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Monday
Dec192011

Christmas without Consuming: A Love Letter to Christmas

I'm not sure when I first fell in love with Christmas.

I loved it as a child in the way children love it. I loved the presents and the anticipation. I loved Santa and surveying my loot on Christmas afternoon. The Christmas morning I awoke to Barbie's dream house is one I will never forget. The year I received Barbie AND all her Rockers still holds a special place in my heart. In fact, Barbie seems to play an intimate roll in all my favorite holiday memories but that's probably another post in and of itself. The most important part is that the magic of receiving is something I understood very early.

Sarah and the RockersHowever, as I got older, I also remember that aspect of Christmas losing its luster. In high school, I remember being jealous of the presents some of my friends received. Or - God save me - being disappointed when my parents hadn't bought me that trendy pair of jeans or entire Estee Lauder make up line.

It wasn't until I got married that I really started seeing things differently. Suddenly, Christmas belonged to me. I wasn't celebrating someone else's Christmas. I was creating my own. It was then I realized even the best present couldn't compete with sneaking around with my parents to crown the best holiday lights in our neighborhood or standing in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center with my husband.

Don't get me wrong. Last year I unwrapped an iPad on Christmas morning and it was awesome. I squealed with delight and cradled my new toy like a baby. I don't want to give the impression to my family and friends that I don't like presents. I LOVE presents. I think I've just learned that the magic of the season doesn't happen with the first tearing of wrapping paper.

I fall in love with Christmas in a million little ways before Santa ever leaves the North Pole. It happens when I pull Griffin's baby first Christmas ornament out of the box for the first time that year or when I see Ralphie Parker's face light up when he unwraps his Red Ryder BB Gun. It happens when I take that first sip of eggnog or get the first Christmas card in the mail. And if it snows? Forget it. My feet won't hit the ground the rest of the year.

What I've had to learn this year is that these fantastic moments don't have to cost money either. There's magic in the email Christmas cards and homemade gifts. I don't have to fly to New York to feel that holiday buzz. I feel it every morning Griffin asks if he can do "the calendars" (we might have three advent calendars) or when I turn the corner and see our house lit up with lights.

Watching the Christmas ParadeMaybe this journey is just part of growing up but I would love for my children to see the all the magic of the season - not just what happens on Christmas morning. It's hard though. As a parent, I want to give Griffin and Amos the same toy-soaked bacchanalia I always had. Even in the midst of Christmas without Consuming, I've had to remind myself that Griffin won't be disappointed if he gets a plain race car instead of a Lightening McQueen one. I don't want to take away from them the special joy of seeing that Santa has brought you everything you asked for.

I just hope they understand that there is joy to be found beyond that.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland 

Reader Comments (1)

I love this piece, and can relate to it in so many ways -- from the many Barbie-filled Christmas mornings to the eventual realization that it isn't all about buying and receiving. There's a great essay by Zadie Smith that touches on experiencing your parents' holidays as an adult.

December 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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