For the first time in many, many years I am truly excited this Christmas season. I was talking to my mom last night and realized it is probably the first time I have been this excited for Christmas since I was a kid. Most of my pre-kid days had me working on Christmas day because I “didn’t have a family”. I resented it in my earlier 20s, but actively sought to work as much as possible in my later 20s when infertility and miscarriages had me progressively going from not terribly excited, to apathetic, to downright hating the holiday season. I wanted to work because it kept my mind busy on work instead of how sad I was. The last few years have gotten better because we have kids, but money has always been so tight and Zane didn’t seem to really “get” Christmas until he actually saw the presents under the tree…even then, he had to be shown to open the gifts. He had no sense of anticipation, although he did enjoy things we did. Last year, was absolutely one of the hardest Christmases we have had. Zane and Zach were both sick and I was in the hospital with Zora, both of us trying to recover from birth, and her wrapped in a bili blanket and struggling with blood sugar and eating issues. It was rough. We hadn’t been able to shop for Christmas due to money and my health, and my extended family was also having a rough year. We ended up not having the big family Christmas at all and just had Zane open his presents one quiet morning in January. Most of his presents were from his grandparents, with a few hot wheels cars and activity books thrown in from us. We tried to make it as nice of a holiday as we could, and it was nicer than we thought it would be because of the generosity of people in our lives, but it sure wasn’t the kind of Christmas you dream about. (Please don’t misunderstand…we truly were grateful for the wonderful gifts from last Christmas and some of the help likely saved our lives…help with gas money to go to doctors, ect…it was just a hard year emotionally)
This year, in contrast, is rich with excitement, activities, and about perfect. (the only thing that would make it better is if we were in our own house, but we know that that will come in time, and that hope and optimism makes the present seem just fine). For the first time, we are able to buy our kids gifts from our own paycheck instead of my folks having to help out just so we can have a Christmas. It is the first Christmas we aren’t on food stamps since Zane was born, so we can shop for our food where we want instead of having to plan around the stores that accept food stamps. We are going to be a little tight money wise because we didn’t realize Amazon charges when they ship instead of when we order it (and we made one last purchasing round there that we wouldn’t have if we had realized the money hadn’t been taken out of our account yet..whoops!), but Zach also got paid for a grad school project and that will help us squeak by with some adjustments in our budget. (like not printing up our final part of our parent’s Christmas gifts (photo albums) or paying for postage until the paycheck on the 29th for his dad and waiting to see if his mom is going to make it out here in early January and waiting until then to give her gift to her)
This was also the first year, in many years, we were able to afford to send Christmas cards out. In previous years, we couldn’t afford both the cards (even cheap ones) *AND* postage. This year, we actually, for the first time, took a family photo, and were able to get a package that included not only some prints for us, but some photos we could send out AND a photo Christmas Card. It had been so long since we had been able to send out cards we didn’t even have current addresses on most people and had a paniced round of calling up parents to find out addresses. lol. Plus, we were able to print up Zora’s birth announcement and send it out too (at least I got it done before she turned 1. sad second child syndrome…Zane’s were out much, much sooner) On an embarrassing note, I also finally got all of my thank-yous out for Zora’s birth. I had to toss all of the original thank-yous since I had a chunk of them done but they were hideously late at this point. I felt like such a heel not getting them out sooner, but at least I have them done now. Some people are getting quite the stuffed envelope from us this Christmas.
The reason for it being such a great Christmas, though, is not the financial one. It is because it is the first time Zane has truly anticipated the holiday. He wanted the Christmas tree up before we had it out, he knows the names of the nativity ‘characters’, he seems to understand the nativity story, he seems to get what Santa is, at least on a basic level, and he seems to be understanding the concepts of gifts a little better. He has enjoyed craft projects and draws Christmas stuff, and has been fascinated, instead of scared, of the Christmas decorations(i.e. mechanical santas/reindeer/big displays). It is so much fun! We have been able to go see Christmas lights for the first time because we can actually get him to look the right direction when we see something, and he really enjoys the outings to see the lights we have been on. I don’t know if everybody feels that level of joy seeing their kids enjoying the little things, but the wait for him to enjoy it has made it all the sweeter for us.
We feel so blessed and joyful and appreciative that we are able to have such a wonderful holiday and healthy family. I could just burst I am so happy. We are all breaking out into song and dance as we go around our days…it is just overflowing and wonderful. My Christmas wish is that everybody can enjoy their lives this much. *content sigh*