it’s over.

Christmas, I mean. It’s over.

Thank fucking god. (No religious disrespect intended.)

Goodbye, Santa. (I’m still hoping you’ll come through for me…)

Goodbye, extra financial stress. (Now back to regular financial stress.)

Goodbye, ridiculous crowds in my face everywhere.

Goodbye, pressure to measure up.

Goodbye, extreme feelings of inadequacy.

Ahh… but that last one is a lie. It’s not really goodbye. Those feelings haven’t gone away. And they likely won’t. It’s hard to feel like you’ve done a great job as a daughter… as a sister… as a parent… when you’re surrounded by ‘better’.

Christmas Eve wasn’t bad. Hell, I had Mom’s punch. I also had Aunt Dumbass to frustrate/entertain me. Frustertain me? And don’t forget the punch. And only a mildly stressful Yankee Swap. You know… I hate those things. I really do. Even that made me feel inadequate. But it was nothing compared to the next morning.

Sleeping arrangements are a little crazy at Mom’s on Christmas. I ended up sharing a room and a bed with my daughter. She thought sleeping with Mom was fun. I didn’t particularly enjoy her kicking me in her sleep, but she’s adorable and we loved that we got “our own girls’ room“.

My daughter woke me up around 7 am. That wouldn’t have been so bad had I been able to sleep the night before. Even she was up way too late… like, 1 am. And I was awake, too… for three more hours after that. Crying. About what, you may ask? I don’t even fucking know. Maybe it was a premonition.

I finally got out of bed around 7:30 Christmas morning and I got myself downstairs. Got coffee. Sat by the tree until everyone was there. All good. Then the presents.

There are three kids… my two and my little sister’s son. We didn’t go crazy buying our kids lots of stuff. A couple of surprises but mostly, they get what they ask for… within reason. And they don’t ask for tons. They’re past a lot of typical toys little kids get. And even they don’t want stuff they’ll never use. That’s not just me. And because we don’t have lots of (any) extra money, a lot of their gifts came from my mom and single sister. (I bet she would love knowing that that’s how I refer to her… how about we go with D? My little sister is J.)

Unlike me with my kids, J bought her son loads of toys. As gifts were taken from under the tree and passed out, he got so much. So much. Even J herself got a lot. It was hard for my kids to watch. She’s the baby… I’ve always watched her get more. And her son is the youngest of the kids… I think he’s spoiled, too. Although only by his own mother. When all was said and done, the pile of stuff J and her son had amassed was giant compared to everyone else.

And my brother-in-law bought J a ring… something I didn’t care for but she thought it was the most beautiful thing ever and she was showing it off all morning. Fine… you’re the better parent… and you have a better husband, too. I get it. Now go away.

For me… well, I don’t care about myself. I don’t want jewelry or anything else like that. And I don’t want my husband to spend money on me like that (but it would be nice if he could afford to but not do it)… I just want my new stove/oven. Besides… I did get one huge gift (will get into that later)… and a few small things.

But my kids… upon seeing their cousin’s huge pile of stuff… that was hard for them. They felt kind of crappy. And it killed me to see that. It totally made me feel like a bad parent. I just can’t give my kids everything. And hell, they got what they asked for! They are just not greedy… nor spoiled. But I was left feeling totally inadequate. Who the hell wants to see their kids sad on Christmas?

Then we moved on to breakfast… with bacon. I guess that made things a little better.

But I still feel terrible for how my kids felt. We even had a conversation about whether or not we should continue to sleep over every Christmas. The answer is yes. For a number of reasons. Number one being my mom. But I am going to continue to dread it, I’m sure. I feel bad that we don’t have the means to get them a huge pile of gifts… and that we don’t have the space to own that stuff. But even if we did have the means and the space, I don’t think we would spoil our kids like that. At least they’re learning how real life is. Maybe my nephew will always be spoiled… but at some point he is going to have to learn how to be an adult… responsibility and disappointment and all.

Oh… and the kicker is that the kid doesn’t even seem all that grateful. Once gift opening was done, he went off to play on his iPad… which he did not get for Christmas… he already had it.

So… I watched a kid get spoiled. I felt inadequate. I can’t even do fun things with my kids over this school break because there’s only so much to do in the house and it’s about 2° outside. I don’t even want to open the door. And I’m in a lot of pain. My back… but that’s a topic for another post. (MRI happened.)

But I will try to end this on a positive note. I feel incredibly guilty when people spend money on me because I cannot reciprocate. And I’ve been trying to get over that… at least for this one gift… because I want to be able to enjoy that my sister D bought me a new laptop.

©2017 what sandra thinks


About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, sometimes blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Italy, but she would settle for a non-oceanfront home in Italy. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
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43 Responses to it’s over.

  1. timholman says:

    Thanks for being real. I missed being with my family for Christmas this year for the first time in 40 years. I missed them but I feel a lot of the same way you do with the gift giving. One question though… it seems that the gift giving parade is the most stressful thing so why now so gifts apart and come together afterwards? Do you live near one another?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sorry you couldn’t have Christmas with your family this year. We all meet at my Mom’s which is about an hour away from 2 of us… a little longer train ride for the third. I think it would be more sad to skip Christmas morning than the gift stress issues. My kids do love going and having the whole sleepover. I just really hate how commercial Christmas is now… and how it all feels like a competition. And being realistic… it’s not like we could rebel against that and skip or get very few gifts… kids are kids… they want presents and I don’t blame them! Christmas Eve is when we see extended family, so I wouldn’t skip that… but then we’d be back and forth which might be crazy… and despite the gift crap, I don’t think anyone wants to skip the sleepover. It’d be too depressing at home anyway… I don’t have the space to have a big tree or make things festive enough. My mom has, like, 6 trees! Two big ones and 4 smaller ones!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marquessa says:

      You hit the nail right on the head. I was thinking the same thing. Open gifts at your respective homes with your immediate family and at the extended family gathering, you bring the gifts for those that will be present. No muss no fuss. That’s what those around me do most of the time. But I have a feeling that it’s more about “the show”…At least your kids know better and understand that materialism is just that – materialism. Shows that you raised them well, very well. On another note, what’s 2 degrees F? Right now and for the rest of the week, we’re sticking at -38C. No one is going anywhere except for the take-out delivery person!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Josh Wrenn says:

    I’m sorry you are feeling inadequate. My budget for Christmas is always small, but this year was the lowest by far. We did a lot of baking to compensate though, because everyone loves my fiance’s baking. Fortunately, most of the people who get gifts from me are adults who realize that the thought is what matters.

    Also, I am so glad it is over for one of the reasons you listed. “Goodbye, ridiculous crowds in my face everywhere.” This year was the WORST!!! Not even during the day on a Tuesday was safe!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The V Pub says:

    I like visiting but not staying. That would stress me out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christmas morning at my house was so depressing and disappointing. It’s so much better at Mom’s. It’s just the excess on the part of my younger sister for her kid. It’s hard to watch when we struggle with money. I wish I had plenty to throw around. I wouldn’t throw it around, but I wish I had it…

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Tony Burgess says:

    Reducing the number of gifts is not a bad thing. Most people don’t want the stress of more stuff. It’s OK to be glad that the hub bub of the holidays is coming to a close. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Who bought all of the gifts for your nephew? Your sister and her husband? And then they brought all of them over for him to open? That’s kind of… well, I don’t know. If I was your sister in that scenario and I know that my other sister doesn’t have money to splurge on gifts, I’d bring a reasonable amount and give it to the kid later.

    Anyway, as someone who usually got a few gifts at Christmas, I don’t think you should feel bad. It’s better for kids to grow up with what they need as opposed to getting a bunch of gifts that might end up being wasted money in the long run.

    Comparing yourself to other (even family) is never a good thing because in spite of your genetics, you’re all different and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re inadequate, life has just worked out differently.

    Congrats on the new laptop!! 😏… Enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That should be ‘*give the rest*to him later’.

      Liked by 1 person

    • My nephew got gifts from everyone… my mom, my other sister, and me. But the majority came from his own parents. They brought a lot. I agree with you… they could have left some for when they got home. If I had a lot for my kids, I’d have left some to open when we got home. That would be fun for them, I think.

      It pains me for people to waste money (and by ‘people’, I’m including me). This is why when I or my kids get something we know we won’t use or it just doesn’t fit (literally or figuratively), I try to tell the giver so it can be exchanged or something. I HATE doing that, but I also hate the thought of anyone’s money being wasted.

      I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others… yet I can’t help doing just that. Hell, the sister that bought me the laptop is super-successful… I am… not. See? There’s always a comparison… 😐

      Thank you for taking the time to reply… as usual, I agree with what you’ve said! 🙂


  6. Ok, first of all, your kids got all they asked for, correct? Secondly, did you talk to your kids to confirm they were disappointed their pile was smaller? Or, thirdly, were you projecting that disappointment because you felt inferior? And it’s my experience that spoiled children and flaunters are not to be envied. Besides, your kids will remember the Christmas sleepovers long after the piles of gifts will be forgotten. Don’t forget that. That’s a gift in andvof itself. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah… they got what they put on their lists… plus a few extra things. I talked to my kids. In fact, my son brought it to my attention… it didn’t start with me. He was nearly in tears after all the gifts were open because of the ridiculous pile my nephew had. It’s not that my son didn’t get what he wanted… he just felt like he didn’t have many gifts to open and my nephew is a little obnoxious and my son felt like crap. And my daughter felt a lot of that, too. And that made me really sad. And it made me feel like a bad parent. I know it’s not the goal to spoil my kids or buy them things they don’t want or need just so they have a lot of stuff… but it was a bit sickening to watch my sister and her kid.

      I know it’s not all about the gifts but seeing all of that… OH… and the way my little sister would stall with opening her gifts so they’d pile up so she had more to open when everyone was done. I guess so everyone would pay attention to her… Ugh. Hell, I got the best (material) gift of all… the laptop. My sister who bought it for me saved it until the end… then handed it to me. But it wasn’t the last gift opened because of my little sister stalling with her stuff… taking time to show off her ring… calling attention to her son’s gifts. Ugh.

      And you’re right about the sleepover… the kids love that… and it’s not because of the gifts. That’s why no matter how crappy the gift part was, I would never skip doing that…

      Thanks for all of that… I know you know how I am… and your perspective is always a lot brighter than mine…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I’ve heard of some families creating traditions of three gifts for each child, because of the three Wise men bringing gifts. Or something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I think a lot of people are simplifying the holidays now and cutting back on what they spend. Don’t let your sister make you feel inferior. You’re a great mom! But, yeah, I’m glad Christmas is over, too. It’s tiring…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks… ♥ I just can’t imagine Christmas without a bunch of gifts. I wish it wasn’t so focused on presents, but it just is. And to change things and take that away from my kids now would just be cruel. I’m sure as they get older, there will be fewer gifts. And that makes sense. But right now… I know it was hard for them to watch my nephew. And even if we adopted some tradition of fewer gifts, there’s no way my sister would follow suit!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hunida says:

    I am so sad to hear that you stayed up for three hours crying, Sandra. 😦 I can’t believe your sister J would bring all of the gifts especially the ring from her husband to the family get-together…they should have opened all those gifts at their own home, in my opinion. I don’t think she’s the better parent. You are. She definitely spoils him rotten and he’s ungrateful. Who wants a son like that? Ugh. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. The kids in my family, like my cousins and brothers used to cry when they didn’t get what they wanted. It was terrible. I’m happy that it ended in you receiving a laptop though, you really deserved it!! ❤ I'm happy the holidays are over too, whew!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Meg says:

    Ah! What everyone else said! There should be some sort of limit imposed to the number of gifts opened in the morning. What should have been fun and happy for everyone turned into a big production for your sister. Although, honestly, as the kids grow up and become adults, they might remember their cousin getting all that stuff but they will also realize that none of those ‘things’ were the important part of the day. I’m so happy you got a new laptop! That is a thoughtful AND practical gift! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really do think there’s a bit of attention-seeking going on there. and it worked… she got attention! Hell, especially when she kept stalling on opening the gifts she received so she was the last one to finish.

      I know the gifts aren’t the most important thing… it just broke my heart to see my kids feel bad.

      And yes… the laptop was a HUGE gift. That sister is very generous!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. gigglingfattie says:

    I think the thing to remember though is that the kids will remember feeling loved by you and your family. That’s what they will remember moving on. I don’t remember what I did or didn’t get growing up but I do remember the fun times that I had a child. Even when it wasn’t Christmas. You love your kids SOOO much and they know that and they can feel that. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always say that to the kids… and to my husband when he buys too many unnecessary things… for himself and others. I don’t think they truly get it… but while I remember a few things I got when I was a kid (Barbie Dreamhouse with an elevator, for example), what really stays with me is the stuff we did… the traditions.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Everything everyone else has said, and wow for the new laptop. Hope the ideas come thick and fast to make full use of it.
    Hugs, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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