THE CHRISTMAS SHIFT
By Jennifer Rawlings
When I was a kid, I started dreaming about Christmas in late July when the Sears Wishbook arrived in the mail. I would thumb through ever single page of that consumer tome and pick new digs for my Barbie dolls – like the “Barbie Town House” complete with string pulled orange elevator and of course the pink Barbie Volkswagen Camper bus with the orange and lime green decals you could stick on yourself.
In the heat of a Kansas summer I would envision every detail about Christmas morning and waking up to a pile of gifts for me and my Barbie Dolls, and the game of gnip-gnop my sister and I would play while our Barbie’s were napping. I could picture Santa Claus and his elves filling my stocking with grape Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers, and vibrant colored “toe socks”.
From July until December 24th I would thumb through the Sears Wishbook every day just dreaming about Christmas and all the possibilities that Christmas morning would hold.
When my kids were young I wanted Christmas morning to be perfect. When the kids would wake up, the tree would be lit, the fireplace roaring, stockings filled to the brim, “Santa gifts” wrapped in glittery paper, and of course Santa ate his cookies and drank his milk. Christmas with young kids is magical.
My kids are all teenagers now and they still go along with all the rituals and routines. Santa still fills their stocking and I make sure the tree is plugged in and the fire place lit before they drag themselves out of bed on Christmas morning- a far cry from the toddlers who would wake me at 6am Christmas morning bouncing on the bed and screeching: “hurry get up, let’s go, let’s go in the living room to see what Santa brought us.”
Part of me misses that chapter – the simplicity of a girl with her Barbie dolls or a boy with his hot wheels. Getting that kind of joy out of a teenager is a lot more complicated and very expensive.
However, this new chapter of Christmas with kids has also taken me down a beautiful and unexpected path of new possibilities. I can’t recreate through buying the kind of “Gift bliss” my kids had when they were young with wooden puzzles and trains. But my kids and I can create anticipation and excitement about what it’s like to share a fantastic holiday meal, buying gifts for children and families in need, and taking the time to make or buy something sentimental and meaningful for your family members.
Last year my daughter hand painted me a sake set and the year before she bought me a dwarf cherry blossom tree to plant in the backyard. The tree greets me every morning and reminds of Courtney’s thoughtful nature. Harrison, the artist in the house, made hand crafted clocks last year and hand bound books.
Of course, they still have a “wish list’ of expensive gifts but what we truly enjoy as a family is planning a great meal, decorating the tree and finding that one great gift that will elicit a smile, a chuckle or a tear.