Insights from this crazy Christmas trip

We’re still in the land of the uber-materialistic for a few more days. It’s truly an alien culture, and I see so much of what is the worst about America since I’ve been here, at least in terms of wastefulness, excess, and inconsideration. I’ve seen some truly joyous things as well. I figured I’d better commit these items to writing so they don’t fade into the mists of time.

  1. With all the grandchildren here, did “Gran” spend one minute actually playing with them? No. Did she ask them what was important to them? No. Did she spend the entire time shopping/cleaning/ordering the kids around? Yes.
  2. Why is it that my husband and I are the only ones who spent time with children snuggled in laps or beside us on the couch or bed?
  3. My mother-in-law has spent every day shopping, but truly needs nothing. When my husband and the kids and I sat down to play a game together, she looked at us as though we had sprouted additional limbs or something. For us, playing games and simply being together is part of our “normal.”
  4. None of the four of us fit in with any of the family with whom we’ve visited over the past few days. We have no interest in constant spending, visiting endless museums, or otherwise draining yet more money out of our accounts. Since we’ve moved to Vermont, we’ve gone several days without spending a dime, and have therefore removed it from our habits.
  5. I can hardly understand why these people don’t recycle. It’s so ingrained in us now, and that is a result of the way that Vermont handles waste: you pay to dump your trash, so you recycle and compost as much as possible.
  6. I have grown. I discovered just how much my mother-in-law despises me, and I frankly don’t care. What matters to me has nothing to do with one petty person whose values are so misaligned that I can hardly find any common ground…at least none that interests me. What matters transcends shopping, appearances, and flashy displays of monetary wealth– it’s people, namely the people who need me and my gifts.

This experience has definitely brought the four of us together more tightly. Considering the imminently approaching teenage years, I think it’s a blessing to have my girls as tightly bonded with us as they are. Here’s one of my favorite images of the visit, one that reflects the type of love that we value:

Christmas

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