“Oh the noise, noise, noise!”  “I must stop this Christmas from coming…  But how?!”

Did I mention that I don’t like the holidays?  I took the boys to the mall today because they have an indoor playground and Mega needed some play time with other kids his age.  Christmas decorations dangling from any object that would support weight…  Christmas music pouring out of every electonic orifice…  People starting to shop for distant cousins they haven’t seen in years, but get a card from every December 25th…

I put the Grinch to shame.  If I could do away with Christmas all together, I would.  I like the food, and baking yummy holiday-shaped cookies.  I even like decorating…  sometimes.  I really like wrapping presents and finding gifts for people that I know they’ll enjoy.  So now you’re wondering why I don’t like the holidays…  Let me tell you…

1.)  I hate when people keep score.  “Last year they bought a gift for me, so this year, I will buy a gift for them.”  Or even better, “They didn’t buy something for me, so I won’t buy for them.”  Get over it.  Is that really what gifts are about?  Has it really become a gift exchange rather than just a giving season?

2.)  I hate family drama.  A.)Let’s all get together and pretend we like each other for the day.  I don’t wanna see your fake smile all day when I know how you feel about me the other 364 days out of the year.  If you can bury the hatchet for one day, maybe you should think about just trying to get things right the rest of the year.  Otherwise, just stay out of my face today, too.  B.)  We spent “x” amount of time with YOUR side of the family, so now we have to spend “x” amount of time with MY side of the family, etc.

3.) Gifts.  A.) I buy you something because I saw something and thought of you.  I could afford it at the time, so I picked it up.  End of story.  B.)  If I don’t buy something for you it’s because I either couldn’t afford it, or I honestly didn’t see anything I thought you would enjoy.  I don’t half-ass gifts.  C.)  Gift exchanges.  To me, these things are appropriate only for large, not-so-personal groups (office pools church groups, etc.), or HUGE families.  Even in families, it should be only if you WANT to participate and can afford to, not because everyone else is doing it and/or you’re obligated.

4.) Retail.  “Give more, get more.”  “Best sale ever!”  “On time only!”  “Last chance offer!”  Bullshit.  I find great sales year-round and never pay full retail…  For anything.

5.)  The cheesy factor.  I know it’s a “jolly, happy” time of year, but seriously.  If I see one more fake ass, painted on smile, I just might choke someone.  You’re just as stressed out, financially strapped, and worn out as everyone else.  Quit playin’ around. 

Perhaps I am slightly jaded.  I have decided that holidays in our family will be as drama-free as possible, low-stress, and the gifts are optional.  I want my kids to look back and remember baking cookies, watching the traditional crappy Christmas movies, decorating, and spending time goofing off as a family.  What they found under the tree should just be a bonus, not the highlight.  Who did and did not show up shouldn’t bother them because they know the people who made it a priority were there, and they are they ones that count.  It shouldn’t be that difficult to have one, perfect day out of the year…  JUST ONE.

This year I’m not stressing.  I got gifts for my boys because that was all I could afford.  They were modest, and the kids got mostly things they needed because they’re really too young to understand anyway.  At Mega’s age, it’s all about unwrapping and playing in the boxes and paper.  Popeye will probably just stare at the lights on the tree and be over-stimulated by it all.  DH and I weren’t even going to GET gifts for each other.  After further discussion, we decided to set a meager limit and promise to stick to it simply because we rarely do anything for ourselves the rest of the year.  We plan to do a small, intimate dinner and be done with it.  I will be content to bake cookies, perhaps make some chocolate candies, have a nice dinner, and be done with it.  The highlight of my whole day will be watching Mega rip into boxes, throw the paper all over the place, and then build a fort of the boxes…  You know, one we will invariably have to destroy in the middle of the night and then demolish the evidence…  Good times.