It's that time of year again. I used to love Christmas, back when Christmas was a time of happiness and celebration and, yes I'm going to go there, giving and receiving gifts. Especially receiving gifts. I likes getting me some gifts!
And then, things changed, as things are wont to do. Damn things! Damn change—or at least damn the change I don't like. Boooo!
See, my mother was the Christmas spirit carrier in our house. She loved the holiday, and while she was far from a Christmas-tree-after-Thanksgiving-dinner extremist, she did get into the holiday. It was her most favorite time of the year, and her love for Kris Kringle and all things Christmas-y was fairly contagious. Even my father never complained, or at least he did it in a way we didn't hear.
I think he actually liked it, too, because once Mom was gone, Christmas kind of died for him. We pretty much had to force him to put up a tree—if for no other reason than so the grandkids wouldn't ask too many questions. He grudgingly agreed, but I think that tree represented for him all that was gone.
I'm straying, aren't I?
So, Christmas here, in a word, blows chunks. I am married to Scrooge himself. And I shouldn't complain. The fact that Mr Manthing squirrels away pennies for whatever rainy-day emergency may come along has permitted us to survive in a warm, albeit too small house while paying for the Shitheap on the Hill that we can't live in. His economies have permitted urgent visits home to see loved ones who needed a visit. I shouldn't complain. Shouldn't. But I'm going to anyway.
This Scrooge-like behavior has sucked the joy out of the holidays for me. Sucked it dry. I've spent Nine years in France, and celebrated eight Christmases here. We did go to my brother's one year, and I basically walked him through Christmas that year. He hated it. I think he'd have rather had a root canal without anesthesia.
The rest of those holidays I have either gone without a visit from Saint Nick, or have been presented with the scrapings of the bottom of the bargain bin. Mr Manthing has a difficult time with gifts in general, and an even harder time when the idea of giving something is imposed on him.
And then I have a difficult time explaining to my son, like I had to do two Christmases ago, why Santa thought I was so terrible that I didn't get anything.
For the most part we've been able to come to some sort of agreement on the kids. I suggested, and then imposed Kim's idea for Christmas gifts—something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. Not only is it poetic, it saves us from the idea of utterly spoiling our monkeys—something that gives both of us nightmares. And it seems to be a happy medium between his childhood Christmases filled with a piece of fruit and a book (or maybe that was his parents? In any case, it wasn't exactly as though Santa's sack was overflowing here) and mine that were characterized by an unhealthy dose of excess.
Still, Mr Manthing tries to trim off as much as possible from the above list. See, they don't really NEED anything, right? So we can do away with that one. And reading.... They've got a lot of books. Grrrrrr. Why can't this just be simple!
And he's not exactly a font of ideas, either. He's quite capable of saying no to any one article, and justifying it. But when trying to get an idea of what, exactly, we should get for the kids? Ha! Blood from a turnip, anyone?
So I'm doing it alone this year, giving Mr Manthing the veto on specific items (The Gift—the one that fills the Something You Want slot, since ours are still young enough to not really know what they want—other than everything they see, that is). And for now, no one is complaining. This may well be because things are wrapped and hidden before he sees them. But I am sort of giving him the play-by-play of what Mère Noël is doing. And he isn't grumbling, too much.
Now if I could just get him to retire this idea of gifts as poison. I'd like a nice Christmas, too.