By: Sheana Ochoa
This year was the first Christmas I did not have the money to buy presents for my nieces and nephews. Not one of them noticed (that I know of) last weekend as the family got together to celebrate the holiday a week before Christmas, which has become our tradition in order to let everyone’s respective families celebrate their own Christmas on the actual day.
It’s interesting how all these years I put pressure on myself to buy everyone gifts, sometimes dreaded it and spent money I did not have. In the end, it was always more fulfilling watching people open the gifts I had given them than to open the gifts I was given. But now I realize my motive behind giving gifts was not just the pleasure of giving, but of the satisfaction I got out of giving, the way it recreated some of that childhood magic I missed, especially when my nieces and nephews were kids.
Now I have my own son and at 28 months, he’s old enough to open presents and realize what’s going on. And there are also two other additions to the family, even younger than he is. Everyone’s attention was on the babies and my nieces and nephews, some now in college, became observers the way all my siblings had become once they started having families of their own. I’m the baby of the family and gift-giving was my way of holding on to that feeling of wonderment, missing the days of old when I was a little girl the night before Christmas so excited about the next morning’s festivities. For years, while my siblings had families of their own, I was still single. Christmas with them was my only shot at recapturing something I felt I had lost. Now I realize, it wasn’t something lost, but something I hadn’t created for myself yet.
Now I have my own family and this will be the first year on my own with my son. (Last year I was still ill postpartum and felt like a hanger-on to my sister’s Christmas.) For the first time since I was a little girl, this Christmas Eve, I am excited about tomorrow morning, watching my son open and play with his gifts, drinking coffee (I’ll make hot chocolate for him) and eating a big breakfast in our pajamas. My mother used to play Johnny’s Cash’s Christmas classics; I’ll probably play the Beatles. My boyfriend will spend the night and Christmas day with us; we’ve decided to take my son to the movies for the first time. Maybe that will become a tradition. Who knows? All possibilities are open and in the making: a family of my own.