Shopping for Children

10 Dec

We’ve always lived in the same city as my dad’s adopted family.

When I was young, I enjoyed the holiday gatherings because it was hectic, chaotic, and fun. My brother and I were nine years younger than the cousin closest to us in age, so naturally, we were spoiled and doted upon.

When I was young, there were 7 regular people in addition to our family of four – with the potential of 6 more, depending on the year.

Fast forward twenty years: one aunt and uncle have moved to a retirement town and never make contact; one cousin moved to the States (where she is married with four young children); one aunt is divorced and has all but cut off contact with the family (not a big loss); one aunt is dead; two more cousins moved to the States and usually come home in in the summer; my brother moved to Alberta.

Now our family Christmas dinner consists of my amazing selfless mother (who continues to do all the work for this strange family), my dad (who complains the whole time), my 83 year old Uncle and his 54 year old son (who is unable to have a conversation), my 52 year old Uncle and his 48 year old girlfriend (both are unable to have a lengthy conversation). Oh yeah, and me, Jason, and the boys.

Thank the sweet Lord for children! They really do make the holiday get-togethers bearable (if they happen to be UNbearable!).

I wonder if my brother and I as young adorable children made these get-togethers bearable for my mom…

One thing that hasn’t changed over all the years is that the youngest members of the family are given gifts.

I can remember, as a young child, getting amazing gifts from two aunt and uncle couples, and presents from their four combined children (who probably enjoyed shopping for their wee cousins), and always a movie from another uncle. There was always Christmas money in there too.

I loved getting all the gifts, but I also remember being embarrassed and guilty. These people, who I only saw a few times a year, spoiled me rotten!

And the guilt is still here, twenty-some years later. These people (now just my one old uncle) are buying my boys presents – and they only see them a few times a year!

Every family has problems and this strange ever-shrinking mixture of people is no exception. Again, thank God for the children! My brother and I brought out joy and magic in a stale family tradition that had been stagnating for years prior to our arrival.

And it got worse and worse until my first child was born. What a lot of responsibility for my boys! The youngest members of a family are again charged with revitalizing something that’s been dead for years.

So, in that regard, perhaps those gifts that I feel so guilty about accepting are very much deserved.

But aside from all that, people love shopping for babies and children. My 83 year old uncle said these babies are the only ones he’s got and ever will have (meaning, he won’t have grand children), and we can’t take away his joy of shopping for children!

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