As a child, I remember Christmas being so exciting that I could hardly sleep the night before. We’d have a tree, Christmas stockings and yummy turkey. My Dad would always design a “trail” for me – a treasure hunt with clues – to lead me to my biggest present. Dessert was always my mother’s homemade Christmas pudding with lots of thick cream, almond paste cloaked Christmas cake, and tiny, flaky mince pies (my parents were from England).
As an adult, I managed to spend most of my Christmases at home with my mother and sister (my parents were divorced by then) where it would always be the same as I remembered (minus the trail).
This will be the fourth Christmas since the death of my mother. Each year, my sister and I have struggled with how to make Christmas like we remembered. For a variety of reasons, the first two years were fairly miserable. Last year, I just ran away from it all and ignored Christmas as much as I could.
This year, I feel brave enough to try it again. It will be different. My sister and I have decided that we can’t recreate the same thing without my mother. Those days are gone. I need to do something new (but with a few old elements?).
Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time (at least a year) may remember last year’s Christmas/Holidays Unplugged series, so perhaps you know of my internal struggles. I want to create lovely memories and traditions for my children, but hate the commercialism and lack of any meaning.
The plan this year is as follows:
– Tree: Thin tree that needed to be cut from our property anyway – read more: An Ugly Christmas Tree.
– Child Presents: Christmas stockings plus one gift each for the kids from Santa, and a few from us.
NOTE: Without TV, my kids don’t really have specifics on what they want…which is wonderful and difficult at the same time. They sat on Santa’s lap at our town Christmas tree lighting and both asked for “a surprise.” I wonder how many kids do that?
– Adult Presents: Christmas stockings all around. I do the children, my sister and my husband. My sister does her significant other and me. I love the challenge of finding cool little things that they might like that would fit in the tiny space of a stocking. It seems fun and not commercially excessive.
Otherwise, we are not doing adult gifts this year. We are all in the very fortunate position (especially fortunate in light of this year’s economy) of being able to buy whatever we need, and I hate shopping out of a “need to buy something” mentality.
In lieu of gifts, each adult will do a donation to charity for each other adult (to that other adult’s favorite charity). I have even gotten a few other relatives on board with this (even for the kids) which certainly lightens the gift receiving (and giving) burden, is much more in the spirit of the season, and makes me feel that we are actually doing good for the world rather than doing good for Walmart.
– Food: I think I’ll get a small, fresh turkey from our local market (but I’d better get on that right away, especially since the weather is forecast to be lousy). I’ll try to keep it somewhat simple because I want to enjoy the day and not spend it mostly in the kitchen as I remember my mother doing.
Of course, if I can’t get to the store for food, we’ll be having leftovers for Christmas. But snowed-in with leftover pasta might actually make for a completely fun and memorable Christmas!
This is my overall plan. It may need refining next year…or maybe I’ll just want to run away again. I don’t know. I’ll tell you all how it goes.
Good luck defining (or redefining) your celebration. Happy holidays to all!