Monday, November 23, 2009

Ho Ho.....Hum

Why is it that when things start to balance out, feel normal and calm, seemingly routine, that you get instantly thrust into emotionally stressful situations that make you over think and project and fester and analyze and contemplate and overall doubt your momentary sanity?

The most minimalist of things really, but monumental to everyone. That one thing that drives us and divides us all the same. That leads us to do what we do every day, to make us get up in the morning. That's right. Money, or moreover, lack thereof.

It's amazing what a piece of fiber and paper can do to a person. How it can cause both happiness and pain. Both stress when you have none and pompousness when you have abundance. How it creates rifts in families or in societal niches.

And you think you're ok. You get along, living paycheck to paycheck. Working just enough to get by. And usually it’s enough. Sort of. You make too much to get help, and too little to survive. It's a shame how these systems work really. But who am I to tell them what to do, I mean I'm just a single mom with no child support, what do I know of struggles?

The impending holidays always make me worry more. I want for my son to have the best memories possible. I want him to think back on his childhood fondly and not know that there was ever trouble in his life. Isn't that the job of a parent? Creating illusions for their children?

I remembering being a kid and coming downstairs at Christmas to have wall to wall presents, and as many of those holier than thou people will tell me that it's not about the gifts it’s about family and yadda yadda yadda, it wasn't the exact gifts I remember. I remember sitting giddy at the top of the stairs waiting to go downstairs to see what Santa had brought with my brother, so excited in fact that I would usually throw up from the sheer anticipation and anxiety of it all.

I remember waking up my parents and having my father go downstairs to "make sure" Santa came. Of course as I grew older I realized he was making sure nothing was forgotten and that the video camera was properly placed to document the merriment, but it was still a great feeling to watch him tread those stairs that morning.

I remember getting the OK from him as he bellowed from the stairs, and somehow my brother and I making it down in one piece as we fought tooth and nail to get to the bottom of the stairs first. Overcome with excitement and wonder as we would enter the living room, wide eyed at the site of a living room transformed into a magically room full of gifts, wrapping paper and bows as far as the eye could see. My sister gingerly following us in her teenage angsty way, trying to mute her excitement, but failing.

I never knew my parents struggled. Back then they didn't, and things were ok, but as I got older and my dad's health declined, as the economy got worse and inflation started to make things harder to come by, I never knew. It wasn't that I was oblivious really. I knew in other ways we had scaled back on things, but holidays, holidays were the one time where as a kid you should never know struggle. You should never know hardship or sadness.

You should wake up, surrounded by toys, by games and my love. By family and feast. A table ornately set and decorated. Full of people arguing and laughing. Making memories.

And yet, I fear my child is losing out on what I had. Partly because I can't afford to give it to him and partly because my family has lost the spirit to want to participate in any of it. Lost on traditions. We have our traditions, we have our ways. And sure over the years they have changed and molded, but I want the heart of them the same. The feeling of them. That giddy anticipation from parent and child, I want to make new memories for my son.

I fear that funding make cause a fundamental problem in holiday cheer.


  1. I can't get my whole message to fit in one box.. so I'm breaking this up in two :)

    Haha.. you're so right about alot of these things. Your Christmas sounded much like mine, accept the difference is my parents were struggling so mighty hard, and yet still managed to give us amazing holidays, and we had NO IDEA they were struggling. Christmases that my brothers and I STILL talk about and just like you said - not so much the gifts themselves, infact NOT AT ALL, but the fun moments like when dad set up a "security system" so that we couldn't move the curtain over the glass door to peak at the presents or else it'd go off and santa's elves would come steal them back.

    I'd be willing to bet that some of those Christmases (what IS the plural for Christmas anyway? Lol) that you look at now where you thought your folks weren't struggling, that they’d maybe beg to differ.

    Granted you are in a different position whereas you are a single mother and only have one child. So that dynamic will be different to start off. But tradition is what you make it, and traditions can be restarted and recharged. YOU can be the one to use this as an opportunity to give your son more reason than gifts wall to wall to be excited for. If a child does not have anything to compare it to, he/she won't know any better. But I do understand your concern and it is not an easy one to ignore, so maybe 4 gifts under the tree will excite him more than you think. Adults give children too much credit. You have the ability to make those 4 gifts something that your son will remember forever. Perhaps move the tree to a small corner of the room so that his perception is warped. He will see that that corner is filled with gifts, regardless of the amount (he won't know) and the glimmer of the wrapping paper, the smell of the tree, the soft music playing in the background (you know like Rudolph hahaha), and the cup of milk with a cinnamon roll waiting on the table for him, will give him some things to make him excited about. After all, when I go visit my old home I see things that I always imagined so much larger – the yard, the porch, the trees, the windows, the rooms, etc. than they ever really were. So your wall to wall gifts might really not have been that large in the first place. Our perception is different as children, for we too are smaller than we are now.

  2. I agree with you to an extent that children shouldn’t see you struggle. But, I also think that if they see you do, it empowers them to be a better person and realize that life is a struggle at times. It gives them the ability to be humble and realistic. Do I think we should let them see all of our weakness? No.. but you know, living at home now, I realize that my parents are humans, they are no longer that perfect pair that I always thought they were. They make mistakes, they make really stupid decisions, they can be lazy and undetermined and they can be less than stellar. It’s been an extremely hard reality for me for they always shielded me from these weaknesses. They always only showed us their strength. They built themselves a sort of superman complex and created unrelenting standards for both me and my brothers. To see them now is a hard hit of reality and almost makes me mad. The façade is over and it’s been 30 years that my brothers and I have been living this. I feel somewhat duped and unsure of how to handle the future for now we are the ones picking up the pieces that they have dropped and left behind. If you give your child the right to see your vulnerability and your less than perfect interior you give them the right to love “wholey” and not just what you are choosing to show them. Help your son see that not everyone or thing is perfect and that you are not invincible to tragedy, failure, struggles, heartbreak, etc. This doesn’t mean you are giving up responsibility or the position of safety that he holds you in now. It simply shows him that you are able to get through whatever life throws at you. It’s just like the people who overwhelm their kids with antibacterial soap, the day he doesn’t use it he gets sick as a dog. Help him have a little tough skin so he’s immune to the small things but stronger for the bigger challenges.

    Do I think you are selfish and wrong for wanting to give your child an amazing Christmas? Not at all. To be honest, I’d probably have 100% of the same thoughts you are having now. But sometimes it’s nice to play the devil’s advocate, especially when you aren’t in the position to do so. ☺

    Just remember whatever you can give him… he will remember.

    I love this post Apryl. P.S. this is Jillian ☺


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