Thursday, January 8, 2009


Alright, trying to get back in the swing of things after what seemed to be a very long December. I want to explain my title. I've been watching the show 30 Rock and saw the Christmas episode from last season where they had a LudiChristmas Party. Then the aha light went on and I realized that's ludicrous and Christmas put together. (duh!) And boy am I going with it. Every year the things we put ourselves through to make a spectacular presentation for our friends, family and children. And every year I swear I'm going to scale back, but somehow it still seems to be all consuming. Now, I don't want you to think of me as a grinch or a scrooge. I participate in the season's various activities, and I go out of my way to make sure the kids are delighted on Christmas morning, and I love to think of everyone who is important to me and how I can honor them with a gift or baked good or card at this time of year; but I can't help but ask every year when it's over - was it worth it?

Let me be honest for a moment here, the truth is I am not a Christian. I have a couple nativity scenes for the sake of it, but if you pressed me I'd have to say I do not believe in the virgin birth. (gasp) And in doing a little research, it seems the idea of Christmas started long before the arrival of Christ when the Pagans celebrated the sun and the beginning of the days lengthening again - hence brightest star, lights, trees and gifts. You don't have to agree with me, but even the Catholic church concedes that the 25th of December was not Christ's actual birthday, but rather a really good day to celebrate in order to convert all the Pagans of olden days. Brilliant if you ask me, but I'm not a Pagan either even if it does strike me as a fun alternative. I have some Jewish ancestors, but do not participate in Hanukkah, definitely no Kwanzaa, Ramadan also a no, and well, New Year celebrations are way past my bedtime.

And another thing about the whole Christmas season while I'm deep in the subject. It's wasteful. Don't let the economist hear me say this, but we spend so much of our resources on things we don't want, can't use, will forget about later, that end up in our landfills, are toxic to our bodies and the earth, won't get played with, take up more space, and rarely benefit our character. But every year we go in for another round on the credit cards, wrap it up, pay the postage, ship it off, have it delivered, put it under the tree, and pray someone will be thrilled for at least two hours on Christmas morning. I asked my sweet middlest child, Gavin, why he wanted Santa to bring him toys if he wasn't going to play with them, and I kid you not, his reply was,"because it's just fun to have things to open on Christmas day!" Out of the mouth of babes; it sums up my whole theory on our over-the-top, commercialized, frenzied holidays that I kill myself over every year for what seems to be just a moment of excitement.

So, why do I celebrate at all, you might ask? Tradition? My American Capitalism? Responsibility? I've thought about this one a lot over the last couple years. I've finally come to the conclusion that I am doing it to celebrate my love for my family and for the people I care about all year long but may not have found enough time to show them how I really feel. Non-the-less, when all the stuff is put back in boxes, and space is made in the house for new stuff, and the bills are paid off, and it's all said and done, I am exhausted.

I propose a new plan to you today to celebrate in true spirit of the season through the whole year and right up until next December: Let us serve others instead of ourselves. I would like to do a family service project as a gift to my children and my extended family. I can't bare the thought of one more year of the gimmies. So, though I will still send photos and well wishes, I will be thinking of you through the whole year as I work towards doing a little something for someone else. Please do not feel pressure to participate in this if it does not suit you, but also be kind to yourself and resist sending gifts. Santa will still come to the Conrad house (as long as my boys don't end up on the naughty list!), and we will know you love us even without a package to unwrap - I promise.


  1. HOLY CRAP that is a lot of gifts under that tree!

    Kel, I think that doing so much in December that you don't enjoy yourself or your time with your family isn't a good idea. You certainly have to let some things go in the name of sleep, sanity and pleasantness. And I think it's terrible to give children everything that their little hearts even remotely desire. Talk about raising a generation of spoiled monsters! I just watch "Fred Claus" this year (which I quite enjoyed) and loved the part where Santa says, "We are not in the business of giving every child every thing he/she asks for." Amen! My kids get their 3 gifts from Santa (and none from their parents--gasp! Call the authorities!) and are still THRILLED with the magic of Christmas morning.

    For years, Michael's mom has asked her children to give service to someone else as their Christmas gift to her, like you are suggesting. I think it's a nice idea.

    Another thing we do with his family is we draw names of families and then each family has to make a gift for that other family. It's only one gift for family and it's homemade. It's really fun to see what creative ideas everyone thought up to give each other.

    Last year I baked like 25 dozen cookies in one day and couldn't even stand up straight by the end of it. This year, I made a couple dozen to share at our family dinner and called it good. I just didn't want to do that to myself or my back again! My point with that is that we CHOOSE what kind of stressful holiday we have. We just have to make the choice for it to be more simple, like you said.

    Anyway, this is the longest comment in the history of the "Interweb" (30 Rock reference there, for your pleasure), but I think you made some good points and I just wanted to add my agreement to some of them.

    Take care! Miss you!

  2. Your blogs are so inspirational. They make me want to try harder.

    I totally agree about the wastefulness of Christmas. This year, we ended up taking several toys out from under the tree before the girls woke up. In hindsight, we could've removed a few more. I hate the idea of getting presents just to get things--not because they are needed.

  3. Great post. I am a fellow classmate at Writing 101. I completely agree with you. I had a similar revelation about Easter. I felt a compulsion to celebrate even though I no longer believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Was it simply a reason to eat chocolate? Not impossible. Was it just tradition? Guilt over denying my daughter something I got when I was a kid? I don't know but finally decided to celebrate the rebirth of the world in Spring (as the pagans have long done) and give my daughter (and myself) chocolate because I love us!

    Hope your project(s) go well for next Christmas!