When one of The Barracuda's friends came over the other day, he was incredulous to find out that we don't do Christmas. What? He quickly recovered and responded with a Happy Hanalla (Hanukkah). The Barracuda told him we didn't do that either. This was about when I started to really listen. The interaction was fabulous.
"Oh, like you do Christmas somewhere else. Just not here in your house. You go somewhere for Christmas."
"But all those times that your mom leaves without you, she is getting presents and stuff....right?"
The Barracuda was beginning to get concerned.
"Like, your parents go away by themselves all the time right now so they can get you stuff."
"But, God killed his son so we can have presents! Jesus wants you to have them. He came back to life to celebrate presents!" I LOVE this 8 year old logic. I love it so much!
At this point both boys came out of The Barracuda's room with very bewildered looks on their faces. The Barracuda was concerned that Symon's mom was leaving him places and that God was killing his son and no one was doing anything about either. Symon was highly worried The Barracuda was being greatly abused by not getting enough stuff. After all, Jesus wanted him to have presents so much there was a resurrection. What kind of bizarre heathens were we?!
This has always been a hard one for people, and not just kids. In fact, kids are usually the easiest to explain it to.
In our family, we celebrate Solstice. The earth is resting and so are we, gearing up for the craziness of the coming Spring season. We spend time together as a family and are reminded that loved ones will always be with you for support during the darker times of the year, as well as the darker times of your life. Family all get together and we eat, and eat, and eat. There is laughter, and playing, and reminder we have all come a long way. There are 4 separate times when different configurations of family all get together. Even my father has given up the tree and piles of presents after really seeing how much nicer it was to be stress free.
For Solstice, we get one present for the entire family (technically the Barracuda gets 3 if you count each party). The present must be something which brings us closer together as a family and can be enjoyed by everyone. It must also be something which will last at least one year. This year, The Barracuda and I went to a dance camp on Solstice and learned more dances which we can do together in the evenings. The Barracuda also added that his dad coming home was part of our Solstice celebration as well. Jules' absence has been hard for him.
My extended family (and that is a whole lot of people) get together for a giant potluck and all children under 8 (The Youngin's) receive a hand made present from "The Grandparents." This includes every family member who is a grandparent. By having everyone work on everybodies, it reinforces the idea that it doesn't matter how we are related, we are family and that is all that matters. All the "Youngin's" get basically the same thing. The gift is never large or lavish, but very well thought out. Last year they got quilts which folded up into pillows. The Barracuda sleeps with his every night and refuses to use anything else. I worry every time I wash it.
This year he got a handmade box which is specifically designed to hold all his Hotwheels and 4 new cars. It is his favorite color, has his name on it, and he can carry it like a briefcase. He LOVES it. The female Youngin's got portable walk in closets for their dolls complete with a new hip wardrobe. The Grandparents work on these gifts for a good portion of the year and the Youngin's are always very excited. It also removes the burden from the parents who are busy parenting and making holiday food, and gives us lots of inspiration for when we become one of the elite "Grandparent" club. I remember being a Youngin and very much look forward to becoming a Grandparent.
My mother has come in from Dubai (located in the United Arab Emirates. Really close to Saudi Arabia) and hasn't seen The Barracuda for a year and a half. We will visit her for dinner on Christmas Eve. My father, his girlfriend, and my brother will be together at our house on Christmas to eat again. Lots of eating, and lots of cooking, and lots of talking. It's a good time. For years growing up I never thought I could do that with my father or my extended family, so this is a very welcome change. To me, family is a much better present than anything in the store.