I’m Skipping Christmas This Year

skipping christmasOkay, I don’t mean skipping Christmas literally. We aren’t totally ignoring Christmas. Kinda hard miss it to when Christmas carols start November 1, and your Halloween candy is still melting in your mouth while Target throws ornaments at you. But as someone who has long struggled with this holiday, the meaning of it and the gross commercialization of it, we are going to do it differently this year.

Because of my kids’ ages, I’ve done 14 years of Santa. F.o.u.r.t.e.e.n. And it was really fun while it lasted. But over the past two years, I started to realize I was struggling to find things my kids wanted. They didn’t need anything, and buying stuff to buy stuff was just stupid and a waste. When they played with toys, Christmas was easy and fun. But they don’t anymore. Three out of four know Santa is a spirit you carry in your heart and something you bring to others. The fourth, despite his sister telling him point blank, is still holding onto his Santa dreams. But I can handle that. What I cannot handle is more toys they have outgrown, or money on games they don’t have time to play between homework, school, and sports, and picking up one more damn game piece after it ends up scattered across my house.

This year, we are taking a trip instead of doing Christmas. I told them they could have three presents each. To my shock, this wasn’t met with tears at all. Instead, they spent time purusing the catalogs we received in the mail and looking on Amazon. And what they did pick out was much more practical than anything I would have guessed. A new baseball glove. A pair of Crocs. Sneakers. Bat grip. I was really happy with the fact that they were very thoughtful and took the time to pick out something they were really going to use, instead of me trying to find something I thought they’d like.

We will have a mini Christmas at home with our traditional meal and decorations (which still aren’t up, by the way — birthdays and Hannukah first in our house). Then we will take our trip. The burden this takes off me I’ve been feeling free from since September, honestly. Because Christmas, let’s be honest, is a heck of a lot of work for moms. It is work I am more than willing to do for the sake and love of my kids, but it is definitely more work. On top of the every day of ballet, baseball, Nutcracker shows, lunches, Christmas sing-alongs, teacher gifts, live nativities, luminaries, class parties, work holiday parties, last-minute field trips, laundry, dishes, and everyday life. I am feeling 100 pounds lighter with only a small gift burden and a pack-up-the-car burden only. The shopping, cooking, cleaning, hunting down ingredients, dragging dressed-up kids to church, waking up at 4 a.m. to open presents, and a huge mess to clean up burden is gone. It’s lifted off my shoulders. And that, to me, is a huge gift, to myself.

Christmas will still be magical. Santa will bring stockings, for my one child holding onto the dream. Stockings they did not pick out or know what’s in them ahead of time so there will still be surprises and some magic. I will miss our church on Christmas and celebrating there. But I also know that Christmas spirit doesn’t come wrapped in a fancy bow and love isn’t determined by gifts. Those things are in your heart and can be shared with your family no matter where or how you celebrate. So this Christmas, we’re skipping it all.

Meg is a working mom of four and an avid community volunteer. She has worked in corporate communications and media relations for more than 18 years, for a Fortune 500 company as well as a non-profit. She took some time off to enjoy life as a stay at home mom after the birth of her first child in 2008. Her sweet, introverted daughter, was excited to welcome her baby brother in 2013, and then boy/girl twins joined the family in 2016. Meg finds being an “office mama” a constant balancing act and never-ending challenge but enjoys the opportunities it offers her for personal growth. A Virginia girl at heart, she loves Florida’s warm weather, the great quality of life Jacksonville offers her family.

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