It was the first holiday in over a decade that I did not go to bed filled with a sense of longing for a "real" holiday. Making my own agenda and celebrating with likeminded people made the day much more gratifying.
I gather all the Christmas card photos we received in the mail and slowly peruse them, an undertaking I never have time for during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I see smiling children, and increasingly I find myself thinking, 'Who are these kids?'
The second act is watching the joy my wife gets being around her two girls... or the pride I get when they grab my hand to hold it just one more time. The second act is teaching them to ride bikes, watching them play with their toys, seeing them grow out of each little outfit.
This year, we went to Playa del Carmen, made the varsity cross country team, and scored a gorgeous goal from 20 yards out. But really, that's not all that impressive. What's impressive is what we endured, survived, and supported each other through despite it all.
This isn't all your fault, Santa. The focus on girls' appearance to the exclusion of everything else is so deeply entrenched in our culture that we often don't know what else to say to them. Despite our best intentions, we have no frame of reference to engage with girls on any level other than the superficial.
As I frantically search Amazon for the perfect Lady Bug costume that isn't too itchy, has antennas and comes with a tutu (but not a black one, only red), I can't help but feel conflicted. Gifts are a huge part of the exhilaration children feel at Christmas, but I don't want it to be limited to that.
Now, she is 10 years old. A fifth grader. None of her friends believe in Santa anymore. My husband and I struggle with how long to keep this up.
Instead of showering your kids with a pile of this year's hot clothes, toys and electronics (which, let's face it, will probably be collecting dust by the end of the school year), make it a tradition to give your kids the gift of a memorable holiday experience