December 25, 2010

The Gift of Giving and Why I Throw Walnuts in Corners

In the midst of holiday bliss, birthday fun (yay!), and getting sick... again (boo!), I somehow managed to find gifts for family and friends. Still, with all my efforts to get great gifts, somehow I ended up feeling like a total Scroogy-McScroogerston when the big day arrived.

This year was "our first Christmas" as husband and wife, so we're starting to figure out what sorts of traditions we'd like to incorporate... tree, stockings, volunteering, caroling, and of course, throwing walnuts in the corner. It's been years since I've celebrated Christmas like I used to with my dad (who died when I was a teenager), but this year we were lucky to get a good dose of Duricka Christmas Eve at my aunt's.
Our family holiday rituals are steeped in Slovak traditions. We begin with Oblatky (a little wafer that's much like Eucharist/communion/sacrament) and pour some honey on it to keep us sweet. We eat "poor man's dinner" which is a sausage and sauerkraut soup. We crack open walnuts to check our luck for the next year (black walnut = bad times ahead). And then we take whole walnuts and throw them in the corners of the room. You know... to bless the house. The walnuts stay there the whole year. It was so great to introduce my long-held family traditions to my husband, even if the traditions are a little strange.

What I wasn't anticipating was the plethora of presents that were then unveiled, with PILES of gifts taller than the beanpole 10-year-old. I'm not sure I've seen a stash like that before! The kids received all of the presents a child would hope for his whole life! I started to feel as if the gifts we brought (or didn't bring) were minuscule offerings brought to the king's party. I was a little overwhelmed and started to worry that our little gifts might not be as awesome as I had thought they were.
Is this the kind of Christmas loot kids are expecting these days? Am I this out-of-touch?
A couple weeks ago, I watched as my husband was Then, dressed as Santa and the little kids asked for presents I understood: Barbies, footballs, Red-rider b.b. guns. Then, a 10-year-old asked for an iPhone. "An iPHONE?" asked Santa. "Even I don't have an iPhone!"
Santa's got a Blackberry.

How much pressure do you feel when it comes to getting gifts?

1 comment:

Lisa said...

My husband and I have decided that we aim to not focus on gift giving in our family because we've seen too many kids, our nieces and nephews included, who get hordes of gifts and that's their main focus! So instead we are setting out to try and focus on giving memories or experiences, not gifts.

We hope to accomplish this by starting small from day one. We really laugh when a 1-year-old gets an outlandish decked out birthday party and mounds of presents. So starting from the beginning we are starting small. When my first child turns one I am perfectly content with a picture with the kid and a cupcake.

Our focus will be on building memories. In reality, how many of us remember all the presents we got on holidays and birthdays? I know what I remember...the things we DID, not the things we GOT.

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