Christmas is for everyone

I have lost count of the number of times I've heard it this year. "Let's just do gifts for the kids." And every time I am shocked, dismayed, speechless. What? Since when is Christmas just for children?

These are not easy times for most people, I know that. Everyone is trying to squeeze as much out of their budgets as possible, including us. If I don't impose spending limits on myself for each and every recipient on my Christmas list, I end up spending twice as much and eating things like macaroni and cheese for most of January.

But still. Only the kids get presents this year? Am I the only person who objects??

My husband asked me if Christmas was "only about the presents" for me when we had the discussion about whom to include on our list and how much to spend. After I sputtered for a while that it was about much more than presents, I tried to explain that I wouldn't even care (too much) if I didn't receive any gifts, but I didn't see why I couldn't buy or make gifts for the adults, too. I happen to like my friends, siblings, and other relatives just as much (or more) than I like their children, and I don't see why I shouldn't be able to do something special for them as well. Doesn't everyone enjoy gifts? Ok, no, some people don't. They find them a waste of money and usually don't get what they want or need. I won't name names here. But most people do like gifts, even if they are small and/or homemade. In fact lots of people like that kind the best.

I can't even picture what the Christmas trees at the various family parties will look like this year. Decorated and sparkly, sure, but mostly empty underneath. I come from a huge family, and the Christmas Eve pile at my grandparents' house is usually pretty impressive. Not this year. There are a handful of children doing an exchange, and everyone else has agreed not to do gifts. I understand, I do, but deep down I hate it.

I think the idea of outgrowing Christmas is depressing. I may be a lapsed Catholic, but I'm pretty sure I learned that Christ was born for all of us. And even if you don't go for the religious angle, everyone is in need of some thoughtfulness, especially if times are tough. It's true that I can sleep through the night on Christmas Eve (something that was particularly upsetting to me the first time it happened, as though now I was finally, sadly a grown-up about Christmas), but I still get that thrill when I wake up and realize what day it is and head for the stocking I just know will be stuffed with all kinds of fun goodies from my family.

This year I went along with it (mostly) in order to keep from making people uncomfortable. But this is my fair warning - a year in advance - that I'm going to refuse from now on. I'm going to buy or make gifts for anyone I want, regardless of age. I'm happy to do something free if the money thing will make people uncomfortable, but I don't want my son to grow up thinking that the holiday is all about him, but only until he is 18.

And no, I don't believe my parents or in-laws who say that we are still their "kids" so they can still get us presents. No need for the loophole or rationalization. We are not kids.

And Christmas is for all of us.

Sleep deprivation

Lack of sleep is currently responsible for the (temporary?) destruction of my resolutions, effective habits, and overall mood. I am never surprised in moments like these to recall that sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture and mind control.

Though our trip back to Michigan for the holidays was wonderful, it resulted in now nearly two weeks of interrupted nights courtesy of our toddler who had difficulties adjusting to the time zone each way, and is just generally having a hard time putting himself back to sleep without shouting about it multiple times a night. I know there are people out there (like my next-door neighbors who just brought home a newborn) who have to actually get up when their child cries and who are probably more exhausted than I am. I don't even know how to express my sympathy to those people because really - I NEED my full night's sleep. Even more than 3 or 4 hours uninterrupted would feel like bliss right now.

Even with monitor turned off, the mid-night cries of my son have yanked me out of a sound sleep for too long now, and if one more cat jumps on my head to demand to be fed at five in the morning, I might go seriously off the deep end.

If anyone knows how the fathers among us can sleep through the vast majority of this, let me know. I read an article about how it may not be their fault; they're just not programmed that way. I am no less annoyed.

I am fortunate enough to not be teaching this year, because I'm not sure that I could handle a classroom full of holiday-crazed children with any amount of patience right now.

Really, I have no patience for any of the Christmas cheer going on these days, which more than anything else tells me that it's getting close to time for drastic measures. Like sleeping in the guest room with our loudest fan. Or a hotel. I'm considering it.