Bit of a love/hate thing going on

Just about all blog posts I read at the moment are themed around Christmas and this one is no different. In short, I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas.

My main hate bit is the hype surrounding christmas and the associated commercialism. Here, the christmas decorations are put out in the shops in early October from memory. Every year people comment about how the decorations are available already and that it’s too early.

Partly, Christmas for me means I buy presents for people because it’s expected of me. I like to give gifts but I don’t like to buy gifts just because it’s Christmas and I feel I should. And it’s really painful going shopping when everyone else is out there doing it. I’m not organised enough to have it all done before the madness starts either.

It gets harder and harder to buy for my parents every year as they have every material thing they need. Ronni over at Time Goes By recently wrote an article about gift giving for elders. I’ll have to try and remember this for next year and consult with my sisters because I’m sure they have the same problem. I’ve resorted to alcohol for them this year and a photo of JJ I took, printed and put in a frame.

Christmas for me nowadays is more about my son than about me. It doesn’t bother me so much about receiving presents for myself or not, but looking at the joy JJ has when he opens his presents. I don’t go overboard on him and spend thousands or even hundreds. Some years I do spend more than others though depending on what I decide to get. He’s looking forward to Christmas and we’re marking the calendar with crosses until 25 December and I remember the anticipation as a kid was excruciating.

I’ve put up the tree, there are some presents underneath and a stocking hanging near the fireplace. The stocking will have to come with us as we won’t actually be home for christmas day so hopefully I’ll remember that.

As I said he’s looking forward to Christmas but then he’s also looking beyond that to the next time when he’ll get stuff at easter. And that’s what I hate about these holidays, the expectation. I alluded to it earlier about being expected to buy gifts for people. I try not to get my Christmas gift recipient list get too long. I used to buy for a couple of friends and we’ve mutually agreed to put a stop to that as it can get out of hand.

Last week JJ and I bought a gift for a boy about his age and put it under the Kmart wishing tree for charity. We shopped together and chose a present for someone who isn’t as lucky as him so they have something to open on Christmas day. He was really great about it but I don’t know how much it sunk in about who might end up with it. I’d like to make this our yearly tradition.

The Christmas card thing gets me though. I send off some cards to people overseas who I have very intermittent contact with and it’s a way of maintaining those contacts. I also send some to people within Australia I don’t see that often for the same reasons. I do not, however, give a card to all my colleagues and friends I see all the time because I think it’s ridiculous. I do feel a little guilty when I get one and I know that I won’t be giving one in return. Is it expected? Do these people feel put out when I don’t send them one? Too bad, because I’m not going to start doing it. JJ got given cards from his school mates. I didn’t go down that path either as it would have been something extra I had to do. When he can write, and when and if he wants to do it, that’s when it will happen. It’s in his hands.

I’m lucky in that I have family to hang out with at Christmas time but that’s fraught with family politics as I’m sure lots of families are. If I didn’t have family I guess it would be really hard and if I knew a Christmas orphan I’d love to include them in what I do. So while my family are all still around I try and make the most of it because I know I’d miss it like mad if it changed.

So Christmas looms every closer. I still have some presents to wrap, food to buy to contribute to the various places I’ll be visiting during that period. That brings me to one thing I do love about Christmas, and that’s holidays. I get to have just over a week off – yee hah!

When you want to stop a pointless argument with your child

To stop a pointless argument with your child, you leave the room and get a brown paper bag to put over your head then you walk back into the room.

I tried this for the first time last night. It was tea time, he was tired, he was really grouchy and it’s nearly the end of the school term and that’s gotta be getting to him. We started arguing about something so minor I can’t even remember it now but it was just escalating and escalating. It’s really hard to calm down when you’ve got your child just focusing on what their beef with you is at that particular time and won’t be swayed. Add the tired bit in, and it can be very volatile.

I picked up the paper bag idea from my the woman who massages me. I hadn’t had time to cut holes in it but me walking back into the lounge with my arms out in front hoping like hell I wouldn’t trip over anything made him laugh and it made me laugh and hey presto, pointless argument forgotten.

Here’s the famous brown paper bag with some eyes cut out of it and a drawing of an ugly cross face with the tongue poking out. I never said I could draw.

Paper bag over head

Visiting that man in the red suit

On Saturday morning we got up earlyish, made our way into the city to get to the Magic Cave to see Santa hopefully before too many other people. We arrived not that long after 9am and there was already a largish queue so I resigned myself to waiting our turn.

Riding Nimble (think that's the right one)

We were soon approached by a girl asking if we wanted to purchase photos of JJ visiting Santa. With my camera slung around my neck in readiness to do it myself, I told her I would take my own photos. When I last took JJ to see Santa there four years ago I was allowed to do just that. The rules have changed now – you have to buy photos if you want one with Santa. At about $22 for 2 photos I thought it was a bit steep. I’d rather put this towards his christmas present or towards that present we’re going to buy for a kid less fortunate for JJ, than towards the Magic Cave coffers. I understand they have to pay their ‘Santas’ and their helpers but it’s not like we spent absolutely nothing there and everyone else who purchased their photos more than pays everyones salaries I’m sure.

I thought I’d get some sort of clue as to what JJ wants for christmas but he was characteristically quiet with a complete stranger. He was probably completely in awe of seeing Father Christmas so hardly said a word.

Being stretched

Afterwards we queued yet again so he could have a ride on Nimble – one of the 2 christmas pageant horses and then we took some snaps in front of the fun mirrors.

We bought some fairy floss which I didn’t allow him to eat until we got home and I could contain the effects of all that food colouring within my four walls. Even without this, he was very excited so I didn’t even bother trying to do any christmas shopping.

Taking a step back

Closeup_1Sometimes it’s hard to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We focus in on the smallest detail and fail to see what’s really going on around us.

I’ve largely been caught up in the small detail and every now and again when I do take a big step back I realise things aren’t really that bad.

Sure, JJ has had behavioural issues at school and at after school care, but he’s a good kid really and with my support and love he should turn out quite all right.

It helps that I found out today he’s got into the after school care program at his school as from next year. Apparently it’s quite hard to get in because the demand is high and places aren’t that plentiful.

In the last three weeks before he finishes school for the year I’m doing a bit of juggling with my work time, and getting favours from friends so he’s not at the same after school care all the time. Tomorrow he’s being picked up by a friend who has a pool so he’ll get to go swimming. It’s worked out quite well for him thank you very much. And today for the first time in ages, he was good at the after school care place he’ll be leaving at the end of the year. He even told me that he walked away from a potential fight today at school. There are glimmers of some maturity shining through.


Putting up the christmas tree today

Some people I know are organised and today I’ll join them. I’m going to put up the christmas tree. I’ve got one of those plastic ones that I have to put together each year but it looks pretty good once it’s all up and decorated.

It usually stays up well past christmas too as I keep putting off taking it down. Once I get started doing this task it doesn’t take too long, it’s just the getting to the starting stage.

Hopefully this will prompt me to send out my christmas cards and think about what the heck I’ll get people for christmas presents. I can’t believe yet another year has almost passed. Sometimes I just want to get off what feels like a very fast paced world and just slow right down.

Back when things seemed simpler

This photo was taken almost one year ago. My how he’s grown since then.

Looks like I have to find alternative arrangements for after school care for the lad. Shit!

How come a boy that’s pretty bright just doesn’t get when he’s pushed things too far?

And then they turn around and surprise you

The other night JJ and I went to my sister’s birthday barbeque. Unfortunately I’ve reached the stage now with him that I go to social occasions with trepidation about how his behaviour might turn out.

I need not have worried. He was very well behaved. He chatted to the woman in the wheelchair who has muscular dystrophy and has very limited movement. He started asking me why she was in the chair and as I didn’t know that much about her and as she was sitting quite close to us and could hear everything he was saying, I said to him that he should ask her. She invited him to do so, so he moved closer and gave her the third degree.

He even fed her some corn chips as she is unable to feed herself. I puffed up a bit as the proud parent because it’s not that often lately that I’ve seen his compassionate side.

He also endeared himself to a couple of other adults who thought he was absolutely lovely and want to have him round to their respective houses. This is after my sister babysat him on Friday night and he was constantly rude to her.

Ah, what a paradox he is.