Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas thinking....

As I was hurriedly decorating the house and the tree the other day, I wondered what ever made me think I *had* to do this.

When I was little, my mom NEVER decorated for the holidays. We were lucky if we got a tree. There were no traditions, no saying, "We do _____ *every* year!" Because we didn't do anything every year. Some years we would have a tree, some years we didn't. Some years we would go to my g-ma's and some years we stayed home. We NEVER had Christmas lights on the outside of our house and we had no other decorations beside the tree and we NEVER baked anything. Nary a sugar cookie or granule of colored sugar could be found in that house.

My mom "hated" Christmas. God only knows what she had suffered through during her childhood holidays, but I have no doubt that she was totally and thoroughly traumatized. She wished it didn't come every year and didn't hesitate to tell us this through-out the whole entire holiday season. She limped along and made sure we had some gifts to open, but it was purely parental obligation. Christmas for her was what that wedding a couple months back, was to me.

Fast-forward to my early wife/mom years. From that set of experiences I was primed and ready to create a holiday extravaganza like no one had ever seen the likes of! We hung lights on the outside of our first little home, I decorated all over the place, the kids helped make sugar cookies and decorate them, I invited all of our little pre-schooler friends over to make Christmas crafts of which my children surely have no memory anymore. We dressed in color co-ordinated Christmas-y outfits and had family photos taken. I bought enough to enclose one in each Christmas card that also contained my Christmas letter. (Yes, I am mortified when I think back on that!)

Fast-forward to now, to today! I watch my best friend who puts Martha Stewart to shame decorate her home and yard and she gets tremendous joy from this. I have heard that her mom was the same way. Today she sent me a picture of some homemade dog biscuits she was making to give to her grand-dogs for gifts. 

Ok now for the truth....I do not reap huge amounts of joy from Christmas. Or from decorating. I feel like its a lot of work. If I didn't have kids coming home, I wouldn't have done most of what I did....which wasn't all that much. I do LOVE finding just the right gift though. Now, THAT makes me happy!

Every year I think, "I need to find what will be my authentic Christmas experience." And then before I know it, its here again and I am hurrying around throwing together my same old deal. Now my adult kids are feeling the pressure of getting gifts for everyone, when they really can't afford it. I say things like "Spend a day with me. I just want your time. Come and help me burn leaves. Put together a day hike. Lets do a home-made Christmas! Lets all go and feed the homeless!" They look at me like I am crazy....
They would do all of those things with me, but NOT in lieu of a Christmas gift.

So heres to *getting through* this holiday with as much joy and peace and authenticity as I can muster. And heres to figuring out what *my* truly ideal Christmas celebration will be filled with next year.

I would love to hear what you do to make Christmas authentic to your family if you feel like sharing. (NOT so I can authentically copy your authentic ideas though. Promise.)



notmyboy said...

I was just telling my daughter how I have only decorated the bare minimum for the past few years, and it just hit me why. It is because Christmas is for children...and mine are grown. It doesn't matter to them if I decorate beyond the tree, so I don't. It is way too much work to tackle without the post ooohs and aahhhs. I still put lights on the landscaping (not the house). I still drag out my 12 foot tree, only this year I only added the actual ornaments (handmade and store bought) but none of the bazillion plastic bulbs (all store bought). My village has not seen the light of day for years. I have not hung a bow on my open staircase, and won't. All my ceramic snowmen and trees sit in their boxes in my basement. I do know this...I will drag it all out in a heartbeat the second I have grandchildren.

mary christine said...

Hey! great idea, I think I shall post the same this morning.

I am glad you are finding peace with Christmas. It can be so very difficult. In my childhood home, it was a traumatic event - every single year.

SoberMomWrites said...

Why not copy? Oh wait..."leverage" or "borrow" what someone else does? You may find something that speaks to the authentic Christmas in you and if so, I say go for it.

OR...maybe the authentic Christmas is just the one in which you find the most joy. Giving instead of getting. A simple tree and no other decorations. Time with your family.

I used to decorate anything that didn't move in my house because that's what my my did. She also went deep into debt and made us all crazy and stressed because the house had to be perfect. So not a Currier and Ives memory.

Now I just put out the things that make me happy. Sparkly new ornaments from Michael's sale rack ($2.50 each woo-hoo) and the one's the kids made years and years ago.

And Christmas Craft Day (which is what we called it - yep...I got all the kids together too - has been deeded to another mom who has little ones. I'm tired of vacumming up glitter in April. (Okay...not really but it was getting too stressful for me.), my friend, carry Christmas in your heart every day of the year. How much more authentic can you get?


Echo said...

Hello Annette, I am happy to have come across your blog. I will tell you I love Christmas! My Mother always made it special for all 7 of us and she was a single Mom(Father died when I was7). So I carry on the tradition of hanging stockings,making something special for each of my family and friends. I also do the store bought gifts and bake cookies for the neighbors. I love to give more than receive. This year I am celebrating for my furry friends. I just lost my cat of 12 years and now my German Shepard has cancer. So at my house we are buying gifts just for our furry friends this year. I have 3 cats and 2 dogs. I think the true meaning of Christmas for me personally is to remember how much you love your family and friends. Take time to enjoy the day with all, when sometimes you can't see them thru out the year as you would like to.I wish you to have a nice day with your family. Hugs, Echo :)

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

I have let my must do list go even at Christmas time. Last year I friend bought me a Christmas tree for Christmas. With another friend I decorated the house this year nothing. I did leave the ribbons on my chandelier up the whole year. I was joining my neighbor who left there Christmas lights on their back porch up all year. It is fun to have no rules.

Mrs D said...

First of all - MERRY CHRISTMAS! Second - authentic is my new favorite word. I love it. It has such a huge beautiful meaning because it carries such weight yet is completely non-specific. Authenticity is only what it is to the individual. There is no 'expected' or 'common' or 'acceptable' with authentic. It's just what is the truth for the individual, and for me in getting sober so much of how I move in the world has become far more authentic. It sounds to me like you have found your authenticity at this time.. enough Christmassy stuff to make it not feel like just another day but no so much as to waste time and energy on something that isn't important to you. Sounds fabulous to me dear Annette. xxx

Syd said...

I find authenticity in Christmas by thinking about peace and quiet. I do like the lights and the tree. We decorated when I was a child, and I still have those old ornaments and decorations. The lights are cheerful on short days. But it's the idea of not having to do much of anything this year that is so appealing--no party here, no urgency, little expectation and just doing what we can to give to others and keep it real.

Anna said...

Merry Christmas

I always read your blog. I am very happy that your family is all around you and all heathy this year. That is a true miracle and you deserve it.

Anna said...

Merry Christmas

I always read your blog. I am very happy that your family is all around you and all heathy this year. That is a true miracle and you deserve it.