Friday, November 26, 2010

Waiting for that big one!

Christmas is my  tsunami. O.k. an exaggeration! But, right after Thanksgiving, a wave of panic kicks in my psyche, one a day, sometimes more.  I tell myself these feelings occur every Christmas season, and there is no reason for me not to have this problem licked. I should really skip the season all together, fly to Barbados and pretend it's summer.

From November 26-to Christmas Day, I'm in the depths of depression. Not what you think, not the seasonal cold and dark weather induced malady. It all has to do with frenzy of this buying season: the expectations, the anticipation, the frustrations in choosing the right thing for the right person, the exhaustion, the going broke, the everything.

Usually, I adopt one of two  tactics, either delay purchasing anything until the last possible moment, or get a list and stick to it from day one.  Neither works.  The first one causes panic; the second one causes disappointments.  After all, the ideal present is never on a list; the ideal present suddenly pops up as one walks down a busy street, thinking of something else. 

The worst ever situation is when people tell you what they want. Now, you feel obligated to purchase those items, as well as some fabulous surprise.

There is way too much energy spent at Christmas. It's just dandy for those who enjoy the excitement. These are the same people who go to Disneyland, I guess, and can pretend to be children from the minute they enter those sacred doors. All that pretending wears me out. 

Hubby used to drag us (me, dragged!) to Disneyland on Father's Day. He just loved the joy on the children's faces. My point is that creating a pretend-real place is over the top pretend. The whole merchandising makes me gag, too.  My attitude was considered totally un-American. My children dismissed my arguments and insisted going to Disneyland was another cultural norm real Americans adopt willingly.

I haven't even started to talk about money. You'd think being old and on a fixed income would free me from all this nonsense.

I know! I can start a campaign of no-purchases as a Green Party platform. After all, we are in a recession, people. It's the right thing to do. It will disappoint so many people, Hubby especially. But it is the right thing to do!


becky at abbeystyle said...

Haha--a Green Party platform!

Our Christmases are humble...little by little, our large family made decisions to cut down on the gift what we purchase and plan are experiences to do together during the holidays.
Children, only, receive objects in boxes...otherwise, we pool our resources for day trips during the holidays. Groceries, of course, are the main purchases for celebrating dinners together. I find that the greatest pleasures of the season from November 26-to January 2 are plans and anticipations...then I stand back and let it'll be what it'll be.

Eva Gallant said...

We agreed to stop buying presents for the adults, and now just buy for the kids. Can't offord to do it up like we used to!

Bonnie said...

It really can become burdensome, if we allow ourselves to sucked in by the artificial imperative to turn it into a time of extravagant consumption.

I try to apply the KISS principle: keep it simple sweetheart!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

The G-man and I are running away for Christmas... want to come? That is our gift to ourselves.

An English Shepherd said...

Buy, Buy, Buy !

I agree its not very festive :-)

NitWit1 said...

A year ago my Best Friend+Husband and I and my Husband decided to re-format our brain's disk drive about Christmas giving, eating, presents., etc.

We are taking the money we spent on gifts for each other and doing charitable giving. Our area Newspaper has a wonderful Childrens program called Christmas Wish which I may blog about later.

Last year she adopted one family and did church outreach.

We primarily did church outreach. We established a rule we bought out own Xmas and Birthday presents no price limits. However, we gave to missionary efforts in Panama aimed at children; our Life group adopted 4 needy families from names obtained from area schools. We donated alot to them.

On reflection this year we are doing more as last year we actually did not spend as much as we did with the overindulgence we spent on friends who needed nothing, and a meal only few needed less than 10%,

No one is more generous than my husband who knows what POOR means. He grew up, the son of an alchoholic tobacco sharecropper. Christmas layaway payments, gave way to booze.

I cannot imagine such as Christmas was our biggest day of the year surpassing birthdays. My Mother loved everything about Christmas and Daddy always got a big bonus at Christmas. Some of you young 'uns may ask What is a bonus???

So We agree to with you in many respects. I think more needs to be emphasized 364 days a year on helping one another, and it is not always with money. There are many undone deeds of kindness and love we all are capable of giving, if we just open our eyes.

ellen abbott said...

You've expressed so well why I don't do christmas (besides just not being a christian). A holiday created, for the most part, by capitalism, draped in the expectation that you will get your heart's desire, that all will be love and joy just does not happen. It sets you up for disappointment. People are still the same people, families are still the same families, dynamics don't change just because madison avenue tells you ad infinitum ad nauseum that 'it's the most wonderful time of the year'. don't get me wrong, I think trying to find a truly perfect gift for someone is great but I resent the expectation that I have to do it on demand (and for everyone all at the same time) and impoverish myself in the bargain. Not to mention all the expectations of food and decorating all crammed into a short period of time. And I really hate the appearance of christmas before Halloween, much less Thanksgiving.

Everyday Goddess said...

The grown ups around here have agreed, only buy for the children. We have all that we really need, and more just means finding a place to put it away.

Marlene said...

We've stopped giving gifts at Christmas. Tell everyone to buy their own gifts for themselves. That way they will get exactly what they want without feeling guilty and in the process probably have money left over for other things, and time left over for other activities.

Some traditions, which were great when we didn't have many material possessions, need to be re-thought. There are so many other ways to be generous.

Hope said...

understand totally. unfortunately buying, wanting, having are part of our society, we have been seduced and brainwashed for a long time into thinking we need what we want, Christmas or not. Not saying getting what you want from time to time is wrong, just so long as it doesn't become an addiction. you are not alone in this

live your life with peace and harmony. the true meaning. giving is good for you only if you want to do it
I wish the best for you my friend

Len said...

Hi Rosaria! Thanks for following my blog...nice to meet a new blogger friend :)

Our Christmases are focused on togetherness, having lunch or dinner around the dining table with family and friends. :)

KarenG said...

"Christmas is my tsunami" That is awesome. It says it all.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I know how you mean even though there's no Thanksgiving here. As soon as we get close to December 1, I get nervous about Christmas.
I agree with many of your followers, that gifts are for kids and adults should be happy with meals together.
Take a few deep breaths and relax.

potsoc said...

Long before Christianity and commercialism people have been celebrating the Light and giving tokens of affection to the gods and to each other as god particles.
The sparkle in the eyes of the small ones, and in our family, in the eyes of adults while foraging through their Christmas stockings is something I will not forsake. We even have stockings for the cats (my daughters 3 and our daughter-in-law's 20 years old Livia), the ladies are just as glad as if the toys were theirs.
Have a nice Holyday Season in spite of what may spoil it a bit.
Sorry if I sound a bit of a dissenter.

#1Nana said...

Sign me up for the Green Party!

I'm with Becky. This year all my family is taking a trip and we're not buying gifts.

No Black Friday or Cyber Monday shopping for me.

Pseudo said...

I hear you. I get an anxiety attack every time I whip out my credit or debit card. I try and keep it low key with home made goodies for friends and neighbors. It helps a lot that the kids are older and so are the nieces and nephews. Still...

janis said...

so true for me too. I use to fully enjoy this frantic time, getting exactly what the girls wanted with some great surprises thrown in. I am a great little shopper & even did for others as well. It just isnt the same for me anymore... I go into panic now. I can not get what they want, and can't go shop like I use too. I lost me job (along w/ the rest of the department) & money is tighter than I ever have had to imagine. But, my family is tight & my girls are mature. They understand...somewhat. Even thinking I may have to forgo cards this year which will be the 3rd time in 25 yrs for me.
oh well... time to refuel, and get my game on♥ Love to you~

Woman in a Window said...

Rosaria, I hear you on this, straight to my spleen. And that's an awfully straight trajectory! This year I told everyone I was buying nothing. Nothing. Couldn't afford it. And then the other day I allowed myself to buy small token things. I was surprised. Just that freed me. I felt as though I was both participating and yet refraining from the spend big and without thought of our new Christmas season. I get to win-win. I get to save money, and yet still give, which is what I love to do.

Today it snowed for the first time. I ran downstairs with cold feet and jumped up and down as I watched the snow blow down the tracks sideways toward our house. I giggled. I feel like putting up lights. Christmas is coming! I will bake. I will watch movies and gather those I love around me. I don't give a rat's hiney about receiving, and I get to give, just a little. It will be a good, good Christmas. I feel it is here even now.

I wish the same for you.

much love

Anonymous said...

I can SO relate to your depression at Christmas, and the reasons for it. This Christmas we're doing what Eve says: just buying for the children. What do we adults need anyway? If my adult children really need something, I'll help them. I already have.

I get depressed with buy, buy, buy (this an echo of another one of your followers above). But I can listen to Christmas music--O Little Town of Bethlehem, etc etc--and feel peace.

Carmi said...

I so hear you! I don't celebrate Christmas, so I've always viewed the whole revolving-around-gifts thing with some suspicion. Since when does a meaningful holiday need to be exclusively about buying stuff at the mall? Do today's kids even KNOW what Christmas truly means? It's sad, as the holiday - indeed, the season - has been co-opted by commercialism.

Thank you for saying it as it needs to be said. Swimming against the tide isn't always the easy way. But sometimes it's indeed the right thing to do.

yaya said...

We've cut back a ton...and have asked the kids to not spend on us..we need nothing. But I enjoy getting together with family and friends, decorating, the music and many other small things about the day. Hope you can weather this tsunami out and find some peace.

Marguerite said...

This is exactly why I give gift certificates, for Christmas gifts! That way, I don't have to wear myself out, shopping and wrapping. And they can go and buy what they want and no one is ever disappointed.

Rob-bear said...

There are three events: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day.
There are three homes: ours, our son's and his family's, and are daughter's.
Mix and match locations. Do things together. Small presents. Much fun. Eat a few things.
No tsunami.

Murr Brewster said...

I think you might be surprised, if you swear off gift-giving (and receiving), how many people on your list would be relieved.

Donna said...

I "get" your feeling...have some of it too. I start shopping early to avoid some of that but those things you can't find or don't know what to get weigh on me. I feel especially challanged this year since my husband has been ill and have less time.
Guess I need to re-focus! Hope you are able to un-tsunami!!!

Moannie said...

I hear you, Rosaria, and anticipated the last minute frantic rush to buy something, anything, and usually ending up spending far too much in the process. This year we have all agreed to spend no more than £20 per person, and if a gift can be made, so much the better.

So I am all done and dusted, save JP's, who has everything he needs or wants.

Marion said...

I'm with Erin, I hear you down to my toes. We're on a fixed income, too, but in the past, we spent waaay too much on my girls and grandkids. Now they expect it, like you said. We've made some progress moving toward homemade things, but even those are expensive! Oh, the shipping costs!! I told my husband we should keep all our money and take a cruise....but then, but then, I can't imagine skipping Christmas. LOL! It's an enigma, for sure.

But I'm done with what little shopping I had to do for the grandkids. I bought the gifts online and had them shipped directly and told their parents to wrap them. Tee-Hee....

I hope you feel better and find a solution to your conundrum. I do love Christmas music, though.



Maggie May said...

Its the commercial side of Christmas that gets out of hand.
I think we should go back to the true meaning of Christmas and enjoy the simple things like a meal with the family, carols and church in the morning.
As for the tsunami, meet it head on!
You could change things around. You COULD tell people you aren't doing Christmas this year.
Good luck with it.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Therese said...

Hello, Rosaria, from the San Francisco Bay Area. Our very large extended family gathers for a Christmas Eve feast and I look so forward to it. We pick names so only have to buy for one person (excluding the kids). I love the tradition of it all. (And we all pitch in with the food.)
See you in two weeks!

Rachel Cotterill said...

I really wanted to make entirely edible Christmas presents this year. Everyone I buy for already has all the 'stuff' they need - sweeties or biscuits would be much more practical. But right now my kitchen is under a thick layer of dust... so I'm not sure how that will work out!

middle child said...

Just wanted to say I loved your comment on The Walking Mans post.

Dawn said...

Oh I hear ya!
Why don't we boycott Christmas and fly somewhere hot?
I'll be there in a minute....:)

Gaston Studio said...

I used to feel like that too, but finally realized that it's all just too stressful. So now, I have a cap on my spending for each person and absolutely never go over it. That removes some of the stress and we're all happier for it.

Amanda said...

oh rosaria, i hope you can find a way to free yourself from this whole obligatory catch 22 so many of us find ourselves in during the holidays. a few years ago, i told my family that i was going to give a donation in their names to a favorite charity and haven't looked back. once you make a change, people get used to it, and with a little passing time, you might just find yourself freed up and able to enjoy the holidays in a whole new way.

sending love and blessings your way

Phoenix said...

I have this problem too - a build up of expectations and let downs that seem to weigh down on me.

I've found that by simplifying my life - and that's everything from my Christmas cards to the presents I buy - I can find some truly humble joy in the holiday. After all, if it's the little things that make us happy, why not make it a season of little things?

Sarah Lulu said...

We started ...several years ago now ..Only giving homemade gifts could make something or cook something ... This year we are doing secret santa we only have to buy one gift. I also do a crazy santa sac ..filled with tiny gifts that cost somewhere between $1 and $5 .. and everyone gets to pick a couple a lucky dip. It took the pressure off everything.
Change what you can. Make it simpler.