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The Isaaks are recovering from Christmas and I’m sure much of the

Caroline and Cole helping me make cookies.

nation and world are doing the same.  Today, my parents left to go back home to Michigan so the craziness is officially over.  Phew!  There is

Uncle Jon, Cole, and Myles watching the Bears game, day after Christmas

something about having them here that puts the kids in a constant state of giddiness so when they leave, it’s literally like a meth addict going cold turkey.  Not only did they have Grammy and Grampy, but my brother, Uncle Jon was here as well, so there was always an adult entertaining one of them at all times.  Great for me, as I didn’t have to be the entertainer, but horrible for me after they leave.

They were AWFUL today.  And so was I.  I literally had no patience for the whining (thanks to over-tiredness) and arguing with me whenever I said “no” to a huge chocolate Santa at 9am.  I know, I’m a horrible mother.  What’s better to wash down your Cheerios with than a chocolate bar?  I can just hear their teeth rotting and their organs going into overdrive to keep up with the sugar input. *shudder*

I was not a good Mommy today.  I admit it.  At least, I wasn’t from 11am to about 2pm.  I myself wanted to throw down and have myself a good old fashioned tantrum.  I am very thankful that my husband was home at the time and told me, “Go.  Go somewhere.  Get out of here.  Clear your head”.  So off I went.  Without a shred of guilt.  I had one split second of “maybe I can take ONE kid with me”, but then I realized that I needed some alone time.  Some quiet.  Some time to think.  Some time to just…be.

So I went to Target.  Why wouldn’t I go there to clear my head?  Hel-LO?!?  It’s the happiest place on earth.  I bet you thought Disney was.  But Disney would sort of require me to go with my children.  Target does not.  So I wandered the aisles slowly.  To others, I’m sure I looked brain-dead and slack-jawed, but that’s because I WAS brain-dead and slack-jawed.  The longer I wandered, the more my brain seemed to thaw, and my grip on reality seemed to tighten.  I know.  Target.  It sounds loser-y, doesn’t it?  But I bet I’m not the only one.  Remember my post on Costco?  Yep.  Target is a more frequent haunt of mine.  And while there are no free samples, there ARE aisles and aisles of stuff that I like to look at.

Here’s how I generally do a Target trip.  Or any shopping trip really.  I get my cart, and I wander.  I put stuff in cart that I like.  I keep wandering.  I put more stuff in the cart that I like.  Then once I’ve completed a full circulation of the store, I do it again, and put back 90-100% of the stuff I had in the cart.  THAT is my retail therapy.  I am not a buyer.  I am a “store renter”.  By the time I’ve made a full circe, I have the wherewithall to realize that I don’t need the stuff in my cart.  But sometimes I do purchase a few items, and that’s nice and lovely.  But I don’t have to live with the “WHY did I buy this?  I do not need this!” guilt.

I returned home from my Target de-stressifyer and came home to calm children.  Hubby had settled in on the couch with them to watch and movie and the down time seemed to kick the naughty out of them.  This time.  But I was grateful.  And my alone time (all 2.45 hours of it!!) gave me the break I needed to love them better.  I donned my snowpants, boots, coat and gloves and headed out in the snow with the older two (Myles still HATES being out in the snow – but who can blame him?  He’s like Randy from “A Christmas Story”), and we built snowmen, had snowball fights, went sledding, and participated in a bit of Greco-Roman snow wrestling.  Now they’re both whooped pups, so an early bedtime shall be instituted.  Huzzah!

Here’s hoping tomorrow will be a bit better for this Christmas hangover.

Have a peek at a few more Christmas pics:

The morning's haul

Pillow Pets. They LOVE them. Who knew?

Oy. This one was as big as she is.

His face is pretty priceless.

The Monday before Christmas and we’re in full swing preparing for The Big Day. Christmas is my favorite time of year, with the decorations, the songs, the lights, the traditions…it’s fantastic.  Christmas as a parent is so much different than it was when I was growing up.  As a kid, Christmas is glorious, free of worry and philisophical thinking.  Your job is to attempt to sleep on Christmas Eve, wait as long as you can before you creep downstairs in the morning to look at the haul under the tree.  Then it’s a flurry of paper and toys and wishes come true.

Christmas is so much more complicated as an adult.  Not only are there the to-do lists that seem endless, but I am faced with the responsibility to teach my kids what Christmas is actually about.  And it’s not “magic” or “togetherness” or “family” or “being kind to others” or “giving”.  Those things are all really nice and great things to teach kids, but Christmas is about the birth of Christ is it not?  Yes, it’s true that celebrating in December is not historically accurate and that “the church” changed the date in order to compete with the pagan rituals surrounding winter solstice.  That’s not what I’m interested in talking about.  Whatever the reason for Christmas being in December, it’s still a celebration of the birth of God’s son.  The Messiah.  Though Christ’s true purpose is not fulfilled until his 33rd year on earth (Easter, folks, the death and resurrection of Jesus – I know you know already, but just had to say it), that purpose wouldn’t have happened if he never arrived on earth.

Here’s the dilemma, I am not saying that I don’t want my kids to have all of those lovely things associated with Christmas.  I want them to experience that feeling of wonder and anticipation Christmas morning.  But because this is a day to remember my Savior’s birth, I don’t want them to wake up to a gigantic pile of presents.  I know for sure that the “magic” of Christmas can exist with just a few gifts – like, say, two or three.  I despise the insistence of some people to indulge their children with whatever they ask for.  In fact, the more gifts a kid gets, the more they expect.  And each year, they know they’re going to get a ton of stuff, and that knowledge turns to the expectation, the expectation to entitlement.  And frankly, THEN the “magic” dies.  Because Christmas is just about “time to open the stuff I asked for”.  There is no wonder, no curiosity of “What will show up from my list”?

I would go into the injustices of the world, and how this Christmas there will be people who are hungry, kids who have no tree much less anything underneath it, people dying and children who have no family at all to celebrate with.  I would go into it, but really, it’s a post for another time.

So I guess I just want us to think about how much we give and why.  Is the sweater that you know she’ll return worth it?  How about the toy she just as to have, but will be broken or forgotten about within a month?  Can’t we get back to simplicity and humility and “indulge” in the wonder and magic of that?  I can remember maybe five Christmas gifts from my childhood.  What I DO remember is the quiet of sitting beneath the Christmas tree when the only light is from the hundreds of lights on it, reveling in those moments of peace before everyone is awake and the gift opening begins.  I DO remember the the anticipation of spending an entire day with family, enjoying each other, playing games, watching movies, and sharing the day’s meals together.  So if the time  with family and the beauty of my surroundings is what I remember, why do people think that the “magic” lies in the stuff under the tree?

I want to teach my kids that this day is about Jesus’ birth, and how we should look to his entrance into the world as inspiration for what we give.  He arrived in the most humble of ways.  It’s a story of true “magic” and wonder and should inspire the deepest thankfulness in our hearts.  If I want my kids to really learn the beauty of that, why would I choose to buy buy buy stuff stuff stuff?  I am choosing to reject the commercialism and embrace humility and thankfulness.  Humility in the amount of gifts, and thankfulness by being sure that we spend time in gratitude for what we did give.