Merry Christmas 2017

It’s Christmas time again and at times it feel weird that the year is almost done. However, it also feels like 2017 has been dragging along forever. This year Christmas is a mostly quiet affair for us. We’re hitting the Chinese buffet for Christmas Eve dinner, and then Christmas Day is visiting the casino with my mother-in-law. Most of Christmas Eve was spent quietly playing with new toys and gifts.

It’s weird to see the tiny amount of gifts under the tree this year, but in general the kids are all interested in things that are small. I’m kinda happy for this, since that means a lot less stuff to clutter up the house. I did manage to put together some cool stockings stuffed with candy and treats. I even toss in some lightsaber pencils.

I’m thankful for quiet holidays. It forces me to slow down and rest a bit, because there’s little I can do or get done. I have to just be quiet and let the day happen. My plan is to write some blog entries to finish out the years with, and try not to eat all the sugary items in the house right now. I have a feeling there will be a weight loss resolution in 2018.

Merry Christmas everyone!

A Christmas Tree first

Our holiday tradition is to spend the day after Thanksgiving going for a walk as a family to #optoutside, and then putting up our Christmas tree while Bing Crosby plays in the background. This past week the wife and I spent some time looking around for a better artificial tree then the one I had before we got married. It was kinda small and was starting to look a big ragged.

IMG_1849.jpgAfter pursuing some very expensive trees at local stores we decided to go the complete opposite direction and get a real tree. This is the first time that I’ve ever owned a real tree in my life, and the first time in a long time that Lisa has had one. So we headed out Friday morning and hit the local Home Depot for our first real Christmas tree together. We picked out a nice Balsam Fir, and proceeded to get it attached to the roof of our car. In the future, if we do this again, I’m going to just borrow a friend’s trailer. It will make it much easier to strap down.

We got it home and proceeded to set it up. Honestly it was easier than putting together a fake tree, and making sure you get all the limbs inserted in the right slots. It wasn’t really any less messy either, since our fake tree shed like crazy as well. Once we got it in place we proceeded to put up the decorations and we now have a wonderful smelling living room, and a nicely decorated, real, Christmas tree.

We’ll see how we feel about things in a month or so, but I felt like this was so much easier than a fake tree, and now I don’t have to store anything for another year. I’m really happy we made the choice to go real this year.

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My wife gets me

From my lovely wife I also got some drinkware. In this case, a couple of wine glasses that are overlaid with constellations of the summer and winter sky. These things are really cool looking, and since they are summer and winter, each glass is unique from the other. I love astronomy and this is an awesome gift from a woman who gets what I like.

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Merry Christmas 2016

As I write this entry on Christmas Eve, the family has just finished opening presents. We’re settling in for a relaxing evening, eventually watching the Polar Express (we watched Elf earlier today). I always love a nice quiet Christmas Eve together as a family.

It seems that every year that I get older, Christmas changes from the year before. When I was newly married, and the kids were young, the pattern seemed set forever. However, through divorce, and the fact that kids get older, traditions change. What doesn’t change is the warmth of getting to be together as a family and seeing everyone enjoy the generosity of others. The kids are always grateful for what we get them, even if it’s only a few select things.

We’ve started a new tradition this year of hitting a Chinese buffet on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. It was a spur of the moment idea on Thanksgiving, but with picky teenage eaters it’s a great way to have bunch of food that everyone likes. The buffet near us is huge and clean, so that makes it enjoyable for all of us, and it makes cleanup easy.

I’m realizing that I’m rambling, so I’ll just end this short entry with a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to all of you. The year is drawing to a close, and soon 2016 will be a distant memory. For now, enjoy time with friends and family.

The Santa Myth

A good friend of mine recently posted a link to his social media for an article about parenting, and the Santa Myth. The article was a decent take on one parent’s attempt to balance the idea of letting their kids believe in Santa Claus, while at the same time preparing for the day they stop believing. I have some strong thoughts about Santa, but I didn’t want to start a big long essay on my friends post, so I figured it would be a good topic to blog about.

When it comes to Santa Claus, I’m not a fan. When my kids were little Santa was just another cute story told around the holidays, but from their youngest ages my sons always knew who was putting the presents under the tree. My aversion to perpetuating the Santa Myth started from one of the core arguments that the PBS article gives, namely that doing the whole Santa deal means lying to your children.

When I was a young child, my mom let me believe in Santa Claus for many years. I even have photos of me as a young child on Santa’s lap. That all changed when I was 6 years old and I overheard her talking on the phone to one of her friends. I don’t recall the exact conversation she was having, but I do remember that I heard something that told me the trust, and I was devastated. I cried a good long time upon hearing that Santa wasn’t real.

The truth was, I didn’t care if Santa was real or fake; it was made very clear to me that my mom had been putting the presents under the tree, and that she would continue to do so. I was upset that my mom, someone I trusted implicitly, had been lying to me. Even at six years old I was confused as to why my mom would lie to me about something like Santa. I didn’t understand why he was so important, that it justified deceiving me.

I still maintain that position today. One might simply dismiss my dislike of the Santa Myth as the scars of a childhood memory. But as a parent, I had an opportunity to re-examine my thinking when my first child was born. As an adult, I thought not just about the memories of how I learned the “truth” about Santa, but also what the whole myth really means to me.

The idea of Santa irks me, and I think the core reason is that it feels like a misrepresentation of what a season, and spirit, of giving is really supposed to be about. The idea of sharing and giving to others is an important lesson that children should learn. However, the Santa Myth turns giving into getting. In order to get presents from Santa you need be on his nice list. This means that the entire present exchange becomes an act of trying to earn your gifts, because if you’re on the naughty list you don’t get anything. The presents magically appear, and the emphasis isn’t about giving a gift, but simply getting something.

My children’s mother and I agreed that this wasn’t the lesson that we wanted to teach the boys. We made a decision to not perpetuate the Santa Myth in our house, and instead, we emphasized the importance of the season as one where you give to others. My ex-wife had a passion for charity, and all throughout the boys early years, we would spend many hours buying gifts for shoeboxes for the poor, or Angel Tree donations. Then, as a family, we would spend a couple of evenings packing and wrapping all of the donations that we were giving. The whole family would then bring the donations, to the drop-off sites for their distribution. We did this for most of the years that the boys were growing up.

I don’t feel bad about not doing the whole Santa thing with my kids, and so far my kids haven’t expressed any concerns that they feel that they missed out on something. I’ve even seen small glimpses that the seeds that we sowed might actually be paying off. One of my boys goes out of his way to make sure he spends some of his money to buy presents for a few people, giving thoughtful gifts to people he cares about.

I’m certainly not judging anyone who wants to do Santa with their kids, that’s a choice every parent has to make. However, for me, the Santa Myth is one of those stories I’m more than happy to leave in the pages of a book.