The kids and I have been talking quite heavily about gifts the past few weeks. ‘Tis the season for whispered conversations in the utility room, squeals and a flurry of movement as doors are slammed on an offending sibling while the other is wrapping their present. Everyone seems to know exactly how much money they have in their possession and spending limits are taken very seriously: “Mom, if the limit is $20, is that $20 before tax or after?”
When the kids were little my husband and I bought the gifts for the kids to give each other. It was easier than trying to take two toddlers and a preschooler to Walmart and make a somewhat pathetic attempt at secrecy. We found it exponentially simpler to go buy color books, hair bows, new markers, a new piece of furniture for the dollhouse and stick it under the tree ourselves.
Now we have two teens and a tween. One drives. My life should’ve just gotten a whole lot of simpler. Then Oklahoma decided to have the snowiest winter in YEARS. Abby’s S-10 pickup doesn’t do so well on the ice rink of a road to our house, so for the past few weeks she's been borrowing my 4WD Durango to do her errands, thus leaving me sitting home not buying presents. Although, the deal was, if I allowed her to use my car, she must take a sibling with her so they could do their shopping as well. I was kind of proud of myself for using that little bargaining tool.
I guess there will never be an “easy” Christmas shopping season for us. When they were little it was a task to keep track of what action figure, Barbie, or Kidz Bop CD they had and pray as I stood in the checkout line that I wasn’t buying a repeat. (If I barely had time to shop before Christmas how on earth was I going to find time after to stand in the return line?) Now I find myself trying to remember if that boy child of mine has a particular tomahawk, knife or military issue whatever. I’m nearly going mad what with trying to remember if girly teen girl’s favorite sweater is more of an aqua or a teal so I can buy her coordinating earrings and bracelets. And we can’t forget the hormonally charged tween who has a shoe size larger than her older sister’s, but feet freakishly narrow and shaped like a rabbit’s foot -- and has only asked for shoes and boots this year.
These years will be fleeting, I know this. In the near future, Christmas gifts will morph into gas cards, mixers, toaster ovens, maybe making a car payment during the holiday season when they themselves are struggling to find the Lego set that every other parent is also searching for - and come up with the money to buy it. I will long for the days of re-decorating the tree after the kids go to bed. I will dream of icing and sprinkles and colored sugar on every surface of my kitchen. I will miss the days of last-minute runs to Walmart for batteries – or 7am runs to a convenience store for batteries when the days before Christmas found us exhausted and scatter-brained and absolutely certain that we had plenty of batteries in the cabinet.
We are creating a new tradition this year. It’s called “together”. We are a homeschooling family and typically spend a lot of time together anyway, but this year on Christmas Eve, the cell phones are going off, the iPads and iPods and smart phones will be put away (if only for a few hours) while we make cookies and cake balls, watch Elf and A Christmas Story (for the umpteenth time) and Christmas Vacation (something the kids have never seen - I'm such a bad mother) while this momma soaks up every single minute of Christmas 2013. I will commit to memory every single giggle, snarky remark, thrown ball of cookie dough, obnoxious burp, joke, snort and awkward teenage sibling hug.
And someday when I am snuggling my own grandchildren, I will remember.
Oh yes, I will remember.