Whew! Do you feel it? That sense of well-we-made-it-through-another-holiday?
I've always said it didn't matter when I got together with my kids or any family for that matter, as long as we got to do so. It didn't have to be on the holiday. With so many extended families extending all over the place, I see lots of them taking that attitude and I'm glad to see it. It's just not practical to expect everyone to gather on the actual holiday. But if they can, that is an extra blessing.
I wonder how many of those Gray Thursday or Black Friday gifts have been returned to the stores already? Doesn't it seem a little silly to rush around frantically gathering and gifting only to see so many of them go back the day after Christmas or this weekend?
A shopping trip to buy a gift our younger son had mentioned that he wanted didn't pan out last weekend. I told him that the day we had in mind was probably my only shot to pick it up. He's only 22 but he can be pretty darned wise. He said "Mom, I see people getting all worked up about that stuff. It really doesn't matter. That's what you call a first-world problem."
It's the first time I had heard that expression but it sure did ring true. Just stop and think for a minute about all the things we complain about: So much of it is griping out of an abundance unimaginable to so much of the rest of the world.
This is the first year my husband Brian's brother and wife and Brian and I didn't exchange gifts between the four of us. I remember the very first gift they ever gave me, 36 years ago, when Brian and I were not even engaged. It was a stationery gift with a hot-wax seal element. It was very neat.
We had decided a couple of years ago to stop buying for each others' kids but to keep it going between us. Sometimes we hand off the goods on Thanksgiving but this year I wasn't ready and asked my sister-in-law what she thought about skipping this year's gifting. Linda emailed with the question "I think we've both got more than enough stuff at this point, don't you?"
I agreed, adding that the reason I enjoy the gifting process between us is that it is a vehicle to get together. Sometimes it can happen in a family that if there is not that reason via purchased gifts, it's too easy for the family to just not.
So we decided something this year that I hope will stick. We decided to meet half way between our homes and visit an elderly relative and go out to eat. I think it would be great if every year we can give each other the gift of a Dutch-treat meal around Christmas and possibly some time visiting someone in our lives, like this particular uncle.
Anyway, that about puts a wrap on Christmas 2013. Hope yours was merry and bright.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women, due out on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014.