OK, go ahead. Call me Scrooge. I can take it, mostly because it fits. As soon as they took down the Halloween decorations at the store, Christmas was up. I couldn't escape it. Shiny bows, lights, greenery, smiling Santa mugs. Everywhere you look Christmas has sprung. And don't even get me started on the holiday music...
Every year at this time I get a tightness in my stomach, not to mention my wallet, regarding what is supposed to be a magical time of year.
But between the gift buying, wrapping, decorating, Christmas cards and planning Christmas gatherings, there's not much time to enjoy the magic. All my friends who are mothers express the same issues to me. The magnitude of the demands placed on us seem to take the fun out of the season. Every year I say I'm going to simplify things. Every year I fail to figure out a way to do this and end up on the same treadmill of holiday chaos.
As a child I loved Christmas. I remember meticulously making homemade cards and gifts for my family. I was so excited for them to open them up on Christmas morning. I don't get that same feeling now when someone opens a sweater from Nordstrom's. I do still, however, feel the holiday spirit when we give gifts to various charities and families in need. But I always feel like we need to do even more in this area and less for those who have everything they need.
So, I guess I am a Scrooge, but it's not that I don't like Christmas. I just don't like what it has increasingly become - a commercial holiday focused on gifts and spending money.
My perfect Christmas would involve my family being together and not having one gift under the tree. That in itself would be a gift - simply being with the people you love and focusing on that blessing. I know this is unrealistic when you have children. I fully understand that the magic of Christmas revolves around children and in part, their excitement over what Santa brings them.
But maybe someday we can have the kind of Christmas I dream about. For now I will buck up, plow through the season and concentrate on the gifts I have that don't come in a pretty box.
Amanda Lamb is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here on Mondays.