The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not Really in the Christmas Spirit

I don't feel like doing Christmas this year. We are broke. I don't want to go into a bunch of debt to buy gifts. We have the kids taken care of already, but we can't buy much for anyone else. Despite the fact that everyone will most undoubtedly say, "Its not about the gifts," there is always the awkwardness of someone giving you gifts when you don't have much (or anything at all to give in return), and besides that- it feels good to give gifts to those we love. It hurts to not really be able to buy what we'd want to buy at a time when we'd really like to give to the people we love. Plus, there are so many other expenses right now too. There are many friends/family having babies right now, and all the baby showers are hitting pretty much right at once, so there are gifts for those. There are potlucks and parties to bring food to. There are birthdays to buy gifts for. I have a fix-it ticket because my registration was suspended by no fault of my own. Although we pay our car insurance through automatic monthly payment deductions from our checking account- and have for years- they for some reason didn't send the info to DMV and now DMV wants a reinstatement fee and the court will want me to pay a small fee to clear the fix it ticket.   I wish I could get our housekeepers a Christmas thank you gift. I wish I could get Vinny's preschool teachers a Christmas gift. It is all overwhelming. If I had all the money I wanted, I wish I could get each and every one of my students a present, but I don't know if I  will even be able to get all of my family members a present, so that would never happen. It is going to be a tough two weeks.

Besides that, we've been too busy and stressed to enjoy most of it anyway. Saturday we went to Knott's Merry Farm as a family, and that was really nice, but it went by so fast and then it was back to work. I spent 80% of my day Sunday just getting ready for the week. Grades are due, and I am trying to tie up all the loose ends for this semester, which is not proving to be an easy task. It is hard to be gone for 10 weeks then jump right in and put on a play the week before finals, and then be ready to turn in grades. Not an easy task.

Our Pastors message this past Sunday was about slowing down and not missing Christmas. It was a really nice idea, and he even tried to give some pointers about how to slow down and not miss Christmas, but none of them will work for me right now. Spend more time reading the Bible. Gee, thanks, but I can't seem to find enough time to read the papers I need to grade to honor my obligation to my students. Come home 30-60 minutes early from work. Okay, great idea, and I am trying to get out of there earlier this week... but there is just as much work to do at home. Give a gift to someone who can't give you anything back. Great idea... not sure its doable though. It is just all harder than it sounds.

I'm tired. I was up til almost 2 grading on Sunday, and although I went to bed at like 10 last night, I still felt like a zombie. I had a Dr. Pepper today when I got home, just missing the caffeine and the comfort of my old favorite. I figured, Tiana is 3 months tomorrow, and even if her colic did seem to be associated with caffeine, colic is supposed to go away at 3 months, right? So, I drank it... and it was nice. Unfortunately, she woke up promptly 30 minutes after I finishd it and she wanted to eat pretty quickly. Call it a coincidence, or call it evidence (I lean towards evidence), but she was super fussy and crying for nearly 2 hours afterwards. Sigh. Sometimes I want a latte so bad it hurts.... but I guess I'll need to just deal with it for the next 9 months or so.

On the positive note, since it feels like I do an awful lot of complaining on here, and I really don't want it to be all that... we went to a beautiful Christmas party today with some of Vinny's friends and their moms' (my friends). My favorite moment of all is when I told Vinny, "Okay, we gotta go, say bye to your friends," and he stood up and said- without any prompting at all- "Bye Sean. Thank you for having me over to play."  It melted my heart. I know that sounds so simple, but I didn't tell him to thank his friend, and he did, and it sounded genuine, not routine. I think my son is actually starting to appreciate things like that when his friends have him over to play, not only do they have to share their toys (which can be hard for a 4 year old to do), but it also leaves them with the massive task of cleaning up afterwards (friends can try to help, but really a kid knows where he wants his own toys to go). It is moments like this that assure me I must be doing something right in parenting this kid. :-)


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  2. You're timing for coming back from maternity-leave is unfortunately right smack in the middle of the most hectic time of the year, the holidays. I'm not sure there's much I can offer you or say that will make that any easier.
    On the subject of Christmas, however, I will weigh-in.
    At the risk of saying exactly what you anticipated, I'm going to do it anyway.
    You're right. Christmas is not about buying gifts. We only give gifts to symbolize the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift humanity ever received.
    So, may I suggest we examine the story of the little drummer-boy who had nothing to give but the gift of his song?
    You are a writer.
    Why don't you give the gift of your song?
    Just a suggestion.
    In the meantime, just enjoy the holidays ahead & family-time by soaking-up this break from your whirlwind routine.
    It will all be there waiting for you after the new year ensues.

  3. I feel the same way. We can't get gifts for anyone, not even each other. And everyone is having babies and birthdays that I can't get gifts for either. I'm having enough trouble getting out thank you cards, and we didn't send out any Christmas Cards this year. It's sad cause I really want to give gifts. But I really don't want anything for Christmas though, just to spend time with family and be healthy would be enough.
    Just be thankful that you are able to go to Christmas parties and Knotts Berry farm and things like that. I would LOVE to be able to do those things.