The Crystal Spider
I remember as a kid every Christmas we would go to my Grandpa and Grandmas house. I don't remember anything about getting ready to go or even getting in the car. I actually only remember two things about the car ride, I remember looking out the window and seeing the "lake" that told me we were getting close and I remember the last turn that took us down the dirt road with the woods on both sides and at the end of that road was their house, I remember a couple birthday parties and wrapping up in old blankets and rolling down the hill in front of their house, I remember years later after the fire going fishing once with my cousin. Christmas is what i remember the most. My grandma would make rock candy, the adults would go in the dining room and play cards. I remember my grandpa drinking "rusty water" and the kids would look around the tree to find the crystal spider. Every year grandpa would hide a crystal spider in the tree and we would spend hours looking for it, but he was the best at hiding things because we would spend hours looking for the spider and we would never find it. Eventually it would be time to start the festivities so grandpa would come out and show us where it was, he was the best. I can't tell you a single present I got from them growing up, but I will never forget looking for that spider.
I'm a lot older now, and looking back I know that "rusty water" was a glass of scotch and I'm pretty sure the spider was in grandpa's pocket and us searching for it was to keep us out of the dining room so we didn't bother the card game, grandpa was pretty smart. Why do I remember the spider but not any of the presents? Is it possible that we remember what really matters and, no matter what society wants you to believe, it isn't the presents? The traditions are what is going to stick in your head, those little things your family does to make it special are the things you will talk about forty five years later, whether it be putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving or the certain game you play every year. Every family has its own traditions and its perfectly ok for them to change or evolve as the family grows, don't be so strict on the tradition that it takes away the fun. I've actually made a new one this year because our family has grown to the point were it could be a financial burden to make everyone happy with presents so I gave my kids a limit and asked what they wanted. My mom used to do that with me because she wanted to get me things that I wanted but wouldn't spend the money on myself. What that did for me was become the guy that enjoyed watching everyone else open gifts because I already knew what mine were. A couple of my kids, not sure if they realize it or not, will also play that roll because they wanted their presents early.
I think as a society, our spending during the holiday season is out of control, the thought that love comes from a present wrapped in fancy paper has become all too real. The need to make each year better, and by better I mean spend more in an attempt to make your kids happier. A month later your deeper in debt and the toys are in the toy box or in the corner of the basement and the thrill is gone. Soon there will be a birthday to try and make them happy again.
I'm in no way trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom over the holidays, I love them. I enjoy being able to buy something for my kids that they wouldn't get for themselves during the year. If spending thousands of dollars over the holidays truly makes you happy then by all means do it. Would having a family breakfast and spending the day playing games be more memorable though? We all know the thrill of the toy is over within a week. I've had a couple thoughts that I had for next year. One of them was to play Santa and keep track of my kids "naughty" and "nice" actions and get a gift based on the result. The other was instead of a present I could diy some casino games in the garage and give them all a certain amount to play. Just an attempt to take the attention off the presents and focus on having fun as a family. The point of life, including the holiday seasons, is to be happy. My catch phrase for the week seemed to be "you are responsible for your own happiness" there was a lot of people needing to hear it this week. What that means in regards to the holidays is this, If you love to buy presents for people and that is what truly makes you happy and financially your ok doing it, then do it. If you are trying to buy someones love, you should probably re evaluate your relationship with that person. If your hoping someone is going to make you happy with a certain gift, I would highly advise you buy it yourself, you don't want to be let down and being mad at getting the wrong gift really just makes you look spoiled.
Just closing thoughts, Grandpa passed away when I was in first grade, this year will be the first Christmas without my mom and dad. The memories I have are all memories of them. It would probably be a challenge for me to remember ten presents over the years but i'll always remember their smiles at the family gatherings and that damn crystal spider. Until next time have a happy, hippie life.