It’s been a year already for this blog! I can’t believe it. So much has happened in a year. Thanks to those of you who read this 🙂
I’m not a Christmas person, that’s no secret. I hate the glut of it all. I hate the fact that Christmas decorations come out as soon as Back-to-School is done and Christmas music starts November 1st. I hate the fact that I’m writing about Christmas before Halloween. Every year it’s more, more, more. And with that comes obligation and pressure to buy gifts, buy the best gifts, buy the right gift, spend enough “quality time” with people you may or may not like, do the baking, go to the concert, send cards, do a family photo, visit Santa… More. More. More. Gimme. Gimme. Gimme.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things there I enjoy doing. More so when I can do them on my own terms and not when I feel pressured to be more festive or be a better parent but, still, I am learning to get some enjoyment out of the little things. Sadly, this is a vast improvement over when I wasn’t a step-parent.
The biggest struggle I have is that a big Christmas goes against everything I believe as a parent. I don’t believe in spoiling children. I believe that they need to earn things and appreciate gifts and be grateful for what they have. In reality, the kids compare what they got at our house with what their friends got, what their mom gave them, the things they wanted and didn’t get. I know Curtis worries about coming up short and the kids choosing their mom. They literally and truly do not play with one single thing they got last year. Does that mean we failed at Christmas?
It’s no secret that my step-kids are spoiled. Their mom spoils them and buys them whatever the want – and only the best of the best. Something we could never dream of affording, and probably wouldn’t do (I hope) even if we could. Seriously, what kid needs two bikes at one house? Her mom also spoils them. And so does Curtis’ mom. And his sister. The kids basically expect a gift when family comes to visit. I try to reign it in and it’s a little better, but they are all still always ready with toys, treats, and candy. And the kids act spoiled, they have full-on temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. They act out when they’re “bored” (i.e. they’re not allowed on their ipads). They expect to get what they want, when they want it, or we will pay the price. I’ve started taking pictures of them when they do this (which they don’t like) to show them what it looks like. It’s helped a little, I guess. It also helps me to laugh at it, instead of getting frustrated. Here are a few of my favourites.
My father-in-law passed away recently and my mother-in-law said he wanted the kids to have a big Christmas gift. So I agreed that she can buy the kids the $3,000 four-wheeler they want and say it’s from him. I thought that was reasonable, given my thoughts on spoiling kids. Then we would attempt to go back to what I tried last year – One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear, one thing they read. If we all did that, they would still get 20 presents each. 20 presents each?!?!? Plus a four-wheeler. Are. You. Kidding. Me? It didn’t work last year, his sister bought about 5 presents to go into each of the 4 presents so they actually got about 40 presents each. And this was less than normal. Yikes.
This morning, my M-I-L started talking about going Christmas shopping this weekend with Curtis’ sister and all the toys the kids want. I mentioned that we wanted to stick with the 4-gift rule again (remember, 20 presents each) … and she ignored that and kept talking. When I said I guess I can’t actually enforce that, she laughed. When I got in the car to go to work, the anxiety kicked in. This is everything I hate about Christmas and everything I am against as a parent. So what do I do? I can’t be a part of that. With every fibre of my being, I can’t. Curtis and I already fight about Christmas. Our fight last year was so bad I wasn’t sure we were going to make it through the holidays… So I asked him to gently remind them about our plan for Christmas (aside from the four-wheeler) or, instead, if all of them want to have this big, unregulated Christmas, I’m can’t do it.. He’s in charge of all things Christmas – the presents, the decorating, the wrapping (but NO credit card purchases we can’t pay off right away).
Honestly, I feel bad about it – not about limiting them, I’m not sorry about that, I’m upset that I put Curtis in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s well-covered territory that his family will not listen to me. So in the middle he goes. And, being the good man he is, he chose my side. So we can try to avoid fighting through Christmas and so we can enjoy Christmas as a family.
Today I actually googled about spoiling kids at Christmas to see if I’m overreacting. To see if I should just chill out and let the gluttony being. What harm am I really doing in going along with the bacchanalia? Am I doing more harm by refusing them and will it push them towards their mother? Am I really doing them any good in being so stingy? Will they learn any lessons from this? The truth is that I don’t know. But I feel I have to try. And I also feel like the worst person ever.
So… here’s to being the Grinch and hating another Christmas. Fingers crossed it does them some good in the end.