Each year, my family enters the Tsunami party season. I love a good celebration and I never met a ritual I didn't like but even my social worker self gets overwhelmed this time of year. Myself, my sister, her daughter, my daughter, my son, and my mother-in-law all have birthdays within the next four weeks. I also carry a bit of a chip on my shoulder vis-a-vis my own day after Christmas birthday...not against my family, just against the universe. I do not, for the record, appreciate my birthday gifts being wrapped in Christmas paper. I have come to appreciate the dual Christmas/birthday present, which has resulted in this year's Iphone. Yipee.
Anyway, I approach the season with grave determination, a trifle less humor than is necessary to make it through unscathed, and the desire to give each child their own day. I also am learning to listen to what they would like to do, instead of imposing my own sense of festivities on them. Emma wanted to go to Magic World and her heart's desire was to have a bird perch on her finger. This was never my heart's desire for myself or for her so I spent two weeks trying to talk her out of it. She is my own little daughter in terms of tenacity and at age 6, can hold her own. I don't know what this will mean for both of us when she is sixteen, but she may be spending some summers in Texas...or maybe, I will learn that listening to your children is the greatest gift you can give them. I have never seen a group of kids having more fun. The adults were pretty festive, as well.
So, I will add my voice to the choir that is singing about taking a step back this season, and cutting out the stuff that doesn't matter, meeting your friends and family where they are, and forgiving your ungrateful sister/daughter/wife when they complain that the beautiful gift you got them is wrapped in the wrong paper. I'm working on appreciating the magic of the season.