It was a good Christmas. One of the best we have had in a while. No presents were exchanged. There was only the gift of time together. A reminder of what Christmas is really all about.
It just all worked out. There was no real plan. My kids were home and off work at the same time. We talked and cooked and ate as we felt like it. My son requested Chicken and Dumplings for Christmas Eve dinner. My daughter requested potato latkes for Christmas breakfast. Whatever they wanted to eat, I fixed it.
It snowed. What’s better than snow on Christmas? We woke up to snow on Christmas morning and it came down softly all day long. Not a lot but enough to make it special. And it kept snowing well into the next day blanketing our yard and the roads in white and making it easy to stay inside together.
We played games – Connect Four, Yahtzee, Scene It - until midnight on Christmas Eve. My daughter’s best friend joined us. We played Scene It again on Christmas Day. Then, after talking to friends, we headed to their house, through the snow, to play Just Dance 2 on the Wii. We danced for hours, all the kids, all the adults, just hanging out together and acting a fool.
As she drove back home on the slick, snow covered roads, my daughter said that this was one of her favorite Christmas memories. I switched over to drive my son’s car for him and he said the same thing. We talked about the fact that we are blessed and that none of us needed anything so we didn’t miss the presents. We talked about the laid back feeling of just doing what we felt like doing with no pressure to make it the “perfect” Christmas, whatever that is.
I was reminded of how special my kids are and that time with each other is what creates the best Christmas memories. And this was one of the best.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Every year, I seem to struggle more. Christmas was my favorite holiday as a child and as an adult. When I had children, I wanted to make it amazingly special for them. It had to be beautiful and special, not with toys or things, but with memories and activities and stories and family.
In 2001, my husband died and it became more difficult to muster the energy to decorate. Things were not the same. Someone was missing and we all knew it. It was weird. The effort to “make things the same” was wasted because we knew it would never be the same. Then I tried to make things totally different. That didn’t work either and ended in tears. We couldn’t “fix it”.
We did try to get rid of the material items that meant nothing and tried to make memories. We replaced the material things with trips each year – a cruise, Disney World, New York, a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. That was a good decision. We have great memories of those times.
The kids got older and got jobs and significant others in their lives. It was hard to coordinate time off and for them to miss work for a trip during the holiday. It became a dance of schedules and often left us a two hour window to open presents and eat before one had to go to work and the other had to attend the significant other’s family dinner and present opening.
But we still had family with us. Either we headed to Alabama to visit my husband’s family or to Middle Tennessee to visit my family. My siblings are spread across the country so it didn’t happen every year but there were a few occasions over the years that we were all at my parent’s house at the same time. Then my mom passed away. Again, it was different. Someone was missing and there was no getting around it
We tried to make it the same. Then we tried to make it different, holding Christmas at my house for Dad and my sister’s family from Louisiana. Then everyone else’s kids got older again and it became more difficult to get everyone in one place at the same time both in Alabama and for my family. Last year Dad couldn’t make it to my house but my sister’s family did. This year, I think it’s going to be almost impossible to get any of us together. My daughter is living in Atlanta working two jobs and my son works almost every holiday. At least they will be home for most of Christmas Day.
Hence my lack of Christmas Spirit. I am really not whining or feeling sorry for myself. I have a very close extended family and I realize every family goes through this. It’s my turn. I love tradition and family and stories and memories and food and games and will miss the loud discussions, the large personalities, the quiet moments, the sharing of love and family. But we will make all that happen again in a new way, maybe at Christmas, maybe at New Year’s, or maybe even in the summer months.
My son has his tree up downstairs and it’s different and beautiful – totally him. My daughter has a cute tree in her apartment in Atlanta that expresses her personality and colorful sense of design. Do I have to put up a tree? I think I do. I could sit here all day and wait for the holiday spirit to come and anoint me with the magic of Christmas. I might be sitting a long time. I think it will happen once I start the decorating, starting with the tree.
And yes, I will complain that I have to drag out all that stuff, find a place to store the “stuff” that is a part of the décor all year, and then clean up everything. And I will whine that all that has to be done again in reverse in a few weeks. But I will do it.
Christmas changes and I need to change my expectations. I’m working on it.