Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Holidays

The Holidays are a weird time for me.  I realize that after I write this people will probably think I am a Scrooge McDuck...but I ams what I am.   This time of year makes me think alot about my father who died a week before Thanksgiving when I was a child.  I think about all the years we missed out on together.  I think about how he has never met his grandchildren or my hubby, or seen me grow into a woman.  How he has never tasted one of my home cooked meals.  What I would give him for a Christmas gift if he were here.  Just so many things.  To be totally honest I do not remember one Christmas with Dad.  I do remember birthdays, but for some strange reason I cannot remember a Xmas with him.

I am not a religious person so the religious significance of Christmas means nothing to me.  Growing up we were not religious either.  Christmas meant "GIMME"!...which I am ashamed to admit.  Like most children, I would jot down all the things I wanted for Christmas and hand the list to my mom, totally expecting everything I wrote.  Just ridiculous.  My mother always cooked a large meal which I always loved and miss very much now that we live so far apart.  Our family is not very tight knit, and would pretty much only come together for Thanksgiving or Christmas, weddings and funerals.  This was  normal to me, since I knew nothing else.  But it's pretty sad when I realized that most families are not this way.  I do wish that my family was closer.  My mom's whole family lived pretty close but we never really got together to do much of anything.  I was younger than all of my cousins so I didn't have too much of a relationship with them.  My dad's family all lived down south.  I visited for a few weeks in summer some years, but have no idea what kind of tradition they had for Christmas.  Just typing that really made me think.  There must've been some great traditions!!  My father was the oldest of FOURTEEN children.  And my grandmother loved to have all of her kids and all the grandbabies over her house any day of the week.  She would cook up a storm just on a random Tuesday.  So I know the holidays must've been really special.  I'll have to inquire with one of my aunts that I am in contact with and find out what the holidays were like when Grandma was alive.  It would be awesome to incorporate some of my Grandmother's old school traditions into our family's.

Back to the gifts.  We were allowed to open one gift on Xmas eve.  I would scan the bottom of our tree every day to see which one I would choose to open on Eve night.  Before we went to bed, we would put cookies on a plate for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.  Then on Xmas morning we would open all of our gifts.  We sometimes would get in the car and drive around to more affluent neighborhoods to see their beautiful decorations and lights on their huge homes.  Which as a child was nice, but now that I am the broke parent, I am all set with seeing how "rich" everyone else is, while I am living pay check to pay check.  But that's just me.  But I suppose it's not really for me, it's for the kids.  By the way, when I say "we", I mean me, haha  it was just me and mom.  She always hung stockings but I don't recall there ever being anything in them.  Just decoration.  (She's going to kill me when she reads this, Hi Mama, I love you!!)  This was all normal to me until I was about 10 or 11 and was over a friends house on Xmas eve.  My friends family was large and they had a tradition that they could open one gift on xmas eve as well, but the parents chose the gift and the gift was always new pajamas.  The kids all wore their new pj's on xmas eve, and the annual Polaroid was taken.  The kids all made cookies with their mom and decorated them with icing and sprinkles to leave out for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.  When the kids woke up in the morning their stockings, which were all hung down the staircase, were all stuffed with candy, new underwear and socks and small toys.  They all sat in front of the tree and opened all of their gifts and played with their new toys for hours with each other while their mom cooked some side dishes and desserts to bring to their grandparent's house for the big dinner where the rest of their family would all gather.  They would spend the entire afternoon and night together.  Laughing, talking, playing games, eating, sharing stories.  Just enjoying the company of their family members and the delicious food that everyone contributed.  They always had mistletoe hung in the doorway to the living room.  I remember the phone was on the wall right there and if anyone was caught under the mistletoe they got a peck.  

After that holiday I spent with them I told myself that when I had my own children that we would have some sort of tradition for the kids to look forward to every year.  Well, sadly I have failed.  We have less tradition then my mom and I had!!  I have vowed this year to make a change.  I had my daughter when I was young and I was so hell bent on never depending on anyone for anything and not being that teen mom.  I worked my arse off and didn't have a lot of time left over to do alot of things I now wish I had.  I mean, we had fun, but I just wish that I spent more time building tradition and lasting memories with my daughter.  I was more focused on earning more money so I could buy her more.  She no doubt knows that I love her with all my heart.  But if I had to do all over again, she would have received less material items and received  more of my quality time and built traditions that she looked forward to every year.  I guarantee you she can not remember one xmas gift she has ever received; which is sad because that is what I chose to give her instead of putting more time and effort into creating memories through time we have spent and building family tradition.  My daughter is now 17 years old.  I know that in just a few years she will be moving out on her own but we are starting to do more as a family NOW!  It's never too late.  I want her to WANT to come home for the holidays after she is living on her own.  

We now have an almost 3 year old son.  He has brought a lot of joy and laughter into our home.  I am 17 years older than I was when I had my daughter.  I have matured tremendously (not just in age) and I was more prepared to be a mom than I was at 17.  We have a more comfortable home and more luxuries than we did back then.  And most importantly, the most amazing man is his Daddy!  I still work full time, but I no longer live to work.  I know now that I have nothing to prove to anyone.  I know that I am a great mother and if anyone disagrees...screw ya.  How do ya like those apples??!!  Haha!  I love watching my son and how amazed he is by everything.  I love to hear him say, "WOWWWWW!!"  He loves lights, the taste of new foods, the smallest cheapest thing is a source of hours of entertainment. He makes me want to love the holidays.  See, I really don't hate Christmas.  It took my toddler's total amazement to all things shiny, tasty and free to make me take a much needed breath and realize I don't hate the holidays.  I hate all of the insane hustle bustle, I hate the "GIMMIES", I hate the stress and the holiday traffic.  This year, I resolve to be less stressed.

I want to teach my kids to be appreciative of their family and friends and for everything that they have.  I want to teach them charity.  It may be too late for my daughter in these areas.  She truly is a very selfish and unappreciative person.  Which infuriates me because we are not this way and we have not raised her to be.  But maybe when she sees that her brother as small and young as he is, can give away toys that he no longer plays with to children with less than he, she will see how easy and rewarding it can be to be charitable.  

I want my children to WANT to spend the holidays with their family, not do it because it is expected and if they don't mom will be sad.
    Last year I made homemade Advent calendars for both of my kids and the hubby.  My daughter's and the hubstah's were handmade envelopes I made from Christmas book pages (from Dollar Tree).  I stuffed each envelope with a little card that was either a reason why I love them, or an activity for the day, or a card to cash in later for Breakfast in bed or Girls Only Breakfast or something along those lines.  I hung a line I made with ribbon and used clothespins to hang the cards from it.  For the little guy, I painted toilet paper rolls and hot glued some white feathery material to the rims and hung them all from a line of ribbon with clothespins as well.  His I stuffed with Hot Wheels, little Toy Story toys I found at Dollar Tree, mini dinosaur figures, the occasional lollipop and hershey kiss.  I was VERY proud of my Martha Stewartness and my attempt at making a new holiday tradition.  Well.... No one gave a crap except the 2 year old.  Days would go by before the girl or Hubby would even open the next envelope.  It obviously wasn't that exciting if I have to remind you about it.  My son was reminding me, haha!  He loved it.  So needless to say, I will only be doing the boys Advent calendar this year.  

    I have been searching online and have come across lots and lots of great ideas for holiday tradition that people have shared.  Some of the ones I am going to start with my family are:
    • sending the kids to bed.  Preparing hot chocolate and popcorn and then waking them up and pack everyone in the car with the goodies and drive around to look at the lights.
    • PJ's for Xmas eve gift opening.
    • hanging mistletoe in the doorways.
    • making cookies together for Santa.
    • We will continue our stocking stuffing as we do every year.
    • Christmas brunch.  All family members will make something.
    • Playing boardgames after opening gifts.
    Please share any traditions you have. I would love to hear them and maybe add them to my Holiday Family Tradition!!

    Thanks for reading :)

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