My son hates Christmas. Not in a selfish, Scrooge-like way, but in an I-can’t-stand-the-consumerism kind of way. Year after year he repeatedly asks us not to give him anything. We have really pared down, but can’t quite stand to give his sister presents while buying nothing for him. He is steadfast however, and the few presents we buy sit unopened under the tree. He removes himself from celebrations and refuses to be sucked into the seasonal hype. Christmas is not singled out. He also hates Valentine’s Day (stupid excuse to buy junk) and St. Patrick’s Day (stupid excuse to get drunk). Easter holds no appeal. The egg hunt was wasted on him. While everyone else hunted for eggs, he chucked the basket and went off to investigate how the water fountain worked.
How about Fourth of July? Too dangerous, too loud. The first time we bought “safe and legal” fireworks, he got hysterical and tried to pull his twin sister away from where we were lighting them. He was screaming in panic and she was screaming at him for pulling her away. A whole different kind of fireworks happened that night.
Halloween? He refused to wear a costume and wondered why we would support a holiday that encourages kids to go around begging candy from strangers. The only costume he ever willingly put on was his Captain Underpants costume. He was going through a Captain Underpants phase and while he wouldn’t wear it for trick or treating, he wore it everywhere else for weeks.
I thought he might accept Thanksgiving. What could be wrong with gathering your family, being thankful, and eating a meal together? In a word, excess. He hates the burgeoning table, when so many world-wide go hungry. He hates that a living creature has been reduced to the centerpiece of a meal.
This year he finally agreed to join us for dinner. He put some yams, bread, and broccoli on his plate and we began to eat. It seemed like we might have a congenial meal together. Then someone gave the dog a bit of turkey and said, “This is a day for all creatures to be thankful.” To which my son replied, “What about the turkey? It’s a creature and I don’t think it’s very thankful.” I looked at the carcass of what was once a happy, free range, organic Diestel turkey and sighed. Somehow this carefully prepared, highly anticipated dinner wasn’t going to taste as good as I had hoped.
So here we are back to Christmas again. As I look at my daughter’s very long list, I feel the stress begin to creep across my shoulders. What can we buy him that he might actually use, that allows us to feel like he had a Christmas, but will still honor his wishes? We are not crass consumers; our Christmas is usually modest. Each year we spend a good portion of our Christmas money on a charity that each child gets to choose. Despite everything, I just can’t quite bring myself to get him nothing at all.
I’m mulling it all over when he walks into the room and hands me a paper. On it he has written a website address. He informs me that he would like the V-tech 5x5, 6x6, and 7x7 Rubik’s cube set for Christmas! I am stunned. I recover and tell him thanks for giving me his Christmas list and he skips out of the room. A big grin spreads over my face. My son is doing something so normal for a nine year old boy. I’m really, really happy! Maybe our holidays might start to resemble my fond childhood memories after all.
Then my son pokes his head back in the door and says, “Mom, I want to have those Rubik’s cubes as soon as UPS delivers them. I think it is stupid to hide them and wrap them up and make me wait till Christmas morning to open them.” Sigh…