Every year, we say we’re cutting back on Christmas presents. And every year, we go a little crazy anyhow.
So December 25 has always been one big bloated day of blatant materialism. Even the dog had her own little pile, which she mounted and guarded for dear life.
It’s been great fun.
But this year, we mean it. We’re cutting back.
My oldest daughter, Christie, in fact, declared some months ago that because she had enough stuff and we all had enough stuff, she no longer wanted to exchange gifts. For the rest of her life.
She’s still very generous. It just doesn’t translate into things you buy at the mall. Last weekend, for instance, she treated her sisters to dinner at Olive Garden followed by “Holiday Nights in Greenfield Village.”
And this Christmas morning, without spending a dime, Christie will come by with a surprise gift we’ll always remember.
Fresh from an ultrasound on the 23rd, she and her husband will tell us whether they’re expecting a boy or a girl.
I’m gonna be a granny!
If you’re a grandparent, you’re thinking how much I’m going to love it. And if you’re not, you’re thinking that makes me sound very old.
As a two-time mother of the bride this past year, I knew grandchildren wouldn’t be too far behind. And I knew Christie didn’t want to wait long. The Estimated Time of Arrival is May 18, just three days after her anniversary.
My husband says I shouldn’t be writing about all this because a) I know nothing about grannihood yet, and 2) can’t I keep ANYthing private?
Actually, I do know about grandparenthood because every person I know who is one gets that smile on his or her face whenever the subject comes up.
“It’s the best thing ever. You get to love ‘em up, and send ‘em back home.”
One woman told me it’s the only good thing about getting old.
Whenever we run into our friends, Tom and Sue McCartney of Saline, they’re holding at least one of their five grandchildren. And smiling.
“We love our grandkids so much, I’m not sure I can put it into words,” says Tom. “There’s nothing I’d rather do than spend time with them. I don’t remember a time in my life when I was happier. And it gets better every day.”
I was 24 when I gave birth to Christie. And although I read all the books I could squeeze into nine months, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. What the heck do you do with a whole, real, live person?
I had told my mother not to come up from Illinois immediately after I had the baby because Gary and I would want some time alone with him or her. Little did I know my emotions would be like a roller coaster on crack. Up, down, joy, despair. Christie wanted to nurse non-stop. I wanted to sleep. Christie cried a lot. I wanted to sleep.
So I was never so happy to see anyone at my door as I was the moment my mother finally arrived with her suitcase.
“You just go back to bed like a great big milking cow, and I’ll handle everything,” she said.
Ahhh. A cow! How perfect. All I had to do was milk and sleep. And Mother would handle the rest. I think I sobbed with joy.
Especially now that I am in possession of Everything There Is To Know about pregnancy/labor/childbirth/breastfeeding/childcare, I want to be that kind of mother-of-the-mother.
I want to be a big help without coming across as a know-it-all. (That might be tough.) I want to be there to lighten the burdens of parenting – which at times is more difficult than expectant parents can imagine. And I can’t wait to watch Christie and Don fall more and more in love with their child. They think they know. But again, they have no idea.
While in many ways I’ve enjoyed parenting older children even more than little ones – a phenomena that can be spelled f-r-e-e-d-o-m – there is something yummy about those early years.
Yes, Christmas is all about family, fellowship, and spiritual connection. But let’s face it. It’s a lot more fun when shared with a wide-eyed child bedazzled by the magic.
That’s why I’m already looking forward to Christmas 2010, when the baby will have become an essential part of our lives. I want only one gift: One of those hokey World’s Best Grandma mugs. And to know in my heart I deserve it.
About the author: Jo Mathis is an Ann Arbor-based writer.