Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas Present (rather than Christmas Past)

Art and I have eight children between us. Until we got together, my two sons and I celebrated on Christmas Day. Once we had a blended family, for many years we all gathered on Christmas Eve for a meal and gift exchange. Then they all grew up, half of them moved away, and Christmas Eve wasn't a good time for the other half, and then there were grandchildren. So we changed the tradition several times.

This year we're having a family meal on Sunday, December 12. We'll have only three of our offspring but will also have a wife, a significant other and two to four grandchildren. We buy gifts for all ten of our grandchildren, stepgrandchildren and grandchildren's halfsiblings. For the family gathering, each adult brings a generic gift with a value of $20 or less, and we do the "draw numbers, choose a gift or steal" routine. That works well for our family's current configuration.

Once the 12th has past, Art and I are finished with the family Christmas. In previous years this has been hard for me. Last year I decorated a live tree with all the old ornaments - the ones I collected when my two boys were growing up. When I finished, I felt so sad I started to cry. I was thinking about and wishing for Christmas Past. So I took down all the ornaments and put the live tree in the yard.

This year we drove into the country to buy a dozen poinsettias, as usual. Today we put up 19 stockings on the banister, set out the nativity set and put up all the decorations except a tree. It looks good, and I don't feel sad.

On December 17th Art and I will attempt another road trip - this one to Island Park, Idaho, where we will be in a two-bedroom timeshare 22 miles from West Yellowstone. One of the days we're there we'll take a snowcoach trip inside Yellowstone. We're taking the snowshoes we bought two years ago that we've never used, plus our Kindles, a dozen magazines, a jigsaw puzzle, my laptop, and half of the poinsettias. I expect it to be cold, with snow, and I think we'll have a quiet, comfortable week before Christmas. On Christmas Day we'll start our two-day drive home.

This plan sounds good to me. It lets me live in Christmas Present instead of pining for Christmas Past. Which I now remember as being wonderful sometimes and just wretched at others (like for two or three years after my divorce). Christmas Present is what we make of it, and I like the one we're making this year.


Decca said...

Have a wonderful Christmas present. I've never had a white Christmas and it sounds like you're in for a beautiful one. Enjoy. (Oh, and I highly recommend hot cocoa with a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream topped with some whipped cream. Perfect for a cold day.)

Sally Wessely said...

Linda, I can so relate. My husband and I have eight children between us too. It makes for a very complex Christmas. I have learned to let go of my expectations (sort of) for the holidays. They look nothing like I thought Christmas would look when my children were young and thought of the days when they and all of my grandchildren would gather around the tree. Each year I deal with the reality of life as it now is. Your post helps me to remember that I must also live in Christmas Present.

#1Nana said...

Good plan. I so enjoy looking at the old ornaments from Christmas past, but last year I boxed up all of the ones I had collected for my daughter and sent them to her. She now hangs them on her tree with the ones she collects for my granddaughters. We're traveling this Christmas also and won't have a tree. I like the idea of creating new Christmas traditions.

Linda said...

I'm past the days of worrying about tradition. Personally at this stage in my life I love not being bound by it.

We only have one grand (8) so I put up a tree but have it down to a science, small tree, red bows, and red birds. The ornaments and bows fit nicely into one plastic container.

I hope you have a wonderful time traveling. I've yet to meet a story book family so enjoy yourself and quit striving for the perfect family holiday. There isn't one.

Deb Shucka said...

Our family has changed traditions over the years to fit the various shifting configurations and needs of everyone involved. I like that you're in a place of sort of having it all and enjoying all the bits of it. Yellowstone in winter sounds lovely. I hope your holiday fills your heart and soul with love and joy.

Anything Fits A Naked Man said...

I think that's a TERRIFIC idea! I know what you mean about Christmas Past. This will be our first Christmas without my father, who died last August. I'm sending an email to all my siblings, suggesting we COMPLETELY change our Christmas Eve traditions this year. It's time to start a new chapter! Good luck to both of us! And, Merry Christmas!!

karen said...

Hi Linda,
I'm going through some definite changes with my own family this year...and change is tough. The newly married ones, the new all the new personalities...but we'll manage. I liked a lot of your ideas.
Thanks for stopping in at Maggie's...appreciate it.
See ya soon,

Linda Hoye said...

Hzve a wonderfull and blessed Christmas Present. I relate to what you said about those wretched Christmas's post-divorce. I once thought I would never enjoy another Christmas but fifteen (or so) years later I am happily remarried, my family has grown, and I am seeing this Christmas through the eyes of my grandchildren. What a blessing!

I enjoy your posts very much.