of my family is very materialistic (Grandma hurries us through dinner every year because she cannot wait to open gifts... on Christmas Eve.) The other half is not at all, and I think will be very relieved at my plan. One of the reasons I've some to this decision is that I realized I was starting to equate the amount of love I was giving to my nephews with the dollar amount on the price tags on their gifts. Which made me realize that I was only reinforcing that idea in them. I know that others must not realize that they are actually stomping on all over your parenting efforts when they overwhelm your family with stuff. Perhaps your family equates love with dollars, too. Is there any way your family might contribute the amount they spend on your kids to a savings account and give a small symbolic gift, instead -- one that would be more in line with your holiday standards? I don't know how I will enforce my philosophies once I have children. I'm rooting for you -- Fight the good fight!

Mr. ToughMoneyLove said...

When our kids were young, we had a rule that we would not leave home on Christmas Day. Any family that wanted to see us had to visit our home. Try it. Second, for those family members who insist on sending gifts to your children, send them a list and ask them to select one thing. If they send anything else, return it and give the money to charity. Or,start a college fund on SmartyPig and ask family to contribute to it in lieu of sending a toy or dress.

Mrs. (not) the Jet Set said...

Thanks for the support and suggestions! We have tried all of them to with no success. :(

First we asked for only three gifts per child at most. This ended up being three large boxes each. It's amazing how much clothing and "stuff" you can fit into a very large box.

We also tried to limit it to things we had on a list and that one did not work either.

Next we asked that if they wanted to spend a lot of money to only buy a few small things and put the rest in the girl's college accounts. We could help them do that and the girls would LOVE that money in a few years. Heck, I'd even be okay with them putting it in a car fund for them so that in 11 years they can buy their own car with that money.

We used to return most items and then when people realized that we would do that and spend the money on "practical" items that we NEEDED they started taking the toys out of the boxes and taking tags off, etc.

For the adults on my side we adopt a family for Christmas every year and go shopping for them together instead of buying us adults gifts. Mr. NtJS and I suggested we do that with his parents and sibling (and his spouse) or just give the money to our favorite charities. You would have thought that we had said something disgusting with lots of curse words added in! I have never heard so many excuses as to why it would be a bad idea to give money to a charity or to a family in need. It was beyond sicking. So every year I buy them things like Dave Ramsey's books, The Better World Shopping Guide, and other items along those lines but only one or two little things. And we only give their kids a little gift each since they have everything under the sun at home.

Anonymous said...

Yes, absolutely, I hate Christmas. I always say December 26th is the best day of the year, because it's the farthest day away from the next Christmas.

One of these years we're calling it quits. I just haven't found the guts to disappoint my mom yet.

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