We are part of the conspiracy.
December is full of "Are you ready for Christmas?" which is a euphemism for "Did you buy all your presents yet? Are you sure you have enough presents? Did you remember great aunt whatshername? How much did you spend on your kids? What did you get for your parents? Your husband? Are you sure you're totally done?"
To which I reply: Of course I am ready. Santa is very low-key in our house. He brings one gift to each person. No, this gift is not a Powerwheels quad or an iPhone 3G or a new car. No, Santa did not put gifts on my credit cards, and no, he did not buy people things on their "lists."
In our house, Santa gives from the heart.
This year, Santa is bringing the boys each a bead-wire maze. You know, those bead-wire toys that you always see in doctors' offices and you always wonder where you could get one. Mrs. Ho Ho Ho went on the internet and found a baby-sized one for Kees and a regular one for Sacha, and it took me an hour to wrap them since the man in red doesn't do wrapping and I have been told by some that I should never seek employment at those booths in malls that wrap presents for you. I'm that bad.
I also bought each boy a nursing necklace with their names on them, as I thought it would make a great keepsake. These are going in their stockings.
As for the parents, I made them a custom calendar featuring about 80 photos from their kids and grandkids, as well as all the birthdays and anniversaries from the family. It took me about 4 hours of work per calendar (one for my family, one for the out-laws) but they really are worth it.
And I will not reveal what I bought Tony, as he reads this blog. (Hi Tony. I am not an idiot. You will have to wait until Christmas.) We also gave a couple gifts to godchildren (we have 2) and our niece and nephew, which Sacha helped pick out and wrap (that was an exercise in patience).
Sacha also made a special gift for his Grandma and his Baba (which they haven't opened yet) with moderate adult intervention. Kees kissed their cards. Or tried to eat them. Either way, he left his mark.
Christmas cost us about $3oo this year.
So what did we do with all the extra money that could have been spent on novelty gifts and miscellaneous Christmas crap? Tony and I have made it a tradition to donate to charities as part of our Christmas giving. We donated about $200 above and beyond our habitual acts of charity. Do we benefit from this? Not directly (unless you consider a tax receipt). Someone else, however, will benefit from our gift more than we can possibly imagine.
And that thought is enough to keep me happily humming Jingle Bells all year long.
That, and Sacha is obsessed with the Barenaked Ladies version of Jingle Bells. There will be an uprising when I put that CD away after the holidays.