December 8, 2011

Writer's Workshop: The Spirit of Christmas

It's Thursday again (where does the time go?!), which means it's time for Mama Kat's World Famous Writer's Workshop. I wasn't sure which prompt I wanted to choose, but #4 caught my eye:

Blast from the Past: What were you writing about last year at this time? Tell us what has changed (if anything) since then.

As I started reading through my posts from last December, I came across this one. I know it's going to sound lame (and I am excessively weepy), but I got a few tears in my eyes as I read it.  

18 December 2010 

Santa is Real. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Today I was out for several hours with Danny, and when I got home my relaxation was interrupted by him barfing a whole bunch. Because we decided to see what would happen if we tried regular (aka NOT $25 a can) formula and, well, it didn't really work out.

So, at 4:45 I found myself in the car again for a quick trip to Wal-Mart for the bank breaking formula. My baby eats $125 a month JUST IN FORMULA. Plus baby food. It's awesome. Anyhow, as I was checking out with my Wal Mart brand soda and Great Value "zip-lock" bags, the people in front of me had a huge cart full of toys. Overflowing, actually.

The checker asked them how many kids they had. One, they answered. Just one?! was her response. Then they said that that wasn't even all the toys! There were more in their other car! And at home! And she's going to be so excited!

As I watched my total build up with the cat food, the formula, the generic bags, the $1 cheap toy I'd bought as a stocking stuffer, I remarked to the cashier that my kid's not that lucky, I think I spent the amount they'd spent on their one cart on ALL of our holiday gifts for the year.

She said something about the kid not being able to appreciate things (because of being spoiled). And I thought, what if I DID have the money? Would I fill up 2 shopping carts each with gifts for my boys?

I don't think I would.

In fact, I know I wouldn't. I would spend more money on my best friend, my sister, and especially my Mom. I would buy Sam something more, but not by quantity. I'd get him the Lego Airport he wants, instead of cobbling gifts together from various sales over the last few months and from trips to Value Village and Big Lots.

I have spent the last three months scouring sale and clearance racks for gifts that are both awesome AND affordable. I feel good about the fact that I stayed under the budgeted amounts I arbitrarily made up.

In the end, it's not about the money. It's about spending time with my family. It's about watching Sam open his stocking in our living room for the first time. It's about making gingerbread houses with Grandma, and driving around looking at Christmas lights, and the wonder on his face. It's about his letter to Santa, written at school, away from the influence of TV commercials or catalogs. He asked for a 'fox that shoots an elf' (think potato gun except instead of a gun it's a fox and instead of a potato it's an elf) and a plate that is only for pizza. I don't really know what to do with that, but imagining him walking with his class, holding hands with his best buddy on the way to the post office to mail the letters? That made my day.

When he's a little older, we'll teach him what Christmas means. We'll explain who the baby is that laid in the manger. And one day, when he is old enough to ask me if Santa is real, I will tell him - absolutely yes, Santa is real.

Santa is the spirit of the Holidays. He is in all of us. He is in the thought put into that perfect gift. He is in the food delivered to the food bank. He is in the posts of bloggers who have collected gift cards for people who could not afford their own Christmas. He is in the overflowing coat drive and Toys for Tots bins. He is in the giving tree, in every person who chooses a child they don't know, and makes Christmas happen for them. He is in the hugs from family we don't see that often, in the sleepovers with Grandma, and the sleigh rides with the Aunt you adore.

Santa is real. He is knowing that this is going to be a fabulous holiday, even if I couldn't afford a cart of gifts or a $100 Lego set. He's in me.

Money or no money, I wouldn't have it any other way.

A lot has happened in the last year.  We're not spending $125 a month on formula.  But this December, we have hundreds of dollars in doctor bills that I'm waiting to pay when we get the check from a side job Justin did last month.  We need new tires for the car (ASAP, the old ones are unsafe) and a new windshield (very soon).  We owe family money that we had to borrow because things were tight.  I need to replace my phone, which has had a shattered screen for the last two months.

Money is even tighter this year, and honestly?  It's December 6 and I haven't even thought about Christmas presents.  Or cards.  I'm not feeling too festive yet.  But there are things I'm looking forward to.  I've talked to my Mom and our goal for winter break is to make lots of stuff!  We want to put up the tree, decorate cookies, try crafts and new recipes from Pinterest, visit Stonyridge Farms, take drives to look at Christmas lights, and just have fun.

It's not always fun not having much money.  Sometimes it's hard when I can't buy Sam a new backpack just yet because we can't afford it even though his is a bit messed up.  But I hope that the upside will be that it reminds me to teach him and his brother about what is really important.  It's not about having a lot of stuff and big expensive things.  It's about family, love, and joy.

And I wouldn't have it any other way. 


AimeeWrites said...

This is lovely.  And, yes, I agree - Santa is so real.  I will always believe.  It's about the time and, as sappy as it sounds, it is the thought that truly counts.  I would rather have one $10 gift that someone gave because they KNEW it would please me, than a cartload of arbitrary gifts that cost ten times as much.

Tiffany VanVorst said...

My heart is with you, we are in the same boat. Christmas is very much all about love, family and togetherness. THAT is what matters and THAT is what the kids remember more than the 20,000 gifts.

Jackie said...

You are so right, Christmas is not about the money.  It IS about family.