Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The love languages of Christmas

December 31, 2009

As I get older, and especially now that I will be responsible for a little babe's Christmas experience, I think more and more of how I want to experience it. What traditions do I love? Which ones can go? What do I want to do more of, less of? Each Christmas, my parents go COO COO at Christmas. Our small living room is transformed by a crazy amount of gifts. Christmas at our house as children guaranteed 10-20 gifts, many significant in value. As we've gotten older, and our family has nearly doubled in size, nothing has changed. My parents have not scaled back at all. And I'll admit, I've spent many a Christmas in self-righteous mode, criticizing the extravagence. Some of it has been because as an adult now, I (we) have felt the need to reciprocate in a similar manner and as a social worker, there's no comparing. I just can't do it.

Over the years, I have grumbled to mom about the amount of gifts and she always says the same thing, "Don't take this away from your dad and I." I can get mom to bend on a lot of things, but this one has remained the same. They love it.

This year I was on the phone with Katie who was talking about all the baking she had to do. I reminded her that her niece or nephew cannot live on sugar alone (despite the fact that she/he kinda has been) and not to worry about all the baking. But like my parents' compulsive need to revive the economy, Katie was firm. And I began to think.

Like the popular Christian relationship book, the Five Love languages, we all have our own distinct Christmas love languages as well. Dad is the only man in America who enjoys the Christmas eve rush to Sams or Walmart or Bass Pro. He is thinking of each of us individually and something we might love. He takes joy in finding just the right thing (usually electronic). And the cost isn't what's on his mind. The recipient of the gift is- the person who will enjoy a wonderful gift thanks to dad's 15 hour work days. And while I'd take every bit of it back for him to work 8 hour days sans back pain, he wouldn't. I don't get him. I don't speak his love language. But out of love for him (and our new blue ray player), I will hear his love language.

Mom is no different. I guess it's fitting since they have played Mr. and Mrs. Claus all these years. She loves to cross off our Christmas lists and then to buy things here and there that add to the bulk around the tree. This year was probably my biggest year of surprises, mostly because the growing babe prevents all the cute new clothes I'd love. I feel terribly guilty for asking for my $$ dansko's when I didn't know that mom had already bought the one gift I didn't ask for but had been really wanting- new UGG boots. Those ugly ole things are such an extravagant purchase that I was determined to keep my old ones for another 4 years, even if all the wool was gross and sticky. Mom bought me the one thing I wouldn't have dared let myself ask for but will keep me warm and cozy for years to come. So out of one corner of my mouth, I berate her for so much spending. Out of the other corner, I exclaim the warmth and comfort of my ugly ole Uggs. I don't understand her love langugage either, but oh do I enjoy it.

And Katie bake (this nick name is so fitting). I made (attempted to make) Christmas cookies for our neighbors. It didn't help that I don't own any kind of electrical mixer (thanks Dad for changing that) but those cookies were awful. And they had 3 ingredients. 3 people. Monty turned his nose up at them. Ross, to his sweet credit, tried them and said they were "just a little too hard." yes honey. and gross. So I can appreciate a 20-year-old gal who can make the perfect divinity and creme brulee. But here's the thing. Whilst in the kitchen, sweet little ole Katie bake can sort of become a monster. She wants her craft to be perfect and any number of factors, from the Savannah humidity to old appliances to family who eat them faster than she can bake them, can make her a crazy (ier) woman. So even though I told her not to do all that cotton-picking baking, I knew she would. Because it's her love language. And even though I don't understand it or relate to it, my hips are very happy this week.

And oh the husband. While I threaten to call him scrooge after my favorite uncle, He doesn't try to be a scrooge. He balks at the materialism of Christmas and would be so much happier watching Charlie Brown's Christmas, with a fire cackling and a dark beer in hand. I don't mind it much at all. He keeps me from going too crazy at Christmas and is definitely the yin to my yang. Plus, he's not all scrooge. I am loving the heater at my feet and the long johns (though someone ought tell a man that no pregnant woman wears a small- and if they do, I don't want to know about it!) Anyway, his love language is definitely the ability to put the brakes on, make a girl slow down and focus on Jesus.

So all in all, this Christmas was wonderful. My precious mother-in-law surprised me with a beautiful pocketbook that I would have never, ever considered buying for myself, let alone a loud-mouthed daughter-in-law. My sister boughts gifts for my baby (a UGA baby bottle and a USC gamecocks bib for, and I quote, "when the baby throws up") You know in Judaism how the baby follows the religion of the mother, well, football is the same way. So GO DAWGS baby Ninness. There was more sweetness to the babe but that is coming in another post.

And lest you think I am basking in all this material kindness, you should know that my favorite moments of the weekend were Christmas eve Mass with my grandma and family (during which my sister and I laughed and giggled and cut up like 8-year-olds. I don't think Father Ben minded since it was his crack on college kids only going to Mass when forced by family at Christmas (dubbing them poinsettas) and at Easter (dubbing them lilies) that got us laughing so hard. And my Christmas day hike with the husband. Admittedly I didn't want to go as it was sprinkling and cold, but as soon as that puppy got off his leash and running and as soon as my legs realized that, yes, they are getting exercised at last, it was a beautiful afternoon. (that being outdoors and praising God in nature- yeah- that's my husband's love language too.) And seeing E and A- hugging on those girls I love and seeing that distance hasn't made them forget their friend Keri, that was a Christmas gift as well. What a piece of my heart those gremlins will always have!!

So the last Christmas of the decade was beautiful. I missed my brother in more ways than I can say but am grateful for the answered prayer in his safety. Each and every part of my heart was full. And while I look forward to a smaller Christmas with my new little family next year, I can appreciate that everyone spreads the spirit of Christmas in their own way.

this is last year but the scene is the same. Chi Chi is 5 lbs bigger but wore the same santa outfit that her aunt Keri got her. And Ross is tired, not drunk here...

By KeriS4 at 9:23am

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