Christmas Lessons 2011

A few quick things I learned this past holiday, in no particular order.

1) 3-year-olds cannot take Communion. I learned this the hard way at Christmas Eve mass when I tried to take Blake through the Communion line, only to find that there are certain requirements one needs to fulfill before doing so. In my defense, I’m not Catholic, and Blake likes crackers. I was thinking no further than that. As I now understand:

First Communion is considered one of the holiest and most important occasions in a Roman Catholic’s life. It means that person has received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Most Catholic children receive their First Communion when they’re seven or eight years of age because this is considered the age of reason. Others can receive communion for the first time whenever they’ve met all the Church’s requirements.

Point taken. I will definitely keep that in mind next year.

2) Gifts should be given, not earned. I heard this one at the afore-mentioned Christmas Eve mass. And even though I got in trouble for requesting a wafer for my 3-year-old, I did very much appreciate the service message: When we tell kids that if they’re good, they will get a gift for Christmas, we’re missing the entire point of Christmas. Gifts are freely given, out of love, because someone wants to give them. They’re not things to use against people, or to win favors from them. Like – ever. Christmas or not.

3) Transformers are a mother-f@cking ┬ápain in the @ss to put together. Yes, in theory, they rock. However – if you need to provide an 18-STEP how-to guide to help figure it out, there is definitely a problem. Especially when the box says “Ages 5+”

Something doesn't look right ... but I can't put my finger on it ...

4) I suck at “Christmas shopping.” It feels incredibly unnatural to me. I’m not a girl that likes to give gifts for no reason. On the other hand, if I see something that reminds me of someone, or I happen to be thinking of them, I’m apt to send a gift just to tell them so. So many of the “family” gifts we gave this year felt empty. We give you a gift card; you give us a gift card back. Is there really a purpose to that? Do we really need to exchange gift cards to know we care about each other? I’m rallying for choosing a gift for charity as a family next year. Let’s give to those who really need it and teach our children the purpose of the season (and life in general, actually).

5) One special present is enough. For real. When Blake opened his stocking (which we made – at home – for $0) he thought those little stocking stuffers were the only things he was getting. And he was happy with it. Which was a major sign that the Christmas gift craziness just isn’t necessary, at least in our family.

6) Fine jewelry comes in many different packages. This is the coolest thing B has ever given me. And I’m not even sure if he plans to let me keep it.

Fine jewelry, care of Blake Dean

7) I need to accept my in-laws for who they are. I’ve been doing Christmas with them for a decade. And every time I come here, I get frustrated with them because they aren’t the kind of people I want them to be. They’re not bad people. They’re just different people from the ones I grew up with. And I need to start accepting that. Christmas will be a lot less stressful for me if I do.

8) On that note: just a little reminder for the in-laws: His name is Rhett – not Brett! Please write it down if you need to!

9) It’s important to step away from the work for a bit. Even though I felt guilty neglecting emails and projects for a few days, it did me good to get out of the grind for a bit. Clearer head = better worker, and better mama all around.

10) It’s starting to feel more and more necessary to live closer to family. Blake lights up like a Christmas tree when he’s around his aunt and uncles. It’s starting to feel cruel to keep him (not to mention me!) away from more people to love. Southern California, I love you. But a girl needs her family too. TBC …

xoxo – merry christmas

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