The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The economy sucks. We're all stressed out about it - I know I am. But I'm so not stressed out about Christmas.

Am I the only one who doesn't mind that Christmas is less about giving that big "must-have" gift this year? I find it liberating.

I love everything about the Christmas season, except for the whole pressure to shop thing.

Now, even a cursory glance at this blog will make it obvious that I have no problems with shopping or with owning nice things, but I do have a problem with this pressure to buy, buy, buy in the name of what is, to me, a religious holiday. It just seems wrong. I prefer to do my shopping when the mood strikes, which to be honest, is often. It's just that I don't need Macy's telling me that I have to fight the crowds to buy more stuff in time to make the tree look like the one at the mall.

Of course, it's easy for me to say this because for Latin people Christmas is a time about not working, partying with your family and getting drunk (oh, and going to midnight Mass on Christmas Eve - the only time I happily go to church because I find singing "Silent Night" by candlelight soothing and magical.)

I much prefer the simple gifts. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. I also don't like the sights of crazed children opening gift after gift on Christmas morning. I do like the way a child's face lights up when they get that one thing they always wanted. I know that children love presents, but I don't go overboard on Christmas. I don't think my kids will be deprived if they don't have the latest electronic gizmo. Sure, I listen extra carefully this time of the year and try to figure out what it is that they really want and make sure it's under the tree. They're kids, after all. Usually what they want is something very simple - or so ridiculously impossible that you can't do anything about it.

This year, all my three year old wants is a Spiderman DVD and to meet Barack Obama. I can't give him everything (unless one of you has excellent connections and wants to perform a Christmas miracle of presidential proportions), but I can look for a DVD. So now I'm on a quest to find something age appropriate. NOT EASY. But also? Not expensive.

I didn't write this to criticize people who like to give and receive a lot of gifts - I'm just sharing how I do it. (We do the big gifts on birthdays. Birthdays are where we go all out.) I just hope that everyone that celebrates the holidays stops to enjoy them. (I mean all of them, not just mine.)

It's not just about the presents. It's about the cookies and the booze too.