How I saved X-mas.

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I am not a fan of Christmas.

I never have been. Even when I was a kid I never liked the holiday. The only appeal it had for me was all of the goodies people gave me.

As I grew up and worked various retail jobs, I realized what a crock of shit holiday it was.

It is a relative fact that the public at large are usually at their worst around this time of year. The days leading up to Thanksgiving when you work in a grocery store are abysmal. Doubly so after Thanksgiving if you work in big-box retail.

When you shit on the retail employee because the store that employs said employee ran out of the dried onions for your bullshit green bean casserole or the store doesn’t have the toy that “little Johnny” wants, are you really “putting the ‘Christ’ in Christmas”?

As a father of 3 and a lapsed-Catholic, Christmas time had always been stressful for my wife and I. 

She was raised Jehovah’s Witness. As I understand it, people belonging to this religion do not celebrate holidays nor birthdays. I’m not exactly sure what the Witnesses stand to gain from this, maybe it’s some sort of cultural flagellation that they need to march through in order to receive their “riches in Heaven”.

As such, the holidays and birthdays meant a lot to her when our kids were young because she missed out on all of that happy horse-shit.

When our family structure shifted to where my wife was the sole source of monetary support, it became harder on her to make it through Christmas shopping without feeling wiped out and more jaded than when she first started.

This past Christmas was different.

I took the duty of getting presents for the kids away from my wife and I gave it to the kids.

That’s right: I made them buy presents for their siblings.

It was the easiest Christmas ever.

Initially, my sole trepidation was that when I told the kids what was going to happen this year, that I was going to have to listen to a fuck ton of whining, goings-on about how one child dislikes the other child because of such-and-such reason, and the classic “Whyyyyyyyy do I have to do it?”.

All three of them were on board essentially from the get-go.

My son needed a bit of a nudge given the fact that he’s been outnumbered for the past 6 years. I can understand where he’s coming from: it’s tough being the only male in social settings, even when that setting is your own home.

Prior to the shopping trip, I made sure that all 3 of them knew why they were doing the shopping this year: Christmas should be about putting the needs of someone else before their own needs.

The rules for shopping were simple:

  1. You need to buy at least two things (one for each sibling).
  2. You need to stay in the $30 dollar and under range.
  3. All 3 of them were to be taken to the same shopping center.

In the span of a week, this kids and I had Christmas taken care of and my wife was at her most relaxed that I had ever seen her at this time of the year.

As far as the shopping went, the girls were a piece of cake. I suppose that this has something to do with the fact that Women are generally better when it comes to this sort of thing. My son on the other hand needed a bit of extensive guidance because of the aforementioned reasons. I had to remind him a lot that he was shopping for someone else, not himself.

Speaking for myself, the best part of it was watching my youngest (she’s 6) actually think about her siblings and what they might like for a present. By and large, she was the one who really got into what she was doing. It was a real watershed moment for myself as a parent.

Suffice it to say, this is how Christmas is going to be until all 3 of the little assholes move out. 

Feel like sharing your “Holiday War Stories”? Scroll back up and let me hear about it! 

 

 

You can not be around the same bunch of a-holes 24/7.

Since I have become the parent who stays at home for the children, there has been something impressed upon me over and over again: you can not be around the same bunch of assholes 24/7.

Doubly so if it’s the holidays.

Triple-ly so if it’s your family.

In case you haven’t read anything else here, or you just can’t remember, this holiday for my family and I was different than all of the others (not because I had the kids do the X-Mas shopping) but because it was the first holiday that we were on our own (e.g We have no relations that live in Florida).

As per usual, my wife elected to be on call this past holiday (she’s a nurse FYI) because the likelihood of her having to go into to work is pretty fucking slim. It’s her way of sneaking a little bit of a break into her stress-addled career.

That being said, everything lined up to where there was no need for me to leave the house at all.

The kids were out of school for two weeks.

The girls (who have gymnastics) were off for two weeks because the people who take our money apparently get tired out from doing just that.

(The wife, in total worked all of 8 hours over those two weeks).

Nice little family togetherness time, right?

Fuck. No.

Don’t get me wrong, there were nice moments here and there (the kids opening their presents, me and the missus getting out of the house on a couple of dates…) but they were completely dwarfed by the fact that we were all getting at each other’s throats.

A couple of asides: we don’t live in a “social desert” (e.g there’s no one for our kids to hang out with). There’s plenty of kids the same age as our children. Kids palling around with other like-minded kids gets old after a while if it’s the only thing at your disposal.

What our current area can be described as is a “cultural desert” (e.g. their are no museums, no “Little Italy’s”, etc.). Where we live there’s nothing but Urban Sprawl. If you want cultural, you have to drive at least 30 minutes in any direction or else plan extensively.

Additionally, when you are in an “on-call” situation (regardless of the field you are employed in), you’re basically chained to wherever you live because you have to be at work within a certain time frame.

Suffice it to say, these past holidays were rough.

Two days before everyone went back to their usual routine of work and school, I hearkened back to my days of home-schooling (more on that later) the children: I got out of the house, on my own, as much as possible. Bike rides, visiting family, going to one of a kind book stores, you name it, I tried to fucking do it.

Over the two holiday weeks, I did little things (like working out and playing video games) in an effort to take my mind off the fact that I wanted to sneak into my children’s room at night, give them each a reverse mohawk with a set of rusty nail clippers, and then fart on their heads upon exit.

It wasn’t enough.

I suppose I didn’t get out of the house partially out of guilt: I knew that I could be doing more as far as being a part of my family and I knew that if I left my wife at home with the children, things could sour for everyone rather quickly. Additionally, my wife couldn’t go anywhere that would take her more than 20 minutes away from the house.

Should you ever find yourself in that situation, I cordially invite you to give that noise the finger.

If you need to get out of the house, get out of the fucking house. If there’s something at stake, like the sake of your bond between your significant other (or your mental health), just make sure that you communicate your need to be an individual out in the world on his or her own in a way that doesn’t make said significant other feel like shit.

It is that simple. 

 

Have a horror story you’d like to share? Wanna give me my what-fors? Let’s hear it in the comments at the top of this post!