On December 1st, my little boys asked me to decorate the house for Christmas. So I did. But I wasn't feeling the spirit of Christmas. To be honest, I haven't felt it all month. Not getting to spend Christmas with my family like we'd hope to, helped to take the wind out of my sails. Every day, my cousin has announced the countdown as we get closer and closer to Christmas. In the beginning, my response was 'Aack!' because I just wasn't ready. But as it's continued to get closer, I've leaned more towards disheartened.
For the last 2 weeks, my little boys been asking me where the presents are, because the tree is dressed and lit, with a bare skirt beneath it. I've told them it's to prevent the cat from digging through them and the dogs from messing with them and so my boys won't be tempted to look. But being completely honest, my animals and children are all very good, and are good about leaving things alone. No. The real reason I hadn't put anything under there was because I've been worried there wasn't really anything -to- put under there.
As much as we don't talk about it, I know that my children are aware. When they wrote their Christmas letters to Santa, my oldest asked for 2 specific video games, a pair of nice boots, and an alarm clock. My youngest asked for a pillow pet, an xbox game (but Momma, I can't think of any one to ask for by name...), a round clock for his room, and a new leapster because the one he got when he was 2 is no longer working.
Last week, when my children came home from school, my 5 year old showed me his feet and as he wiggled his toes at me through the bottom of his shoes, he asked me for a new pair, please. My 8 year old had given me this same request the week before-- both of his shoe laces are broken and his toe was popping through on the top of one of his shoes. But his request was a little more specific, "Mom....can it -not- be a $5 pair from WalMart, please?" I promised him a nicer pair for Christmas, if he could wait just a little bit. A hole on top is irritating, but manageable. Two blowouts on the bottom, however, mean wet feet.
So I took my boys to WalMart-- and they each chose $20 pair of sneakers. There might be plenty of people who look at that and think, 'Well, yeah.' But these are the most expensive shoes I've ever bought my kids. I figure the life of their shoes is 3-6 months maximum-- outgrowing, wearing down-- shoes just don't last for children, so why spend a lot on them? But my boys asked, and as I purchased them and they each got to carry their shoes out, my little boys thanked me for their early Christmas present.
When we got home, they put them on and played, ran around, and rode their bikes for two hours, enjoying and breaking in their new shoes. They're so proud of them, they had to tell their Grandparents all about their Christmas sneakers.
The economy is finally starting to show. Even in our area. And though I try not to talk about it much, we're not immune. A year full of unexpected medical bills, new services, and not planning far enough in the future caught up to us in time for Christmas.
My youngest was asking me this morning about Thanksgiving trees. And I told him that they sort of exist-- that people write what they are thankful for on the paper leaves. And he asked me what I was thankful for-- and I said, "My family, and your Daddy's job. And the benefits of your Daddy's job."
He said he was thankful for all the good things in the world.
I love the way my little boy thinks.
So three weeks ago, I set aside $15 so that I would be able to take my boys shopping at Dollar Tree. We went this morning. I took them one at a time. Their shopping list was short: 1 gift each for Grandmother, Grandma, Grandpa, Daddy, Momma, and Brother. When we headed in the door, I handed him a carry along shopping basket. Then I followed my boys, each in their turn, around the store, playing living grocery list so they knew who the next gift was for.
It took each of my boys about 20 minutes to do their shopping. My oldest would say, "I think this one is perfect for Daddy because he's always trying to find his." My youngest, when it was his turn would take me down an aisle, then say, "Nope. The right present for Grandma isn't in this isle. Lets try the one two over." It was actually very endearing to watch my boys -think- about the gifts they were giving as they searched for just the right ones.
Then when we got home, I headed out to storage and found my Christmas paper and tags stash, as well as my tape. Then took my boys in turn to help them wrap their gifts. My boys wrote the 'To and From' all by themselves. They cut the paper. Wrapped the presents, and put the tape on, with me helping as needed (: And as each present was wrapped and tagged, my boys would dash out of the room to put it under the tree, before coming back to wrap the next one. All the while, closing my bedroom door to keep the surprises so that no one would know what they got for them. (And making me promise to forget what they'd gotten for me.)
So our tree went from being empty, to having 12 presents under it.
I decided to look in my present storage area, without much hope, figuring I had maybe 5 things in total to add to our tree.
And this is where I discovered something else to be thankful for: I tend to start my Christmas shopping in July, as I come across really great sales and discounts. And so my children have 5 presents each under the tree from their Daddy and I. And I have some things to give to my husband. It isn't what he asked for-- because that has to be special ordered online and I can't do it right now. But it's something. And I think they'll make him smile.
And so this afternoon, one week before Christmas, I am thankful that there -are- presents under our tree. And I'm thankful that Santa will be able to come.
But above all, I am thankful for my thoughtful, wonderful little boys, who have finally given me the spirit of Christmas this year and made next Saturday something to look forward to, instead of something to dread.