Friday, December 14, 2007

christmas ramblings

We put our tree up yesterday which is something I put off doing because I don't really enjoy it. There is something about touching the branches that make me so itchy. I guess I wasn't really in the holiday mood either. I have yet to sign a card, bake a cookie, or buy a single present. Firstly, I haven't really had an opportunity to buy any. My children have been with me 24/7 without a glimpse of fatherly support for the past 2 weeks. I could have had my parents watch them, but that brings me to the other reason I haven't bought anything yet. Their bedroom has been a disaster zone.

I know I've mentioned before that I live in a small space. Let me just refresh your memory. We live 812 square feet-2bedrooms, kitchen, living room, bathroom, small laundry space. We didn't plan on living here long. It was kind of a stopping off point-so we thought- until we moved on to greener pastures. Life kinda got in the way, I'll spare you the details, and we have been here 8 years this January. I never intended to be raising 2 children here. Having 2 means they share a small bedroom. A small bedroom means, you guessed it, a disaster zone. My 4yo is mostly to blame for this. She inherited her dad's messy gene. She could care less if things are neat and orderly. She doesn't even notice. It's normal for her to have to walk over top of things in order to get where she wants to be. 9yo is not nearly so bad. After living with me for so long, she caught on that things need to be neat in order to live peacefully. 4yo could careless if things are peaceful. I think she thrives on chaos. So 4yo messes it up, 9yo complains and begins to clean it up, but by the time things are clean enough to find a "lost" toy, 4yo has messed it up again. I feel like my almost 10yo is capable of being responsible for her own space. It's her room, I shouldn't have to clean it. More times than not though, I take pity on her and when it gets so bad I can't get in the door I clean it.

I've shared all of that to explain why I haven't shopped yet. The bedroom was a disaster zone. 4yo strikes again! I explained calmly to her that if the toys she had couldn't be kept neat, there would be no Christmas toys. If they don't care for what they have, they don't need more. More is a disease.

My husband and I decided when our first was a newborn, that we would keep life simple. Toys come at Christmas and birthdays only. Sometimes as a treat they will get something very small throughout the year.( usually $5 or less.) This is done out of love, not out of cruelty. I have an older brother who was spoiled rotten! My parents were the ministers of a small country church and he was the only baby. He was the only grandchild my grandparents had access too, and my mother had such a hard time conceiving they thought they would never have another. He was spoiled! Then 6 years later I came along and my parents moved us across country. They ended up in a very poor congregation in the middle of Galveston TX. The parsonage was so run down you could see the ground through the holes in the floor. It was tough and finances were tight which seemed to carry over for many years after they moved back home. I didn't get many toys as a kid. Only at Christmas and birthdays did we receive our simple gifts. And now as adults my brother and I couldn't be any more different. He's a taker, I tend towards giving. He's self centered, I tend towards self giving. ( I don't wanna bash him, so I'll stop there.) My husband grew up VERY poor. (he's an immigrant.) We're talking, no shoes, belly growling, no education, get your first job at 7 poor. We both agreed that being given too much, makes for a sense of self entitlement. I hate to be in the store and hear children demand something of their parents or to hear a parent beg a child over and over to make a choice between 2 toys they neither need or want as evidenced in the countenance of the child. I don't want that for my kids. I'm hoping that by only receiving at special times in their lives they will learn to value their possessions and learn what it feels like to earn and save before spending. So far things look good. My oldest said to me around Thanksgiving time this year, "I'm glad we only get toys twice a year. It makes Christmas so much more fun. I can't wait to see what you get me!"

The moral of my story? The bedroom is now clean. When toys start to creep out of their proper place all I have to do is say, "Christmas is coming." Nuff said.

Did I mention how 4yo loves the tree? She can be found gazing up at the branches, or rearranging the ornaments at anytime right up until Christmas. Our tree gets decorated over and over again by this tree loving little girl.