It’s that time of year again. Trees are set up, mistletoe is hanging in strategic places in your home, and presents are probably already wrapped up and hiding under that big, green piece of vegetation (faux or not) sitting in your living room.
I don’t have a lot to offer this holiday season, but I do have a few thoughts about it.
But, I have kids. That means I can’t take it too hard.
Every year, though, I get stressed out. I want to buy everything for my family. If I had my druthers, I’d buy houses and cars for everyone in my life and not being able to do that frustrates the hell out of me.
“But it’s not about the presents,” someone might say. “It’s about family.”
Sure. I’ll buy that.
On the same token, though, I don’t actually give a damn about what I get anymore. I’m in a position where if I get what I want, awesome. If not, I’ll get it myself. It’s a good position to be in, more or less.
The problem is that I want to do for them. I want them to have everything in their life. I want to buy all the things as a way to show them how much I care.
And no, that’s not good either. I get that. Not being able to buy all the things is probably a good thing.
One of the things I’m working on in my life, something I haven’t talked about, is this weird hangup I have about stuff.
Growing up, my father could be a pretty hard man when it came to me. I have no doubts he loved me, but there were times I think he was more concerned with me portraying the ideal son than he was in being the ideal father.
The one thing he would do as a way to show his love, though, was buying stuff for people. No, it wasn’t the most healthy way to show affection, but it was what he did.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but that wove it’s way into my psyche.
As a result, I loved Christmas. Why? Because I got a whole lot of love!
What I really got was a whole lot of presents. I got love too, but it was the same love I got all year round. I didn’t realize how broken I was.
Years later, I met and married my wife, who had no such hangup.
On the contrary, she’s an aspiring minimalist. Instead of “buy all the things!” she’s more “throw out all the things!”
This was a point of contention for a long time, and neither of us really understood why. She was frustrated at my inability to get rid of things (I could and did, but it tore me up inside).
It wasn’t until much later that I realized what the problem was, but that was after years of buying myself stuff at least in part because it made me feel loved on some level.
Now, understand, not everyone will experience this in their lives. Not everyone will go through this. Not everyone will get broken in this way.
But do yourself and your family a favor. Make sure that what’s under the tree isn’t how you show that you care about them. Make damn sure they understand that what’s down there are tokens, just things that may represent that love, but are far from the only tokens they’ll get from you.
Believe me. It’ll be the best present you could ever get them.