Pitiful as I have been at blogging this year, I still can't believe I haven't given my few faithful readers the low down on our Christmas adventure to Haiti. Looks like this is going to be a multi-part post, so stay tuned for "the rest of the story".
Sometime last summer, the kids concocted the idea of skipping Christmas...you know...Nora and Luther Krank's idea of no presents, no tree, no Christmas anything and going to Haiti to spend Christmas with our friends the Brooks in Gonaives. If you haven't read Grisham's book, Skipping Christmas, AND seen the Jamie Lee Curtis/Tim Allen flick, "Christmas with the Kranks", you are missing a treat...but I divert. Patrick and I asked the kids questions. Lots of questions like: So, you know this means no presents? Zip, Zero, Nada? They said they were fine with that. They just wanted to make a mission trip as a family. And you also know Mom's not decorating the house. No tree, no garland, no lights? It's like Luther says, "A total boycott!" They assured us that was perfectly fine.
Somehow that gave me pause. A part of me wanted to jump up and down and cheer. No tree, no decorating the house...think of all the money and time in December that would save me. Nutcracker wasn't in the cards for the year, so it was like I was adding a whole month to my life that had been annually missing for the last 8 years. Then a part of me wanted to cry. The kids don't even care about all the things I've done to make Christmas special for the past umpteen years. I wanted to have a bit of a pity party - and feel like a failure that my kids can do without all the traditions I've created (or thought I had created) to make Christmas, well...Christmas. But I confess, the thrill of a short term mission trip together (which also meant less holiday stress for me) won me over. Besides, it might be nice to see Christmas from the perspective of being an observer of holiday materialism rather than a participant.
Sometime in mid September, while Kevin was gallivanting about Europe, we took the plunge and bought six tickets from Miami to Port au Prince. As excited as I was, I wasn't certain *I* could do Christmas without buying gifts. I LOVE giving gifts. I was beginning to think I was going to be the problem child in all the Haiti preparations, since it was really me all along who loved the tree, the traditions, and seeing the smiles of surprise on Christmas morning. Almost daily I would wake and resolve NOT to think of gift giving and Christmas decorations. I realized I had been conditioned to be a part of Christmas commercial madness, and this whole "cold turkey" approach was probably good for me.
In hind sight, I'll probably never see the trappings of Christmas quite the same. In the future, I think I'll be able to see the decorations and parties as a way to facilitate the real meaning of Christmas rather than be the focus of the holiday season. It's something I've always wanted to do, but in retrospect, probably failed to accomplish. All in all, even if you don't go on a cruise (like the Kranks planned to do) or visit the poorest nation in the western hemisphere like the Eades, I highly recommend a year of "Skipping Christmas" to adjust your perspective.