my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

December 25th, 2012

On Holidays and Happiness

There’s nothing like the holidays to ramp up that sense of wonder my toddler has about the world these days. When he stands on his little green stool, pulls open the interior window pane and shouts, “Look at the Christmas lights!” at the top of his lungs, I get a little gooey inside. Moments like that make it easy to love this time of the year. Not even watching/reading¬† Frosty the Snowman for the eighty-billionth time can dampen my spirit. There are traditions that we’re starting, whether it’s just having a tree (even if it was a houseplant last year), or stockings, we’re working hard to keep it small and manageable, and that’s not easy.

Our son is beloved, as he should be, by grandparents and great-aunts and uncles, by cousins and extended family, and their natural inclination is to spoil him. And trust me when I say this, he’s got enough–enough clothes, enough toys, enough stuff to last him a good little while. Most of it has come to us second hand. Among my friends and family, our son was the youngest kid for a while, so we received a lot of gently used, happily welcomed stuff into our home. We have boxes of clothes in the basement for him to grow into. He has boots, snowsuits, trucks, musical instruments, books upon books upon books, and maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t think he needs any more. He’s just as happy playing with a pile of Popsicle sticks as he is an expensive automated blinking toy. So my response to birthdays, to holidays, has been to tell my entire family, ‘please, no presents.’

It takes training and discipline to not give in to the urge to spoil. To explain that ‘buying’ doesn’t equal celebrating. This isn’t about being stingy or Scrooge-like, we’re happy to splash out for a delicious meal to thank our friends and family this time of the year. We revel in a giant, stupidly expensive organic, happily-raised and well-fed turkey. But it’s the sitting down, the talking, the enjoying one another’s company that makes the holidays special, not the stuff. We all have too much stuff, piles of things we don’t use that we either paid too much for or regret buying, and I don’t want to raise my boy into a world where he equates stuff with happiness. Sure, we’ve gotten him a couple presents from Santa, but he’s two–he doesn’t know the difference between a $3.00 garbage truck we found at Value Village or at a garage sale and $75.00 one that came brand-new from the big box toy store.

I’m not saying this is easy for me, he’s my only child, I have to check myself regularly when it comes to keeping my own spoiling¬† urges under control. And there are things that I do every year that I think are important, like adopting an animal or two from the WWF, but it stops there, and trust me when I say that it’s hard for me not to give into my urge to buy and buy and buy. But when it’s fifteen degrees in December, and there’s no snow for the second winter in a row, and the world looks and feels so different than how I remember it, it gets a little easier not to spend the money. Our tree’s potted, we’re going to plant it up at the cottage in the summer. Santa will make an appearance, we’ve got an advent calendar, traditions are important, our family is important, the stuff will always be secondary. At least, I hope…

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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