I haven’t been feeling well. My wife Krista, took the last couple of weeks of the year off and so far we’ve been through her being sick. Her ripping off part of her fingernail trying to clean the pool filter. I haven’t felt so hot the past couple of days and my back is really bothering me. Yes, I’ll have some cheese to go with my whine. I was asked this morning if I had already given up blogging, but I’m still here!
Holidays are a funny time for me. My childhood sucked. For the longest time I hated Christmas. We put on a big show, everything had to be perfect and we pasted phony smiles on our faces that hid all the pain and ugliness that went on in our lives the other days of the year while I was growing up.
As an adult, as a parent, I’ve had a second opportunity….a do over….to create the kind of family that gives my kids the love, security and support I never had. It gives me the chance to bathe my wounds in the love, security and support I get back from them in return. I do the best I can everyday to give my kids the things they need (and often the things they want, within reason) and to make them feel special. So I still struggle with Christmas.
I’ve done my best to hide my struggles from the kids. I’ve tried to make sure my kids know that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the real reason for Christmas. We normally bake a birthday cake for Jesus, but somehow that slipped past us this year. I’ve been to culinary school and although I love to cook, I’m not much for baking or eating sweets so I leave the baking to my wife. When it comes to Santa, I’ve always told my daughter that Santa is just something we do for fun. I never really came out and told her the truth, but I never encouraged it either. It was my compromise and the best I could muster when it came to jolly old St. Nick. I was a surprised at my reaction to find out that my daughter Emily, who is now in the 3rd grade, came home telling my wife that kids at school are beginning to tell her that Santa is not real….that Santa is your parents. We have a tradition now in our family. It started one year when Emily wanted to mail letters to Santa. We didn’t want her going out to the real mailbox each time, so there is a table in the front entrance that has a drawer and we told her that the drawer was Santa’s special mailbox where he would pick up her letters. That drawer has been stuffed full of letters the past few years. We’ve even been caught off guard when we were informed in the middle of the year that Santa hadn’t been by to pick up her letter. Krista had to tell her that Santa was on vacation and he would be around soon. So anyway, I guess I was a bit taken aback by my feelings when I found out out that though she claims to still “believe”, I know that time is running short for Santa in the life of my daughter. I guess it represents a certain loss of innocence that I’m just not ready to see slip away from her…another reminder that time is going by way too fast for me as a dad. I love my kids SO much….I wish this time with them could last forever.
I’ve moved around a ton in my life. Krista and I have been together for 16 years. We’ve been in our current house for 6 years this coming March. Before that, we averaged a move every six months. It was always like that for me. I think this is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere in one place. As a result, I am the exact opposite of a pack rat. If I don’t use it, it’s out of here. After all, when you move that much, you don’t want to have to keep moving all your junk with you each time. Krista’s parents once told us we should get inflatable furniture. We donate all of our old stuff to Mission Arlington. I know we could save up our stuff and have a garage sale, but it makes me feel really good passing on our stuff to people who really need it. I feel thankful that we have so much and I remember what it was like to have nothing. It is my pleasure to help those less fortunate than we are. I’m trying to instill that in my kids. My daughter Emily is a bit of a pack rat…..ok…she is a full blown pack rat. She never get’s rid of ANYTHING. It used to be so easy with her. Each year we would go through her stuff and have her donate her things that she wasn’t using anymore to kids that didn’t have what she has. She never really had a problem letting go until the last year or so. I don’t know if it’s the whole Toy Story syndrome, or something else at play, but we don’t force her to give up anything, we just encourage. It’s gotten to be just too much and yesterday, Krista went through all the kids stuff and got them to agree to give up some of it. Justin, my son, was the recipient of a lot of hand-me-downs in the toy department from his big sister. It just so happens that he has now outgrown a lot of the stuff we originally bought Emily when she was just a baby. One of the toys was a Baby Tad that I bought for Emily before she was even born. So to my surprise AGAIN, I suddenly find myself having anxiety over the things being set aside to give away. I really started to struggle with my feelings of having to give these things up. If you knew me at all, you would know that these kinds of feelings just don’t fit me. I worked through the emotions and I’m happy to report that we made a large donation of clothes, baby furniture and toys to Mission Arlington today…but not before I took some snapshots to keep as reminders. It’s a lot easier to keep pictures than stuff and somebody that really needs what we had, now gets to make good use of it. So my kids had a good Christmas and hopefully they learned a bit about giving and also about what our Savior gave to us….