Talking to the hubs on the drive in to work today (sun is shining blindingly…blahs have passed – thanks to everyone for your kind words…they really do help) and we of course got on the subject of Christmas. I wanted to know how we were doing on the money front since I’m working so hard to stay on budget. Answer? We’re doing “great”!
That was a relief because this time of year always weighs on my mind when it comes to money and shopping for the “perfect” gift for people. Many times without regard to what it costs.
See, my mother equated love with “things”. If you had the right things, bought the right things, wore the right things and, at Christmas, gifted the right things, then you were normal. No problems here folks…move along…nothing to see. Didn’t matter how much it cost or how far in debt we were or how many nights she spent playing bingo to try and win the money while I stayed home and dealt with a drunk father. Nope…just had to have the right things. What’s more, if she didn’t get the right things as gifts (and it was never right), she’d pout and make you feel like shit all day.
For years I didn’t even realize I was replicating some of this behavior. I didn’t realize that I was trying to make myself feel better on the outside with things, while all the time I was dying on the inside. And this was never more true than at Christmas. I gave the kids everything on their list, every year, no matter what. Most years, after all the shopping was done, I’d go out and fine some “wow” gift that they weren’t expecting so that they would have “the best Christmas EVER.” (Let’s get them all new Macs! How about we go get them each a new car! Let’s get them the XBox, Playstation AND a Wii!) Add to that all the baking, decorating and time spent with them and you have a shit storm of crazy, manic behavior that left me exhausted (and usually hungover) and feeling empty and most definitely broke and further in debt.
No one (except, probably, the hubs) knew what was going on inside of me. The kids had a great Santa experience. The neighbors attended the best parties at the best decorated house in the neighborhood. Friends received the best cookies and candies made from the most trendy recipes. The house remained spotless at all times. The only difference between me and my mom was that I had more money and I could care less if I got anything – I just wanted everyone else to have “the best Christmas EVER.”
But then I got sober and began to recover. I started to dig and pick at old scars and uncover what was really going on inside this dying heart. I’ve written about it over and over in this blog but one thing that has finally, blessedly, come to pass is that this year I’m not stressing about gifts. I purchased things I knew people would enjoy, that I picked out myself but that are within a prescribed budget. I clued my men into the fact that there would be a strict budget this year and no “wow” gifts under the tree. I will make some candy and cookies but only if there is time and I feel like it. There will be no Christmas party at the Magic House this year.
What there will be is a house filled with love and gratitude for the simple gift of being together for one more year. There will be gifts, purchased or made, that were selected especially for loved ones and given with love. How they take them is not up to me. What they think about them is not up to me. All I can do is love them and provide a small token of that love in the spirit of the season.
There will be a remembrance of the birth of Jesus and what that means in our Christian home (it’s not the same among all of my kids so it’s always a great conversation). Again, there will be gratitude.
And for me? There will be some hard won peace. I am so okay with that.