Thursday, December 23, 2010

Counting Presents

Last night Sami and I sat up wrapping gifts.

It didn't take as long as I had thought - we only had a few. And I started to worry that we didn't have enough. I fell into the trap that pulls in so many - the trap that causes people to clog the aisles and circle the parking lots and ram other people with their shopping carts and whack small children in the heads with one of the 25 shopping bags they have slung over their arms as they race through the mall in a desperate attempt to buy "enough".

But here's the thing: if you can afford to buy all of that stuff, then chances are you already have enough.

So I counted the gifts. At first I was counting to make sure that it was fair - that the kids had gotten about the same amount. And it was fairly even. They each have 3 small -sized presents for their stockings, and one big joint gift to share, and then of course Santa will bring them each a present. And we also wrapped presents that had arrived in the mail from relatives, 2 for each child. And another joint gift. There are a few boxes under the tree as well, filled with more wrapped gifts from my family. But it is still nothing like the insanity I see depicted on TV, that I witness in town, that I hear other people describing.

And so, I worried. Gosh, people were talking and writing and complaining about how they had to do all of the wrapping - and our wrapping only took about 15 minutes. Total. And that includes getting everything back in the attic afterwards.

And then I started to project my worrying onto my kids. Which was so lame. While I was in the attic stashing the newly wrapped gifts and hoping the geckos didn't poop all over them in the next few days, I pulled out the kids' stockings, and left mine and Sam's in the box because we had decided not to exchange gifts this year. And I worried that the kids would worry that we weren't getting anything in our stockings. "Does Santa fill stockings?" I couldn't remember. "If I don't have a stocking, will they think Santa forgot? Or will they worry we couldn't afford gifts for each other?"
Because we could, you know. It's just that giving gifts just because it's Christmas doesn't seem genuine. We don't need a thing. We don't even have anything we particularly want. I know exactly what I *don't* want. I don't want my husband stressing about buying me a gift. I want us to lie around in our pajamas and watch the kids open their gifts and help them try on new clothes and bake cinnamon rolls and brew coffee and relax and maybe listen to some Christmas music. And then later, go to the beach and lie around in the warm sand stretching our legs and letting the sun wrap itself around us, warmer than any Snuggie, while the salt water dries on our skin and the kids build castles and play in the waves.

Living here in Hawaii is the greatest gift we could give each other. Sure, it's hard to be away from family during the holidays. And yes, our life would be easier in many ways if we had a lower cost of living. But I truly believe that growing up in Hawaii, with all of it's natural beauty and abundance, is a gift that we give our kids every single day.

Even on Christmas.
Even if it doesn't fit in a box, under the tree.
It still counts.

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