500 Words At A Time: Holiday IV: X-Mas

Every holiday has been affected by our being in college and specifically living on campus in Big Rapids, none more than Christmas. Due to a long and contentious history, Christmas has not been my favorite holiday, not even on my top 5 list. Then I became a father and slowly began to enjoy the holiday again. Then we moved here…

There is nothing about Ferris that diminishes Christmas holiday, but there is. In other words, the school has not dimished the holiday, but the things associated with the holiday have. Not sure what I am talking about? Read on…

The students: The student population makes living in a small town with limited options a pain in the ass in the first place. That the students have to leave over the holiday break is a great thing, however, before they go they try to cram in one or two last parties, which can make for some interesting times around town and on the roads. On a minor note, because students are not in town they do not decorate or do much in the holiday way.

The geography: Big Rapids cannot help being where it is today, the decision to found a town one-hour, at minimum, from everywhere with good shopping was made long ago. Being an hour-away from any shop that is different from those in town does have a diminishing effect on the holiday spirit, “Do you want to go shopping for the kids? Great. Where? I’ll block off four hours.” (1 hour there + 1 to 2 hours to get around new location and shop + 1 hour back)

The small town: I am enjoying the small town atmosphere. I am not enjoying the small town shopping options. We can shop at Meijers, Walmart, and…well that is it for big stores in town. There is a Gamestop, a Sears (more an outlet than a full sized store), and a couple of specialty shops. To shop requires traveling (see above) or ordering online. Travel is a pain due to having to block off the time, we are trying to shop without the kids. Online ordering, my usual go-to, turns into a clusterfuck around here because the school or housing, not sure which, insists that packages shipped via the Post Office go to the office for pick up (I say insist because in five years they have not installed large package boxes at the mail pick boxes). If the office is working as it should, picking up a package is relatively quick and easy. This is the holiday season, thus EVERYONE has packages arriving which leads to the clusterfuck. Add on reduced hours over the break and online ordering can be problematic.

The travel: As I wrote above and in other posts we are in the middle of nowhere. Travel to shop is one thing. Visiting the relatives becomes a major operation that has yet to go well. The nearest relative is three to four hours away and the kids…if you have kids and have taken a long car trip you know where I am going; from which one is going to get car sick to the constant bickering and whining.

The money: Our budget always goes to shit this time of year. This is just the nature of the beast that is going to college in the manner we have chosen. We want to do more, like we would do before we moved here, but with limited funds comes making difficult decisions, which means holiday shopping.

The net result is that each Christmas since moving here has been smaller and smaller. The old me, says, this is the way it has always been. The parent in me, who was just starting to enjoy the holiday, wants to go back to the way it was five years ago. The adult in me, says a few more months and hopefully next Christmas will be better than any of the five here.

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