Dec 24, 2006

Does Christmas have to change with kids?

This is our first Christmas at home in five years. It was Mexico in 2001, San Francisco in 2002, Mexico again in 2003, and again in 2004, then Miami last year....

...So it feels interesting and different to be here at Christmas, and maybe it's the coming baby, but we both seem to be seeing Christmas this year through the eyes of parents -- we're suddenly noticing that our laid back friends who have kids all seem to have these very high expectations of what Christmas should be (including how the grandparents should act, etc...) and they seemed to be getting their kids so many gifts. It is as if they see this as THE time to create absolutely picture-perfect family magical memories... and I guess in hearing their stories, I find myself questioning what Christmas will be like for me when I am the parent of one or more small children. Will I change?

At the moment, we don't really do holiday gifts for anybody...we really never have. It may sound 'grinchy' but it is actually incredibly freeing. Between our families, we usually exchange one gift pollyanna-style within each immediate family. And of course, we buy some small gifts for our two-year old niece...usually books or music. But that is about it.

I feel that we're fortunate that our families agree that Christmas is special when we spend time together, not when we get and give gifts. But will kids change all that? Will we get caught up in the rampant consumerism that Christmas becomes for so many families with young kids? Will our Christmas traditions suddenly grow to enormous proportions where I feel compelled to make lots of cookies and get them tons of presents for the kids so their memories can compete with the movies and books and their friends?

The New York Times had some great articles on Christmas and the gift giving frenzy -- one I liked in particular was How do you Outgrow a 13 foot tree? ...Now I can't ever see myself taking the trouble to leave gifts on our roof but it illustrates the absurd levels some people will go to in order to make Christmas this really magical time for their kids. To me, the magic can be simpler than that...but to each their own.