Fine...maybe I do like Christmas after all.

I love Thanksgiving.  I love what it means and how we celebrate. Unlike Christmas, it has not gone astray from it's original intent. I enjoy my turkey dinner and I really focus on what I am thankful for. Not just the big things like my family and our good health, but the other things that make my life so rich, like Diet Coke and the internet.  The problem is that as soon as it's over, I start to feel tense. The day after Thanksgiving is truly Black Friday for me, I would never shop on that day, even if they were giving the merchandise away.  On that day, the dread of all there is to do to make Christmas happen, hangs over my head like a dark cloud.

How did it get so crazy?  I am all for celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world, I love that part of Christmas.  It's the rest that makes me a little nuts.  Well, except for the giving and receiving of Christmas cards, I love that.  And the Christmas lights, those are pretty nice too.  To be honest, it's the focus on gift giving that has killed it for me.  I hate how the days following Christmas are filled with conversations that go something like "How was your Christmas, what'd ya get?"  How does it always come down to that?  And the confusion and pressure of who to give to and what to give them.  I hate that.  I once overheard a teacher complaining (outside of school) to another woman, '....that's all I needed, another Yankee candle'.  It may have been that moment that pushed me over the edge and turned me into a Christmas hater .  I remember thinking, 'that kid didn't have to get you ANYTHING, and that kid's mom spent her hard earned money to get that for you, what is the matter with you!'

Then we brought Mikias home and I started to soften a little. At five years old, he experienced his first American Christmas.  We put the candles in the windows and decorated the outside in white lights.  Kurt carried Mikias outside in his pajamas that night and showed him our decorated house.  He was speechless for a moment, with his hand clasped over his wide open mouth. All he could say was "Oh, thank you Daddy!"

On Tuesday, the boys and I put up and decorated the tree. Amy Grant (who sings Christmas better than anyone) played on the stereo and we sang along as we worked.  The boys put so much thought into what ornament went where, that it became more like a work of art.  They loved the stories behind so many of the ornaments.  Mikias found a spot of honor for the ornament my Mom made for me my first Christmas.  It is a Styrofoam ball with 'Alison' written across it in blue glitter, it's hanger is a worn red pipe cleaner.  Mikias hung it as though it was made of delicate crystal.

The boys met Santa on December 5th and Mikias told him that he had been really good the whole entire month.  He told him that he didn't really want anything from him (a lie) and that he was just happy to meet him and spend a little time with him.  He told Santa that he was his hero. He was so star-struck that he was kind of babbling. Jemby just sat there beaming at Santa and stroking his beard.  On the ride home, Mikias said, "I'm going to have to ask you to get me a Nintendo DSi because I felt weird about asking Santa."

Today Jemby got off the school bus wearing a construction paper Santa hat and beard.  It was that moment that I realized that I was lying to myself.  I don't hate Christmas at all.  I really do think the gift giving emphasis has gotten way out of hand, but Christmas is pretty great after all.  Could someone please remind me about this on the day after Thanksgiving next year?