I believe the line between childhood and adulthood is very clearly defined: the year that you find yourself no longer being excited about Christmas, you are officially an Adult. Some people never stop being excited, and I kinda envy them. For me, it was around the age of 19 or 20. I’ve always been able to derive some enjoyment out of getting my kids presents that they’ve been wanting and then seeing their reactions as they open them on Christmas morning, but other than that, I find Christmas to be overly commercialized, and just generally a little too invasive. The inescapable Christmas music alone is enough to make you want to rip your ears off. If you’re a person who isn’t all that fond of Christmas, this entire time of year is pretty annoying.
But just because I’m a bit of a grinch doesn’t mean that I want to spoil my kids’ enjoyment of the holiday. They’ll either get jaded like me on their own, or they won’t…it’s up to them. I simply try to provide the best Christmas I can for them every year, and if I can do that, I feel like I’ve done my job. This was the first Christmas together for Shauna and I, and I think we did a good job of pulling it off. We each brought our own traditions to the table, and we were able to merge them pretty successfully. We certainly had a bit of adversity along the way, but we powered through. Christmas 2017 in the Hesse/Lane household was a pretty memorable one.
Early in our relationship, Shauna and I talked about our respective opinions on Christmas, and what our families usually do to celebrate the holiday. I was pleased to find that Shauna had pretty much the same thoughts on Christmas as I do; if anything, she may even be a little more anti-Christmas than I am. It might even have been the very thing that made me realize I must marry this woman. Anyway, as time went on, we found ourselves having all the conversations that parents have to have: how much to spend on each kid, how to get each kid more or less what they want without breaking the bank, which day to do what with which persons family, etc We finally settled on spending spending Christmas Eve with Shauna’s family, and Christmas day with mine. As for presents for the kids, we had them do Amazon wishlists (not everyone got on board with this, but we improvised as best we could), and we ordered everything online in one fell swoop.
Which brings me to the aforementioned adversity. During the process of ordering gifts online, our card was somehow hacked into and someone used our bank account to make a purchase for airline tickets. I’ll spare you the horrific details, but a trip to the bank, many, many phone calls, and a vicious barrage of insufficient funds penalties later, we finally have the situation fixed (the bank is still conducting their investigation; I suppose they could still find that Shauna and I felt the need to book a flight to scenic Iraq this holiday season, but I feel confident that they won’t, since we obviously didn’t). In any event, with this ridiculous situation finally resolved, we finalized our plans and commenced with Operation: Christmas.
Shauna and I had to work Christmas Eve, but we were able to leave early (we weren’t really “able to”, we just did). Soon after getting home, Shauna’s mom, stepdad and sister arrived, and we all went to Panda Garden, our local Chinese buffet. Shauna’s family has a tradition of having Chinese food at Christmas, a tradition I found it quite easy to get on board with, as I enjoy eating in general, and Chinese food in particular. My 3 daughters, on the other hand, thought it a bit odd, but judging from the loud, fun atmosphere at our table, I think they had a great time. We left at the perfect time, considering we were likely moments from getting forcibly ejected due to an impromptu ice cream fight that erupted right at the end of our meal. We went home and and had our gift-shredding-open session; everyone seemed to be very happy with what they received, and Shauna and I looked at each other with a sense of relief and satisfaction that, despite everything, we had pulled it off. We ended the night by playing games into the wee hours, finally going to bed around 2 or so.
The next day we gave the kids their stockings, and loaded into the ol’ Explorer to head to my brothers house in Iowa City. The last few years the kids and I have had our Christmas festivities there; Jason and his husband Mark enjoy hosting everyone, and it’s usually about the only time of the year I get to see them. Jason, much like myself, isn’t a fan of traditional holiday food (turkey, stuffing, etc.), so instead he cooks a variety of pastas, and does something of an Italian buffet. Which, not unlike my kids and the Chinese food, Shauna and her boys found a little odd, but, also not unlike the Chinese food, they seemed to really enjoy. In particular, Jason makes this cheese bread that’s capable of bringing about world peace, and perhaps even ending world hunger, considering how much of it he makes. After eating, we all opened presents, and headed home.
So our first Christmas as a married couple and a blended family is in the books. Just today, Shauna and I took down the tree, and packed it away until next year. In some dusty, forgotten corner of my mind, there still exists the love of this time of year that was much more front and center when I was a child, and while the stresses and cynicism of adulthood have taken their toll, I still get a little melancholy knowing that Christmas is over for another year. Technically, Shauna and I still have a mini-Christmas to look forward to; we dedicated all of our available resources to giving the kids a good holiday, and decided to wait a couple months to get gifts for each other. We’ll probably shoot for sometime in February, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about when that happens. For now, I’m completely content knowing that I have an amazing wife, and an awesome family, and I say that’s the best Christmas gift of all.