Christmas is over. I’ve spent weeks shopping, preparing, budgeting, cutting, slicing, roasting, entertaining, arguing, taping, and wrapping. Every bow has been removed, the egg nog has been drunk by the morning after.

I want to rest.

But now, it’s the season of instructions.

“Mom, let’s play this!”

“Mom, I want to do this game.”

“Mom, make this with me!”

Crafts, toys, and games. What to do first? So many choices… I know…he thinks…Let’s do them ALL! At once!

This means I must do them all. I must assemble, read rules, negotiate, try to get things in and out of containers. God bless the person who invented the clamshell package, I think. It’s enough bad karma for ten lifetimes.

Then I think, “First world problems.” How lucky I am to have such problems. I think of those who can only wish for them. The second I get frustrated working through directions in Spanish or Japanese, I recall some person far away made this for me, slaving so I could put it under the tree.

A few days after Christmas–things are all over the floor.

“Put your toys back with respect.” I say. “Open them nicely and take care of them.” That’s a lesson I must teach the boy. On that, I won’t compromise. I’m not a “clean your room” kind of mom. I wasn’t a “clean my room” kind of kid, but I treasured the things I received. I want Declan to do the same–to put things back in the box and play with them with care. It’s the best way he can show gratitude to the people who made them.

I don’t always shop fair trade. I don’t always stop to appreciate people throughout the world as much as I should. Today, I do. I think of those who designed, created, and manufactured the items I use daily, on which my entire economy and livelihood rests. I wish I were better to them. I wish the entire world was. I’m eating their food, typing on their computers, drinking their coffee in a mug they made. In a moment, I’ll pour my drink in a travel mug they gave me so I can be on my way in a car brilliantly designed for my comfort.

I feel guilty. I wish all these people peace, love, and I give thanks for their goodness, not just the things they’ve given me. My gratitude doesn’t make up for unfairness, but it helps me think of ways I can give back to the world so somehow, so the cycle of giving makes it completely around the globe.

That’s first world thinking, too. But even if that idealism doesn’t hold a Scrooge’s coal stove next to reality, I can still do better–I must do better. That’s what the holiday season is all about, but only if it lasts 365 days long.


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