I want to start out by saying I’m not complaining. Really. I’m just contemplating the holidays…
For the first time in many years, I took my three kids to Los Angeles to celebrate Hanukkah with my Dad and have a bit of a collective holiday. We had a good time, though the last few days my son G- got sick, which was a drag. Still, visits to the beach, Dana Point and the always terrific San Diego Zoo were definite highlights.
I admit, though, traveling for the holidays is tricky because gifts then require advance thought and planning, something that I’m good at, but that my kids are not. The result: when we got on the plane I had all their gifts purchased, wrapped and hidden in my suitcase. They had nothing. Nothing for me, nothing for each other, nothing for Papa.
While we were there, I reminded them again and again that Hanukkah was coming up in a few days and that they should start making cards and scheming about presents. I suggested that their #1 priority was Papa since we’d not celebrated Hanukkah with him for years (and since this was his first holiday season without my Mum in the picture), and some sort of presents for each other and something for me, ideally.
The day before Hanukkah we did get to the local Mall and G- and K- managed to find small presents for each other (purchased on the sly, of course). My teen, A-, stayed in the hotel reading rather than go to the Mall. She then came up with a great gift for her brother (an In-N-Out T-shirt) but that was the extent of gifts.
Then they finally started working on their holiday cards. And then spent hours and hours on them. So many hours that we were late for a big family get together and they still needed a few hours the following day too.
But none of them had any presents for Papa, none of them had presents for me, and it was, well, disappointing. I went out and rounded up some gift cards that they each gave Papa, but that was me filling in the hole, not them saying “where does Papa like to eat with his friends?”. I had a present from all of us too, a photo book from Shutterfly, but…
It was a disappointment. I was disappointed to get three nicely made cards plus a bit of a gag gift from my Dad and nothing else. And I was even more disappointed that my kids, even after weeks and weeks of encouragement and discussion, hadn’t pulled off anything for my Dad. My oldest did share with me that she had wanted to make a photo calendar for both me and my Dad (and, presumably, for her Mom too), but on Hanukkah morning she still hadn’t taken even the first step and would need my credit card to order the calendars anyway, so that’s all talk, no action, to be rather blunt.
I realize that they’re kids and that, frankly, kids are more focused on the receive than the give part of gift exchanges, but still, where do we go from here? I’m disappointed in my kids and disappointed in the whole holiday experience this year. They can do better. They can at least think of each other, but, darn it, they should be able to come up with something, anything, for the adults in their lives and not end up wasting half our vacation (or so it seemed) creating these elaborate — beautiful — cards that they could have far more easily drawn weeks earlier.