December 29, 2014

A Mixed Bag

That's how I'd describe the holidays.  On the upside, I followed through with our Christmas traditions and even managed to add a new one:

The boys made a gingerbread house with grandpa on Christmas Eve day
Elves filled their stockings while we were at church that night

After decades searching for the recipe, I made my  favorite cookie from scratch

The boys kept their promise to wait upstairs until 6 am Christmas morning.  Everything was unwrapped by 6:30 am.  By 7:30, they tired of their gifts and  wanted to play Angry Birds on the iPad.  I know they liked their presents, especially this one, but I noticed a lack of enthusiasm that day.  Henry had written "every Lego set" on his Christmas list and received a bunch, yet he didn't seem overly excited.  Maybe that's because the boys had also listed new iPads (one for each) and a kitten, hamster, guinea pig, and rabbit on their lists.  None of these appeared under our tree.  Just old-fashioned building toys, hot wheels, character tees, and jigsaw puzzles.  Oh the boys also asked for Snackeez cups of  tv commercial fame.  I went from store to store and  purchased two at full price just so I could choose their colors.  (If you order online at a discount, they send random colors.)  The cups were used once on Christmas and now sit abandoned under the tree with all the other untouched loot.

Since the big day, the boys have occupied themselves by spending time on our (old) iPad and watching Angry Bird dvds. (Okay, those were in their stockings--I guess there's one gift I got right.)  On weekends and vacations, I only allow a half hour of iPad in the morning and another half hour after dark but it's quite a battle getting the screen out of their hands.  

Mostly, I've felt like a drill sergeant this holiday week.  "Stop eating candy."  "Turn off that game."  "Read a book."  "Your time is up, let your brother have a turn."  "Don't eat on the couch."  "No more snacks before dinner."  Each admonishment is met with a groan and a stomp.  Apparently, I'm so mean.

Of course the holidays are a time when emotions are heightened and the past seems very present.  This holiday marks the end of a year in which I lost two loves of my life.  It was their time.  They are no longer suffering.  But, oh, my world is a sadder place without them.

I felt quite alone as I prepared for this Christmas present.  I would have liked someone to keep my company as I wrapped, decorated, cleaned, baked and cooked.  I think there's a reason women in large families congregate in the kitchen.  Yes, many hands make light work but you can't discount the value of companionship as one goes about holiday tasks.

It's easier to dip into depression when you are tackling all the chores by yourself.  I definitely sank low a couple of times.  Once when, after six straight hours in the kitchen on Christmas Day, I finally had time to sit down and join the boys on the sofa.  They refused to turn off Angry Birds and watch a holiday special with me.  I left the room in tears.  That was minor compared to the buckets I cried yesterday.  I couldn't even finish reading Arthur's Perfect Christmas.  The isolation, power-struggles and lack of appreciation just got to me--I couldn't get over how the boys didn't even make an attempt to give me a Christmas gift.  The tears fell and fell.

I know they are young, so young, but there was nothing from them.  Nothing.  I would have been happy if they wrapped up a can of Pepsi and put it under the tree.  Just something.  Something that said, we want to give you something because you give us so much.  You give us everything.  All your money, all your time, all your energy.  So here's a can of soda.  Enjoy.  But no, there was nothing.  Just stacks of dirty dishes, piles of dirty clothes, mounds of cardboard boxes and wrapping paper, along with trails of crumbs/candy wrappers.  

This too shall pass.  I know there is no material gift to rival the presence of these two children in my life.  It's a miracle in so many ways.  But truth be told, that knowledge does nothing to cut the exhaustion and emotion at this time of year.

A mixed bag indeed.


  1. I remember once, when I was about 10, my dad asked me (on Christmas Eve) "What did you get your mother for Christmas?" I was devastated. It never occurred to me to get her something - and once I realized it should have, I felt so bad.

    But the truth is, it's hard at a young age to think of that sort of thing. And one of the hard things about being single is that there's no one to say, "hey, what did you get your mom?"

    It's so hard.

  2. I'm sorry it was a hard Christmas for you. It hurts not to be appreciated & I wish me telling you that someday they will would make it better now, but I know it doesn't. They are still young & not able to see beyond themselves.

  3. I'm a single mom ( I have a 4 year old daughter and 4 month old twin boys) and a child development friend told me this year before Christmas to not take it personally if she doesn't like her presents (my 4 year old, not the babies) because that's what happens a lot. And to just get her 3-4 presents because they get overwhelmed at this age. I understand about being lonely at Christmas. If I lived near you, we could have cooked together!