All I wanted for Christmas that year was the fashion show stage on which to perch my Dawn doll.
And I got it. And a ton of other stuff, too. Christmas at my childhood home was always a little out of control, and these days, it’s a veritable orgy (my parents still live in the same house and now have 6 grandchildren).
Which is not necessarily a good thing.
Here’s what I remember about Christmases as a child: making my list, checking it over daily, wondering if I’d asked for the things that would REALLY make me happy, and then…the Christmas day letdown.
My sisters and I would wait on the stairs until all the grownups got their coffee and my dad got the camera set up. It took 5 hours, I swear (or maybe just 15 minutes).
Finally, we’d scramble up the stairs and behold our loot from Santa. There were ooohs and aaaaahs as we discovered our skate board (Sheri), our Big Wheel (Tami), or our set of World Book encyclopediae (me. Yes, my dorkiness goes way back).
Then we’d go on to the wrapped presents. We had a rule that we’d all focus on one person at a time as he/she opened a present. With grandparents, parents, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, there was a whole lotta waiting going on.
Eventually we’d have everything opened and settle in for an afternoon of eating and playing with our booty. Wait, I mean trying out our new stuff.
I’d flit between the latest Nancy Drew book and my new spirograph, pick up a random World Book (usually L) and listen to my new groovy radio/pendant. And, of course, put Dawn on her stage and twirl her around.
If I stopped for a moment, I would feel it. And I didn’t want to feel it.
Every year an awful secret thought would pop up: Is this all?
I’d get everything I wanted, but I never felt sated.
I did not lack for any of the “real” stuff, either. I had plenty of love and attention from my parents. I had the same self-esteem that pre-teen girls tend to have. I did not live in lack.
Still, after such a buildup, Christmas was a letdown. Even then I knew the stuff wasn’t meaningful in the scheme of things.
I want to save my children from the yule malaise I experienced. So I’ve come up with these 5 tried and true methods to avoid the Christmas buildup/letdown.
- Hermetically seal children in their TV-less, wireless-less rooms from October 1 until December 26. If the store is out of hermetic sealant, duct tape will do.
- Find a hypnotist who will reprogram the kids. Anytime they hear the word “Christmas,” they are to forget about presents and ask Mom if they can do a chore.
- Tell the children that the labor unions have gotten to the elves and Christmas is canceled due to the strike. Luckily, underwear and socks are not manufactured by elves.
- Explain the new church doctrine: Christmas presents can be purchased only with drachmas. And we’re fresh out.
- Bummer about the USDA. All foreign reindeer are prohibited from entry to our country due to the risk of hoof-in-mouth disease. Maybe next year…
What are your thoughts on the Christmas buildup? How do you temper expectations, if indeed you do?
(Originally appeared at Mile High Mamas.)