As the calendar year is rounding out in the Post-Present//Christmas Mania week before New Years, I have had a bit more down time to reflect on the holiday season. And by a bit more down time, I mean I have been the epitome of a lazy bum for two days.. watching more TV than I have in the last year combined and not being productive in any manner. My parent’s house has a way of paralyzing my productivity the second I walk through the door. My body also thinks that it is appropriate to sleep 10+ hours per night, because let’s face it, I have nothing better to do.
Anyways, back to the reflection time.. I have always been shocked by the sheer number of shopping-crazed mall-trompers around the holiday season, and even more so with the hysteria of Black Friday.. that now starts on Thanksgiving day (we are not even going to get into the ridiculousness of that issue). It seems that as the years pass, people are even more hyper-focused on materialism and the physicality of gifts, rather than the sentiment. I see so many people, including myself, who are pushed into spending an inordinate amount of money each holiday season on gifts that people probably don’t even want.. things that are just junk that can be counted as a Christmas gift. Yes, many people put a lot of thought and time into gifts, such as my parent’s adorable scavenger hunt filled with riddles//clues in the form of poems that send us frolicking around the house like children again. And giving is a very important facet of the holidays. But people tend to forget that it is not just about giving things.. its about giving time, giving love, and sharing joy with friends and family. Gifts have harnessed the full attention of the holiday season, rather than the simple little moments of family time. Yet when I think back on past Christmases, I rarely can tell you what gift I received, yet I can always recall a certain family moment or tradition. I can’t remember the exact gift I received when I was twelve, but I remember spending hours decorating our house for the season, and my mom finding out that she was allergic to fake snow… quite entertaining since my mother has a continuously running dialogue with herself.
I can definitely attest to the fact that Christmas is way more fun and mystical as a child, when Santa is a real life hero and gift bearer of magical proportions. But the one thing that beats Christmas as a child is coordinating Christmas as an adult for other children. This year, my brother’s family including two adorable children, who are still Santa-mesmorized, spent Christmas at my parent’s house. There were nine people spending 24/7 together in our house: rotating shower schedules to maximize the hot water, eating around a tiny, tiny table all squished together, and running after children with energy levels that never run below 99%. My exercise this holiday season to burn off the many, many bowls of ice cream included playing football with a little superstar athlete, and running from being “frozen” by a magical wand.
So among the trampoline park, rock collecting, and tickle fights, the adults managed to scrape together a pretty awesome Christmas. My parents went above and beyond the call of duty of grandparentness.. and it was fabulous! After the munchkins went to sleep on Christmas Eve, we started piecing together Hot Wheels runways, unwrapping 50+ mini-hot wheels cars, and setting out lego sets for girls (I love that legos are now made for both genders, enticing girls to pursue engineering-like fun). Besides the fact that the Hot Wheels track was incredibly loud and didn’t want to stay put together, my brother managed to set off the Frozen music on not one, but three toys.. on multiple occasions. As a sing-along microphone began to play “Let It Go,” he frantically shoved it under his arm to diminish the sound… it didn’t work! Then two seconds later, he set it off again.
What I found most interesting about Christmas with little ones, was the truth that the smallest, most inexpensive gifts tend to be the biggest hits. My mom bought them play sand, which entertained them more than anything. That wasn’t even one of the “big” Santa gifts. It seems like the vast number of presents each year overwhelms kids, and they tend to play with one or two favorite toys anyways. Some of the other gifts may get used eventually, a few times, but was it really worth it to buy? They don’t need a million gifts every year that pile up in toy closets or on the floor.
Even though this post seems quite cynical, I do love this time of year. It is my favorite season for many reasons: cold weather && snow, family time, warm && fuzzy feelings surrounding traditions, and decorations. Christmas will always be my favorite holiday and holds a dear place in my heart. Growing up, my parents went all out for Christmas with Clark Griswald style Christmas lights, decorations in every room in the house, and a house full of family on Christmas Eve. As years have gone on, they have found ways to make Christmas day even more special with scavenger hunts. My dad writes riddles && clues, such as sending us to the Tahoe outside by describing Lake Tahoe, and making voice-overs on Hunger Games movies to challenge us to win the hunt. The amount of time my parents spend writing && putting together the hunt is so heart-warming. It is better than any gift that I could ask for. They keep the Christmas spirit alive at home.
So now that I have rambled about the holidays for way too long in my scatter-brained attempt to reflect on Christmas, I feel that I can finally put the Christmas season to rest and refocus on the New Year quickly approaching. New Year’s Eve is my second favorite holiday because of my obsession with writing down resolutions && goals. Going around the room listing our resolutions is another integral Shepard family tradition, and this year I can’t wait to look out into 2015 with bright hopes.
Happy Holidays Y’all!