Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Peace in the Holidays

When we are little, all we can think about is what we're going to ask everyone for and what we will get. At some point, when you grow up you are expected to do for everyone else and think about THEIR needs. When you have a family of your own, you now have to worry about your kids, your spouse, their siblings and kids and your own extended family. As I get older I feel more and more responsibility and pressure to get gifts for everyone I know. And not just a gift, the RIGHT gift, the best gift, the most thoughtful gift. This gets harder and harder as most people get older, they have more money and are able to get the things they want themselves. Myself included. So really have a short list of things I want for Christmas (most of them needs that I would have bought myself had it not been the season) and my list for others is even shorter. Last year I bought ornaments that were actually a receipt for the purchase of a tree planted in that person's name. This year, I'm trying to find people's favorite restaurants and get everyone gift certs to eat out. Eating out has always been a luxury for me, more by choice than anything else. I know I can cook a meal for our family of 3-5 for around $10. There is no way we can eat out for anything under $50. So it just doesn't make sense. Same with going to the movies. Because of my frugalness, practicalness or just being insane - we don't eat out or go to the movies a lot. But it is fun and I am more likely to do so if given as a gift. So, that said, that's what most of the people I'm buying for this year are getting.

Aaron and I got out all the Xmas stuff 2 weeks ago and we even put lights up on the outside of the house, something I've always wanted to do. Growing up, we lived on 10 acres so it was silly (according to my Mom) to put lights on the outside of the house that we couldn't enjoy. But now that I live in a subdivision, I enjoy seeing everyone's lights and feel compelled to do my part and hang some. So we did. The tree went up that day and stood bare until last weekend when Dave put the lights on. Monday night, we each chose ornaments that were special and put them on the tree. Over the years, the kids ornaments have grown and there is quite the selection to choose from. Dave's Mom also purchases ornaments for everyone each year, so those are always fun to get out. I write on them each year so someday when the kids are ready for their own tree, they can take all their ornaments and we'll actually remember who's is who's and what year they were given.

In October, when I went to CA for my great Uncle's funeral, I was given all of my grandmother's pictures to scan for a scrapbook I am working on for her. This included pictures of her and my grandfather when they were younger and of course pictures of all 3 of their kids and the 6 grandkids and 3 great grand-kids. 3 days after I finished scanning all those pictures, my Mom sent to boxes (about 40 lbs) of all of her pictures. It was been a lot of fun going through the pictures seeing some that I never knew were even taken. Mom has always had really good intentions and has loved to take pictures, but when it came to sharing them, she sometimes fell short, but I have them all now. Along with that are pictures of my step-dad Leo who passed away in Nov of 2003. It has been very sad looking at pictures of him, always happy, always working and building something. The fact that my he and my Mom met in the Bay Area in 1973 and bought property and moved away from everything and built a house and started a farm is even more amazing to me as an adult than it was living it as a kid. I thought they were crazy then, I think they were amazing, brave, creative and strong now. I miss Leo very much and feel bad that I don't think he knew how much he impacted who I am today. We never had a very good relationship and I feel like I never gave him the credit he deserved. I never appreciated the role as a step-parent until I become one myself a few years ago. It's the toughest job I've ever had, even harder than being a single parent, alone. Leo did the best he could and I was always giving him a hard time - which he didn't deserve. He was amazing with my son and that is probably what I am saddened most by - Aaron will never learn from him and know him the way that I did. One of the pictures was of me changing my oil in my first car. Leo believed that if you were going to drive, you should know how to take care of your car. So there I am, 16 years old, hair done, makeup on wearing a "zumie" suit that he must have brought home from working at Rancho Seco and changing the oil. And there must have been Mom taking a picture. Had it not been for that picture, I wouldn't have remembered doing it, or remembered that it must have been fun. I have in fact, complained about the fact that he made me change my own oil. But how many women know how? Shoot, how many men know how? It's a life skill I will always have (if I need it!). You never know, I may move away from the city someday and start a farm. Happy Holidays and God bless.