Saturday, December 20, 2014

There's a party going on right here...

I used to send out holiday cards every year.  It started out with handwritten cards, sometimes even with a newsletter of sorts.  Then I discovered the loveliness of the preprinted picture card, and started doing those.  My lists got longer each year, but I enjoyed sending them out, and receiving them in return.  The day after Thanksgiving, the kids and I would make a paper "advent" chain, with different holiday ideas for each chain.  Each day one of the kids was allowed to remove one of the links, and we would do that activity.   I made lists for gift shopping.  We put out carrots for St. Nicholas's reindeer, and he left ornaments and baking supplies on December 6.  Because we don't really subscribe to any specific religious tradition, we started planning small celebrations for each December holiday (admittedly, we really picked and chose the most fun traditions - playing dreidel, eating latkes, lighting candles for Chanukah and the Solstice, making homemade Solstice gifts, telling stories.)  Each year, my mother, sister, and I would have a "baking day."  We made several different kinds of cookies, each of us choosing our favorites, and adding new recipes each year.  Sometimes we invited others, often we added wine, and we always had bins and boxes of cookies when we were done.  New pajamas were wrapped and hidden for Christmas Eve.

As my kids got older, I found myself waiting longer and longer to put out decorations, and each year I put out less.  I get tired of the decorations very quickly, and they are put away as soon as I have time.  Almost all gifts are purchased online.  I haven't made any cookie more complicated than a nighty-night cookie in a few years.  The kids still get ornaments on December 6, and I light candles on the Solstice, but no more elaborate holiday traditions.  I haven't sent out a card in a few years (I do miss this one.)  My kids don't want new pajamas.

Did I get burned out trying to implement so many new traditions?  I don't think so.  I think, honestly, it is just a combination of a few things - my kids have gotten older, and the males in my house don't really enjoy the holiday.  I have significantly less time on my hands.  December of 2013 and 2012 were rough, mental health-wise.  And finally, this year I made an interesting realization about myself - I am not a huge Christmas lover.  I like it well enough - I put up a tree, I wore Christmas earrings this week, I went to a Christmas party.  I love my presents - giving and receiving.  But I only enjoy 3 Christmas movies - "Elf", "Christmas Vacation", and "Charlie Brown Christmas."  I really don't love Christmas music - a little Mannheim Steamroller, the music from Charlie Brown Christmas, and "Christmas in Hollis".
Ooh, I forgot how much I liked that one.

Anyway, so I read Andrea Dekker the other day, who was talking about something similar, and I thought I'd share my own experience with whittling our traditions to a more manageable level.  We have a lot on our plate this year, and celebrating the holidays on a smaller scale is helping me to keep sane.
Of course, those lists were helpful in keeping my holiday spending down.  I really tend to overdo the stockings.  I do love the stockings.

Since it has been a bit since I wrote, I'll give a quick rundown on what's been going on - boot camp and work most days.  The Girl is playing volleyball on a new team, and keeping up with her pitching lessons.  The Boy applied to and was accepted by the University of Kentucky, so there is a small weight off my mind.  Had a nice, wine-soaked Thanksgiving, as many of my Facebook friends know.  Read some books, visited with some friends.

Ooh, here is something holiday-ish to share - we were trying to choose a relatively short holiday book to read for our Classics book club.  I remembered when I was in 5th grade, we made these angels - a very involved, messy craft project - in class.  While we were working on this project, our teacher, Mrs. Santos, played a recording of Truman Capote reading his "A Christmas Memory."  I loved this story.  It is an autobiographical story; the author as a child and his "friend", a child-like adult cousin gather the ingredients to made fruitcakes, which they do every year at this time.  The story is such a lovely little piece, written as a stream-of-consciousness.  I remembered it very fondly, and wanted to see if I still liked it as an adult.  I loved the story, but I think I'm going to have to find that recording again.  It made me smile.

As my husband, children, and everyone who knows me would say, it is way past my bedtime.  If we don't chat before, have a very Merry Christmas, a Blessed Solstice, Happy Chanukah, and anything else you celebrate.

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