Sunday, December 11, 2011

Merry Christmas to Us!

For several years now, Ruanita and I have not bought one another Christmas presents. I could easily buy enough presents to fill the space below our tree. Ruanita, however, hates to shop. She despises shopping to her very core. And in all honesty, though she has many amazing and outstanding qualities, picking out gifts is not really her forte. Out of the kindness of my heart and in order to keep the holidays from being torture for Ruanita, we made the mutual decision years ago that we would not buy Christmas presents for one another. We have happily watched our children open presents on Christmas morning without a single gift under the tree with our names on them.

This year, I thought it would be fun if we simply did stockings for one another. I broached the topic with Ruanita, who grimaced in response. Yes, stockings can only hold small gifts, but small gifts must be purchased from a store. That means that Ruanita would have to shop--that dreaded activity she hates more than dental work and the DMV combined. She quickly hid her grimace (but not before I saw it) and attempted to smile sweetly. "Sure," she said. "We could do that. Sounds!" Yes, at that moment, I realized that my proposition would bring Ruanita nothing but anxiety and despair. However, when I mentally weighed her despair against my own desire for delightfully small paraphernalia (tiny iPods, watches, jewelry, gift cards, etc.), I couldn't help myself. "Great!" I effused. "It WILL be fun!"

Despite my best attempts to assuage my guilt by planning my shopping list, I couldn't help feeling bad about the way in which I had ambushed Ruanita. She truly hates to shop. She would gladly hand me a credit card and tell me to buy whatever I wanted, but that's not the same as opening a surprise gift. Right? Don't I deserve a gift?

Well, fast forward to today. The stocking idea has been shelved. We are not buying one another stockings this year. Rather, we have decided to put our money and energy toward something we can both enjoy without Ruanita having to do even a minuscule amount of shopping.

We are going on a family vacation.

We have decided that our Christmas gift to one another will be a week-long beach vacation. Ruanita, the kids, and I are going to spend a week at a rented beach house in North Carolina. We've done our homework and I think we have decided on Carolina Beach on the south shore of North Carolina. It is a cute little, family-friendly, less-touristy-than-Myrtle-Beach, less-expensive-than-the-Outer-Banks beach town.

After we thought about it for a while, we realized that we have not been on vacation together since two years before Lucas was born. We go to Kentucky every year, but that doesn't count. As much as we love seeing our family and friends, it is not the same as lounging on a beach with no agenda and no timeline. We usually feel like we have torush around to see all of our family. All of our friends. Ruanita's mother, who is in a nursing home. Who is crazy. Who is not nice to Ruanita. Who will send our kids $20 and say $18 is for Lucas, and Sophie and Nick can have a dollar apiece. Seeing her makes Ruanita anxious. Makes her frustrated and angry and guilt-ridden. Not exactly emotions conducive to a "vacation." We need a real vacation.

We won't be heading to North Carolina for another six months, but I am already dreaming of white sandy beaches. I am dreaming of loading my Nook with a half dozen excellent reads and lounging in a beach chair all day. I am already envisioning the excitement on my kids' faces when they see the ocean for the first time. I am already imagining the peace of watching a bright red sunrise on our private deck overlooking to ocean while sipping my coffee and breathing in the salty air.

Merry Christmas to us!


Madgew said...

I think this is a perfect gift for all of you and of course it will give us the best stories to read (being selfish). I think the only thing better would to go somewhere by yourselves and ship the kids out to friends even for a weekend.

Jessica said...

Sounds wonderful! Just a quick heads up though, the sand there isn't white, it is mostly brown. Most my life I had gone to the Gulf Shore (WHITE sand). The first time I went to North Carolina I thought the beach looked disgusting and dirty. It wasn't, it just wasn't the gleaming white sand I was used to--definitely brown, but still a beach and still wonderful.

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