By Jeremy G. Schneider, MFT
Ahhh, the holiday season. The season of lights and presents and holiday cheer. The season of shopping and stress. The season of overwhelment. But this year we have a solution to it all. This year, we’re going to Disneyworld!
Not only are we one of those families where we have both Jewish and Christian members so we celebrate Chanukah at our house and Christmas with my wife’s family, but we also celebrate a birthday during December as well.
Okay, we celebrate four birthdays during the month of December.
Well, to be completely honest we celebrate four birthdays in one week of December. In our family, we have four birthdays during one week and then we spend 51 weeks of the year recovering from and preparing for that one week.
My children were born a day before my wife’s birthday. In fact, her birthday present that year was getting to hold her children for the first time (they were born 2.5 months early and were in the NICU – we didn’t actually try to have all of our birthdays in the same week). My birthday is four days after my wife’s and we often spend those days teasing each other – me about how old she is and her about how much of a baby I am. My wife is four days older than I am and those four days are the only days of the year anyone would ever know. Since we’ve been together, she and I have always shared a birthday party together. When our children were born, well, we didn’t have to schedule another party, did we?
For their first birthday we threw a very small gathering for family. It was lovely but obviously the kids had no idea what was going on yet. The second year we threw our traditional party for all of us – with four birthday cakes! They were young enough to understand they were having a lot of fun and family kept coming over and giving them more presents. Each time family came over someone brought another cake and we celebrated someone’s birthday one more time. Between Chanukah, our birthdays, and Christmas we were lighting candles and handing out presents almost every single night it seemed. By the time January rolled around and there were no more candles or presents after dinner they asked us, “Where are candles? Presents?” That was our first inkling as to how overwhelming and challenging this was going to be.
By the time last year rolled around we threw a birthday party for them and their friends from pre-school and then afterwards threw a party for ourselves – though again we had the four cakes (everyone gets to choose which kind they want like Baby Einstein or Butterflies or ice cream cake). We tried better to control the number of presents they received and even hid a whole box of them (then we were able to give them a new present every month or so), but the entire month still ends up being so overwhelming and truly takes its toll on all of us. It is just too much. It is truly a year of celebrations squished into two weeks. My wife and I have joked about running away, maybe taking a cruise for that week or something. This year we got an opportunity to go to Disneyworld and we took it.
I have no doubt it will still be an overwhelming week in the Magic Kingdom, but it will be a week of only us together, away from the chaos of presents and cakes and celebrations.
This year we won’t be focusing on presents and cakes and candles. This year we will be celebrating the birth of our wonderful family, a family that during this holiday season is reason enough for me to celebrate.