Christmas Stress

A Close-Up of MY tree!I used to love Christmas.

I loved everything about it.  The feeling in the air that started right after Thanksgiving and built up in intensity the closer it got to the big day.  The way everything seemed to sparkle just that little bit more because it was that time of year.  I loved the gaudy decorations that seemed to crop up everywhere you looked.  I loved the Christmas songs that you would hear on the radio, in stores, in peoples’ homes.  I loved Christmas movies, where everybody lives happily ever after once they discover the real meaning of Christmas.  Hell, I even used to love seeing the Salvation Army Santas ringing their bells and calling out “Merry Christmas!”

Then I had kids.

Or, I should say, then my kids got older.  When they were younger, it wasn’t such a big deal.  They loved Christmas as much then as they do now, but they didn’t care where their toys came from.  I could go to a resale shop and buy them a whole bunch of (good condition but) used toys and they would just be happy that they got something.  But now, they want everything they see, regardless of whether or not it’s something they’ll play with beyond Christmas day and certainly without regard to how much it costs.

I remember doing the same thing, though.  I would sit down with the Toys ‘R Us book, and go from cover to cover, putting everything I could possibly want on my list.  But I had a cunning plan.  I figured if I wrote down everything I wanted, I was sure to get something I wanted.  Of course, there were certain things that I really wanted more than others, but all in all, I figured if I did it that way, I was sure to get at least something on my list.  (And my grandmother, bless her, would make sure I got the things I really wanted, even if it took her years to save up the money.  When Cabbage Patch Kids first came out, I wanted one so bad I could taste it.  But Christmas came and went, and no CPK.  But the next year?  The next year I got TWO!!!)

But as a kid, I (obviously) had no idea how much pressure that put on my grandmother.  Until now, when I’m feeling that pressure myself.  My kids want this, that, and the other thing.  But then there’s rent to pay, a phone bill that needs to be paid or I won’t be able to call home on Christmas day (and my entire family is going to be at the homestead for the holiday!  I absolutely MUST call home!!), gas needs to be topped up (we have a pre-pay meter), so does the electric… and I have to somehow figure out what I’m going to get for these kids that won’t be too disappointing for them.  I’m torn between being a responsible adult/parent and giving my kids the kind of Christmas memories that I have.

My grandmother always sends money in lieu of presents on the holidays, simply because shipping charges are astronomical (she’s sometimes paid more for shipping than she did on the items themselves).  This year she decided to send us American Express Gift Cards.  Okay… no problem, right?

Wrong!

These things say ON THE CARDS that they are to be used in the US ONLY.  Um… we live in the UK.  We’ve lived here for nearly five years now.  I absolutely love my grandmother, but she can be such a dolt at times.

The thing is, we were counting on this money.  It doesn’t amount to all that much – only about £120 or so (when you consider the fact that there’s six of us in this family, that’s not much).  But it still would have made a big difference.

I am going to try and use them on amazon (I already checked, and they do accept AmEx, I’m just not sure if these specific cards are going to work).  But to get these things and then find out that we can’t use them… it just added stress to my stress to my stress.

Not fun.

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3 Responses

  1. Aww, darlin’. I’m sorry you’ve been having a stressful holiday season. I can’t offer much but an internet cup of tea. And a couple of “woo woos” (what I say to my friends when they’re stressing. It usually gets me a giggle or two.) 🙂

    Oh, and I can’t say I’m familiar with the American Express gift cards, but if they’re anything like the Visa ones, they can be used anywhere the card is accepted. So you should be clear to use them online. I hope this gives you a bit of extra cheer. Happy Holidays!

  2. […] to try and order the kids some gifts from their grandmother with those AmEx cards she sent and I see this big headline […]

  3. […] wrote an interesting post today on Christmas StressHere’s a quick […]

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