Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Got Nothing

Midway into a phone conversation with my mom...()my mother will be represented by the shark)

What do the kids want for Christmas?

You can do whatever you feel like doing. If you want to send a present, I can ask them what they might like. If you want to wait until you see them, you can do that to. If you want to stick a couple of bucks in their college savers, that would be great. Whatever you feel like doing Mom, we aren't doing much for Christmas this year.

What do you mean, not doing much for Christmas.

We've been scaling back every year and we decided last year that we weren't going to buy anything this year.

Not even from Santa?

Mom, the big kids know about Santa and the baby doesn't know the difference.

I can't imagine why you would deny the children Santa.

Well Mom, neither husband nor I are Christian, so there's that. I appreciate the intended sentiment of the season so we are trying to enjoy that with out all the consumerist stuff. The kids have so much, really they don't need anything.

Well, it's not about needing something.

I understand, but I gave probably a thousand dollars worth of toys and books to baby's pre school. The kids have too much stuff and what Christmas has become, the stress and shopping and obligation and all that, husband and I don't enjoy it and it's not the message we want to send the kids.

So you told middle child there is no Santa?

No, oldest asked us about presents and we said we weren't going to buy them this year but that a bunch of the grandmas and grandpas would be sending some gifts. Middle child asked about Santa and we asked her where she thought those presents actually came from. She said mom and dad. We said yes, and that Santa is a feeling, a feeling in our heart that we want to do nice things for people we love. We told the kids that in lieu of stuff, they were going to each get a day during our break to direct the events and that we would do whatever they wanted to, play games, go to the beach, do crafts... and that one day would be spent doing something mom and dad wanted to do like go visit great grandma. They were excited about it.


This is the conversation that sent me back to therapy. It was a long time coming so not entirely about Christmas gifts.

So, I seethed after this conversation and my internal dialogue went something like this,

"fuck you, fuck you and fuck you for judging me. Christmas with you and dad sucked donkey dick and now I'm a bad mom because I don't want to buy my kids thirty shitty, plastic toys each from Big Lots and Target? I'm a bad mom because I don't think love equals buying a bunch of stuff? I spent Christmas every year from age 6 on shuttled back and forth between parents and families, perpetually disappointing everyone by either arriving late or leaving early and then when I was finally sixteen, I got to do that 50 mile, icy fucking Wisconsin road, whiteknuckled trip all by myself. Merry fucking Christmas, because of that I hate Christmas. How dare you, "Hmmm" me when I get up every morning and I am present for my kids, and I deal with my stress and do the painful work of working my shit out rather than drinking it down or directing it toward them. Fuck you for thinking you did it better because you sucked and you are about five minutes away from getting completely cut off, x'd out, erased."

What does my mom do after our conversation?

Get online at Walmart and order about fifteen things each for the kids, send me an email saying she knows it's "so much trouble" but can I wrap the stuff and give it to the kids. I told husband this was "affection-aggressive" like passive aggressive but trying to take control of the situation by what seems like an affectionate act. It was not, I am certain of that.

So, I have more to talk to the therapist about, yay for me!


  1. 1) Your planned Christmas sounds so much better than shopping and a surfeit of trash. If I were a Christian, I would hate what Christmas has become for the vast majority of people. As it is, I just hate it, full stop.

    2) Watching the Christmas adverts on tv this year has led me to conclude that the Spanish must smell bad, live in smelly homes, and that most women are going to get an iron and/or a vacuum cleaner along with their perfume and air freshners. How far can you get from the meaning of Christmas?

    3) I haven't celebrated Christmas for nearly 30 years, but - gulp - I'm visiting my elderly parents this year (also for the first time in 30 years...), and the impending trip has been the elephant in my head since I bought the plane ticket. They may be elderly, but they haven't lost their ability to go for the jugular.

    4) Being a daughter is probably my least successful relationship, and I've had some humdingers in my time :).

    5) I shall probably need therapy in January...

  2. Cat: And you said you can't write (or something like that). No, wait, you said the things you had to write about weren't worth writing about (or something like that). And yet...that thing up there about seeing your parents for the first time in 30 years. WRITE!

  3. Oy vey, Rubes. What's her schtick, eh? Nice.

  4. Oy vey," to quote MG. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only Christian in my little corner of the worldwide web.

    The thing I've never understood is why so many non-Christians go through the whole tree, shopping, decorating, gift-giving hassle. Truly--why do you do that? ("you" in the universal sense--not anyone here specificially.) It rings just as false as me having a menorah or prayer mat or Festivus Pole.

    Ruby--I think it's great that you're not doing some fakey Christmas thing, and really, you're showing more about the real Christmas spirit than half the people decorated to the hilt out there.

    What Christmas is now sucks and it's harder and harder for me to hold on to the spark of what it really means. Fanning that flame is hard. What I have to do is tune out all of external bullshit and tune in the sacred Christmas music--the traditional carols are what keep the spirit going for me.

    Not the Lifetime movies.
    Not the hideous sweaters.
    Not Grandma Got Fucking Run Over by a Reindeer.

    For me it's all God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen and Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

    I hate that Ruby's mother (hereafter known as Jaws) is using Christmas to open a wound. Unfortunately, she's not the first, and she certainly won't be the last.

  5. What I don't understand is how you channeled me while writing this post.

    People look at me like I'm nuts when I say I hate Christmas and that we're not putting up a tree.

    Um, hello? This is the direct result of being shuttled back and forth between 2-3 families every year and never having a penny to buy and still feeling guilty as hell to this day because I can't afford to buy for 40+ people every year.

  6. I woke up thinking about this post this morning. I've been thinking anyway about how amazingly involved we are capable of becoming in how other people should do things.
    There are two recent situations in my own life that have become so - strange - due to individual's desires to have others do things a specific way.
    It never works.

  7. One of the few occasions when I am thankful I don't have any family left; though, I can tell you the fucked up voices of our parents remain in our heads long after they are gone. Best to deal with them now.

    Would your older kids consider picking out one or two presents they want to keep, then donating the rest to kids who could really use a little Santa in their lives?

    This way, you keep Jaws from pulling you, your beliefs, and your kids under the water to feed on them. Picture that openening scene in the movie where the shark first gives a tug on the skinny dipping swimmer. Your shark is tugging, it's up to you to kick her away and swim like hell for your bloody life. She has caused you enough pain, don't let her get in your head and make you question the work and effort you are putting in with your kids, which by the way is made harder by trying to step around the land mines from your past.

    There is nothing worse than a judgemental shark.

  8. I have tried to comment on this post a bunch, and I keep on getting distracted and losing it, so I'll just say this:


  9. I don't even view it as a Christian holiday anymore. It's just a time of hope, a way to survive through the cold and the dark.

    That's why I always wonder why there--or IS there?--some kind of Southern Hemisphere winter solstice-y equivalent in July or something?

  10. Obviously it would differ between cultures, of course, but you know why there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time? BECAUSE IT'S THE SUMMER. Stupid Band Aid. I'm just...the point is hope. That's the whole point. That's why Christian leaders picked the winter solstice instead of the summer one when they created the holiday (because as we all know, Christ's technical birthday was in March or something) and that's halfway betwixt the two.

    Although, since the land:water ratio in the Southern hemisphere is the reverse of the Northern hemisphere and most of those countries don't have anything close to the winters I'm used to, with the exception of South Africa sort of and Argentina and the Falklands and all those other islands scattered around the tip of South America, do those cultures even have some sort of pre-Christian solstice celebration?

    You know, I'm just going to stop talking.

  11. Oh, and New Zealand and southern Australia. GAHHHH. Shut up, me.