How I Won the War on Christmas

alan glen xmas morning“You can all go home now.” I declared to my children. “I’ve won the War on Christmas!”

“Won the War? Mom? Umm. What War are you referring to?” my daughter asked carefully.

“Spending too much money on stupid things that no one wants!” I declared. “Going into malls after Thanksgiving.” I added warming to the subject. “Putting up blow-up plastic rain deer and Santa’s on the front lawn. Easy listening Christmas music in supermarkets!” I shouted.

“I’ve won! I’ve won!”

“Mom,” my daughter tried to explain “When they talk about the War on Christmas, they’re talking about non-Christains’ wanting everyone to say ‘Happy Holidays’ and banning creches so that the non-Christain kids don’t feel so left out…”

“Oh. Well. Of course, I try to do that.” I insisted. “Say Happy Holidays. I mean. It just always comes out Merry Christmas.”

“But that’s not my War.” I added quickly. “I just hate to spend money. And decorate. And bake…”

“Does this mean that you’ll stop writing those stupid “I Hate Christmas’ articles every year?” my husband breathed, quickly making the sign of the cross.

I looked at him.

“But,” I protested “That’s the only Christmas Tradition that I really like…”

For readers who have not read my 12 previous ‘I hate Christmas articles’ let me recap. I didn’t always hate Christmas. I liked stockings and getting toys. It wasn’t until I was the one providing the stocking and toys that I changed my tune.

It came home to me recently. I was looking through old photographs and I saw one of my little brothers, in our PJ’s on Christmas morning. They looked like they had just woke up and discovered that it was Christmas! In the background I could see my mother. She was stretched out on the couch, looking bleary-eyed with her head on a pillow.

I liked Christmas before I was a parent. I liked it right up until my work holiday parties were bookended by demands to buy and wrap pre-school exchange gifts. And Karate party gifts. And send in cupcakes. And have a few ‘put-aside’ presents for those ‘friends’ who unexpectedly showed up with presents. I liked Christmas before I had to buy for my step-mother, my step-father, my parents, my in-laws. And, the children of my husband’s eight brothers and sisters.

One year, I read a humorous article on Christmas, detailing similar struggles. I didn’t think it was funny at all. That night, standing in front of an aunts refrigerator, reading the posted article, I wept, and declared War.

“Just say no,” was my new Christmas mantra.

Now that my war is won, I should pause give credit to my unsung heroes.

It was my mother-in-law who first came to my rescue.

“All my grandchildren have everything they need.” she declared. “I’m going to take the money I would have spent on them, and give it to Globe Santa.”

And my own mother, the woman with her face in the pillow, was also a also a willing noncombatant.

“Lets just do presents for the kids.” I said, and she readily agreed…I miss my mother.

“You know what I hate about your Christmas articles?” my husband declared. “It’s that they’re not true. You’re the one who wouldn’t give up on Christmas.”

I hate to ever admit that my husband is right. But, despite cutting out a lot of gift-giving, I was still convinced that I had to have at least 10 wrapped presents under the tree for each child. And another six stocking stuffers. Otherwise Christmas would be ruined, and my children scarred for life.

“Just say no.” my husband would remind me. But I would shake my head, and stress and shop and wrap and blame Christmas.

But somewhere along the line, my children stopped wanting to do stockings at my house. Something about being married, I think. And, whether I bought presents or not, there was a lot of un-wrapping and general merriment under the tree. Then, they introduced the concept of the off-year. On the off-year, we get Thanksgiving and the in-laws get Christmas.

The first year this happened, I demanded FakeMas, so we did the whole she-bang anyway…just on January 6th.

But this year, Fakemas got a collective shrug. My own children are older now than my mother was in that Christmas photo. They have demanding jobs, and complex schedules. If they have a free moment, all they really want to do, is stretch out on the couch with their head on a pillow. When I declared that no Christmas meant no presents, they shrugged, yawned, and looked around for a blanket.

“I don’t have to do anything or buy anything this year! I don’t have to go to a mall! I’ve won! I did it!  I declared triumphantly, standing up and raising my fists high into the air.

My son looked concerned. “Mom?” he asked “Is this a Wile E. Coyote moment? I mean, once you’ve caught the roadrunner, what will you do with the rest of your life?”

I frowned. “Can’t you all just share in my moment of triumph?”

Meanwhile my grandsons smiled.

“Parade? Ane?” they asked, giggling and jumping up and down.

“Yes! Yes!” I shouted. “Yes! Jingle Bells, Christmas smells! Abel leads the way!” I sang. “Maxie is the wild one, all on Christmas day…”

I sang, the grandsons marched, banging on pots, and the children curled up on the couch. All was well.

Except, no one went home, and maybe I do need to buy presents…just for the grandkids of course…

(Husband’s note: We are having a family Christmas on January 5th this year, but don’t tell my wife.)

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