I drove home tonight from the annual cookie baking day with my parents and my kids thinking that I feel fat, broke and exhausted. Is this the way it's really supposed to be? I truly hope not. I love cookie baking day. I also love tree decorating day and I even kinda like Black Friday. It's the other 23 days that leave me feeling fat, broke and exhausted.
I came home one night last week and stood in my kitchen and cried. I told my husband that if I had to stand in one more check out lane I would officially go postal. At that moment, I meant it. Like I was "buying a gun" serious. Of course I poured a glass of wine, ate a chocolate chip cookie and got a hold of myself. These moments are not memorable, they're self-made stupid.
Self-made because somewhere in time, someone decided to buy the perfect gift, then someone else decided to have the best tree, then some other someone decided to make a better cookie, then some mom in some elementary school threw a great party, then another and another and another until we have one upped and new and improved ourselves into a stupor. Seriously, does my boy need 8 drawers of Legos? Sure, he likes them, but are they memorable? When he grows up and saves the world is he going to stand in front of God and everyone and say, "Because my parents bought me one more Lego set on my list, I was able to save the world. God bless my parents and Lego, for I am blessed beyond measure."
Does anyone else see how absolutely ridiculous this is? My favorite is the gift card exchange. This is when no one really needs anything, but you know you have to buy them something, so you go spend your money at one store for a gift card and they go to another store and buy you a gift card and you wrap it up in nice wrapping that likely costs another 5 bucks and then you exchange them. Seriously! Let's all stand in a circle and pass 25 bucks around and save the 5 dollar gift card holder in the process. Sound like a deal? This may become my one woman movement to eradicate gift cards forever.
I went to visit my 80 something year old grandmother tonight. I helped her finish baking her peanut butter cookies and we had a little chat. She sat at the kitchen table in the farmhouse I grew up in, her smoking her cigarette and me spooning cookies so Pop could have them for breakfast with the dog. Now that's memorable.
She told me about Christmas when she was growing up with her mom and 2 sisters. She told me about her mom worrying that the social services people might not get to them for Christmas. Without social services, there would be no Christmas. Finally around 4 in the afternoon they came. My Grandma got a doll and a head scarf. She remembers what she got for Christmas nearly 80 years ago. She also remembers them bringing a tree but there was nothing to put on it, so her aunt came and brought ornaments. Her aunt had cut up slivers of the foil from cigarette packs and made icicles for the tree. And she had found some red paper and cut little ornaments. She remembers her tree from nearly 80 years ago.
I started thinking about Christmas's that I remember. I remember driving around with my uncle in the van from the family plumbing business and cutting a cedar tree along the side of the road and taking it home for our Christmas tree. I remember moments, not presents.
Interesting isn't it? I've spent so many hours this month thinking, planning, buying and wrapping presents. Presents that most won't remember past Valentine's Day if we're lucky.
I've read so many comments on Twitter, Facebook and personal emails about other moms feeling fat, broke and exhausted yet we continue year after year like a hamster on a wheel. We're busy being busy. I want to get busy making memories. Memories that will last past the last snowfall.
I'm not going to sell my Christmas decorations and burn the stockings in protest, but I'm done on the hamster wheel of retail hell. I'm going to work at being memorable. I've got to find some memories, preferably that don't involve social services, to tell my granddaughter while she stirs my peanut butter cookies in another 40 years. Hell, maybe I'll take up smoking again too.