Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
How was your Christmas? Did you get something good? Did you get something really bad? Did you get into an argument with your sister? Did you flip out with the stress?
My answers: Good. Yes. Yes. No (wow!). Yes.
On Christmas Eve someone said to me, “I hope you have a merry Christmas.”
I answered, “Thank you. Each year I simply pray that I don’t stress too much.”
It’s true. My Christmases are usually so busy I end up stressing because I’m trying desperately to remember sixty million things, juggle seven million tasks and keep my children in line. (And I’m not quite sure which is the most difficult).
And like any family gathering, you’re going to have someone snipe at someone else and hurt feelings abound. When I get together with my siblings we often fall into familiar childhood roles – which unfortunately for me, is the youngest one that they laugh at because it’s fun. And my childhood response is let them. I was conditioned to do it. Yes, I need to learn to stand up for myself. **scribbles on New Year’s resolution list**
But surprisingly things went rather smoothly this year.
Firstly, my mother-in-law had decided not to invite extra guests to our “family” Christmas breakfast. She remarked to me three times during the morning (and maybe more times to others) how nice it was to just have family. I had to bite my tongue to stop reminding her that I’ve been telling her that for over ten years now. So without the extra guests it meant, as a family, we could open presents whenever we wanted. I didn’t have to rush over to their house in the morning. I didn’t have to make small talk with people I didn’t know (which I can do, but it isn’t always easy for me). For the first time since I started dating my husband, I could relax at her house on Christmas morning.
Then we dashed off to have lunch at my sister’s house. It was a small gathering this year, with many of my siblings deciding to have their own at-home lunches. It took the pressure off the sibling relationships. My brother#1 didn’t do things “his own way” causing sister#1 to get upset which meant she sniped at sister#3, who in her turn would snipe at me. So I had a nice time, instead of crying in the bathroom as I have been known to do.
But what about the presents???
LOL – okay. Did I get what I asked for? Yes. I asked people to buy me an Amazon gift card. My family forgot, but my best friend showed me what being a best friend is all about by remembering. (Thanks BFF – I’ll need to dedicate another book to you). Hubby also bought me the new printer I asked for, and my in-laws bought me some new towels. (When stuck trying to think of a present for me, I always ask for towels. Towels are always needed.)
Did someone get it terribly wrong? <facepalm> That crown goes to my poor mother-in-law. The present for my daughter came with rather strict instructions: “She needs dresses. They need to be long – she’s so tall that most little girl dresses are indecent on her. The dress needs to be pink or purple. She will not wear any other colour. She won’t wear denim. She won’t wear shorts.”
The length thingy was a parental instruction. The bit about the colour, denim and shorts was a stubborn-mule-5yo-girl thing. I’ve fought with her for at least 3 years about it. She won’t wear shorts. And she definitely won’t wear denim. To make my life a little simpler, when it’s time to get dressed each day, I just go with the flow. Does it matter in the big scheme of things if my daughter wears only pink cotton dresses? I’m sure it’s just a phase.
Did MIL get it right? Only one out of three outfits. I’m sure those other outfits are very pretty. And yes, they’re pink. But they’re shorts. She won’t wear shorts. Did I not say that? SHE WILL NOT WEAR SHORTS. Now I’m going to need to find a suitable bribe in order for my daughter to wear the outfits at least once before I can retire them in the too-small-box.
I have a theory. The Renae-theory-about-presents is that you receive two types of presents:
1. Presents that people want for themselves, so they are sure you will love it, because they do.
2. Presents that people think you want, because that’s how they perceive you.
Neither presents are given without thought – because I know that my family love me and want me to enjoy the presents. But sometimes you wish you didn’t get some things. Sometimes you love something – but after six years of only receiving ladybird-themed gifts, you wish you never let that little nugget of information drop.
My sisters are mostly in the second category of gift givers.
Sister#3 has me pegged – she always manages to buy me a great present. This year I received a nice stationery set of post-it notes in different sizes. Yes – I’m a list maker and this will be great.
Sister#5 doesn’t cook. She has no interest. But she thinks I do, and therefore loves to buy me stuff that has to do with cooking. Often a lot of fun. But often impractical stuff. Each year I get something wildly weird to do with cooking. This year was a cupcake ferris wheel. A what? Yep! A miniature ferris wheel that holds eight cupcakes. It’s cute. It’s ultra cute. Let’s just hope I don’t have crowd at my next party, because there’s only eight cupcakes, people. **wink**
Sister#1 thinks I like wildly bright clothes. It’s true, I don’t shy away from the bright reds and blues. But sometimes…
However my maternal parent is in the first category of buyers. For the explanation of my gift this year, I must digress.
As a child my room was painted pink. When sister#3 moved out of home, I happily installed myself in her room (the first time in my life I didn’t have to share a room!) and I revelled in the fact it was yellow! **throws confetti** When I was about 12, my mother decided to put vertical blinds in all the rooms. She asked me what colour I wanted.
“Yellow. Maybe light blue or cream,” I replied.
I got pink.
Yellow room + pink curtains = hell for a teenager already in hell.
When I was 19, sister#5 moved out and I could move into the larger bedroom. Mum gave me permission to paint the room any colour I wanted.
“Blue,” I said.
“Oh. How about green or pink?” Mum asked.
Nope! I was finally, at 19 years of age, getting a say in the colour of my room. I picked blue! (It still had pink curtains, but nothing is perfect).
Two years later I bought my own house. Hubby and I lovingly went through the entire house and painted over all the pink, grey and green walls the previous owner preferred, and painted our house yellow. The bedrooms were blue. The couch was a bright blue. The carpet was cream. We loved our cream/yellow/blue colour scheme, and we still have it today, although a little more on the cream/beige and less on the yellow.
Several years ago my parents build a new home. Mum picked the colours — the tiles, the curtains, the walls, the cupboard doors, the skirting — from scratch. I tell people that every time I visit her house I feel like I’m living inside a lolly. It’s Candyland! Her entire house is soft pink and light green with rose embellishments. The lounge is a rose print. The pictures on the walls are full of pink roses and green leaves. The tiles in the bathroom are pink with roses.
So, to say that my mother and I have different tastes is putting it mildly. So when I opened the present and saw painted roses on a white background, I knew mum had found something that would look great on the wall. In her house.
I really feel so bad about not feeling more grateful about some of the presents I received. I’m a bad, bad, bad girl.
So if my family stumble across this blog, know that I really did love the presents. Thank you for thinking of me and my kids at Christmas. I hope you all enjoyed your presents too.
Because there is one thing I’m very grateful for. At least I didn’t get toothpaste. Again. Yes. I received toothpaste for a birthday gift once. MIL wears that crown too.
Next week: New Year’s Resolutions
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