It wouldn't be holidays without some good, ol' drama, complete with emotional ups and downs. I
Two days before Christmas, my husband confessed that he hadn't bought me a single gift. I was OK with this because we had nearly run out of money for the month (with 7 days to go before payday). Also, I had been having my own problems finding him a gift. He is very picky. Like pickiest man alive, picky. (One time I bought him plain crew neck sweaters. Solid colors. Simple. He said they weren't his style and returned them. Apparently, all his collars have to be a certain shape- seriously?!).
Luckily, the week before Christmas, I was able to scrounge up a gift card, a book, and a bottle of his favorite gin. All from Santa. But true to his word, Christmas morning, there was not a single gift for me. I honestly did not care. I had treated myself to a nice scarf from Ann Taylor last month. I considered it an early Christmas gift.
While I didn't care at all about gifts for myself this year (I'm finding that I care less and less each year, in fact), what I DID want was a partner who would be excited about Christmas with me. See, I'm the leader of the Christmas Brigade in our house. If I don't do something, it won't get done. I buy the gifts. I plan all the stocking stuffers (even for myself). When the kids go to bed, my husband follows suit. I'm left to stay up half the night wrapping everything by myself. I don't understand why he doesn't get excited about Christmas gifts for the kids. I love to wrap Christmas gifts and get everything ready- right down to the fake Santa shoe print on the "welcome" mat. But, it's not as fun when you are doing it all by yourself. I wanted my husband to be excited WITH me.
When we tucked the kids into bed Christmas Eve, my husband headed straight for the bedroom, without exchanging a single word with me, and crawled into bed. My heart sank. I fetched all the gifts from the basement, put them in a big pile, and sat in the living room in front of the tree by myself. I was trying to have fun but the lack of my husband's participation was a glaring emptiness that consumed me. Another year of doing it by myself. The task wasn't physically daunting. But it was emotionally daunting. I swore at the tree and the plate of cookies I had set out for Santa and realized I didn't have enough emotional resolve to carry the entire holiday of Christmas forward on my own. It's exhausting having to be the sole source of Christmas cheer.
I promptly had a mini melt down which included stomping into the bedroom and passive aggressively making my upset known. Then I stomped out of the room as my husband called out after me, "well, what do you want me to do?" Why should I even have to ask? It's Christmas Eve. What did he THINK was supposed to happen? Did he think the gifts magically appeared under the tree all on their own? I couldn't believe his audacity. He was going to drift happily off to sleep while I stayed up until 1 am putting together all the gifts by myself? Even after staying up until 1 am the preceding night to do half of the Christmas Eve cooking by myself? IT WAS CHRISTMAS EVE! We were supposed to be happy and laughing and sipping spiked egg nog as we bond over wrapping legos and oddly shaped gifts.
Oh I was angry. Hot tears poured down my cheeks. Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Straight to the living room where my wrapping job was thwarted by tears that kept falling onto the flimsy, recycled wrapping paper.
My husband finally came out of the bedroom to save his own ass. But he didn't seem apologetic about it. I asked him to assemble Ryan's basketball hoop and told him, semi-sarcastically, that I would do all the rest. He assembled the hoop and was back in bed fifteen minutes later. Meanwhile I stayed up until 1 am writing a note from Santa, baking the cornbread crust for the morning's quiche, trying to wrap an entire basketball hoop, and filling stockings.
Then Christmas morning happened. And the kids were so excited. My husband and I got up, no words or glances exchanged between us. I finished cooking the breakfast. I set the table. And we ate. Pretty much in silence, interrupted every 30 seconds by Jacob asking, "can we open presents NOW?". I was trying so hard to savor Christmas and not dwell on the night prior. But my heart was still hurt.
I pulled out the video camera and filmed as the kids unwrapped their gifts. As Jacob and Ryan attacked the wrapping paper and screamed in excitement with each discovery, I smiled and captured it all from behind the lens. Then, out of nowhere, my husband reached out and put his hand softly on my leg, no doubt moved by the majestic sight of the pure, uncontrolled joy of children. It was his version of a peace offering. I could feel my anger slipping into relief as I made the decision to emotionally accept his offering. I just wanted to move on and salvage Christmas. "It's all ok now," I thought to myself.
When everything was unwrapped, Jacob made piles of everyone's gifts and kept a close inventory. He looked at me sadly and said, "Mommy. There's nothing for you." I, who had not given a single thought about my own gifts (and could care less), didn't even think Jacob would notice. He looked at me with such concern and sadness that my own heart started to break. "Mommy, Santa forgot you," he wimpered so sweetly. "But you were a good mommy." I put up a strong face but was totally melting inside and blown away by his empathy. I assured him that I didn't want any gifts and I was so happy to watch him open his presents. His concern and caring was so moving and yet so heart-wrenching at the same time.
The kids played with their gifts until it was time to go to my in-laws to celebrate Christmas dinner. At my in-laws, we ate what seemed to be an entire Thanksgiving-worthy meal and unwrapped more gifts. Then we came home in the evening and tucked the kids into bed. When I crawled in bed next to my husband he asked, "Did you get your present?"
"What present? You didn't get me a present."
"It's from the boys. It's on the kitchen table."
"I didn't see it."
Apparently, sometime during the day, my husband had put a small little envelope on the table without saying a single word. I had passed the table a hundred times and never even saw it. What the heck? I didn't know if I should have been happy to have a gift or upset by the lack of presentation. Oh well. I had used up all my emotions for one holiday. I let it go and drifted off to sleep.
Husbands are so weird.
Although I will swear up and down that I do not care about gifts (thank goodness there is a real meaning and purpose behind Christmas and that it's not all about gifts- although gifts do tend to get an unfair amount of the spot light), I was very excited to wake up and find a Nordstrom gift card on the table. Jacob, who woke up before me had already opened the envelope. He saw his name (where it said "From Jacob and Ryan") and automatically assumed it was his, of course.
Unfortunately, I had to go to work today while my husband (who took the rest of the week off) stayed home and tested out all the new toys with the kids. Luckily the office was eerily quiet so that gave me lots of time to think of all the ways I might use my gift card. After much debate (disclaimer: no internet surfing was done while I was actually on the clock), I settled on these fun shoes:
I can't wait for them to arrive. They look so comfy!