Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy (?) Holidays

The holiday season is here! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's. I loved this time of year as a child. 

My mom made everything about it so special. From Halloween to New Year's, she created little celebrations that filled me with joy and anticipation. I still enjoy the holidays, but I have to confess that the holidays I knew as a child aren't the same now that I'm an adult. A part of it is because Mom's gone--she entered eternity 7 years ago. That loss has left a huge hole in my heart, one that seems even more bottomless this time of year. Then there's the stress. As a child, you can sail into the holidays with excitement and wonder. As an adult, you can do the same, but too few of us do so. For me, the challenge has been that I've wanted to recreate those childhood days, to bring out all those wonderful traditions, the memories of which still bring me joy, and put them into practice. But here's the thing: I'm not my mom. Not by a long-shot. I'm more driven and--big surprise--more stressed. She had a sweet, giving spirit that permeated all she did. I aspire to be like her in that, but more often than not I fail. Which only ushers in more frustration, more stress, more disappointment. 

I don't want to do that any more. I want to rediscover the joy of the holidays, but that's going to mean finding what works now rather than what worked then. The Bible tells us to come together and reason things out, so, of course, I thought of you. 

  • What do you do to ensure as peaceful a holiday as possible? 
  • What traditions have you kept from childhood?
  • What new traditions have you established?
  • What's your favorite holiday activity?
  • And last but certainly not least, what's your favorite holiday memory? 
Come, friends, let's share and reason together. I can't wait to hear what you have to say.



Kimberley Woodhouse said...

~To ensure peaceful holidays - having the right mindset. Our holidays are not about gifts or "stuff" - Thanksgiving is about being thankful in anything and everything. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Savior. Valentine's is about loving one another. July 4th is about cherishing our freedom, and thanking God for that freedom. We decorate for each holiday and season and that's what my kids look forward to - not the food or presents or anything else. It's about us celebrating and remembering together as a family.

~traditions since childhood - we didn't have too many "traditions" but I've enjoyed making new ones with my kids each year.
~new ones - we make Jesus a cake every year, and we also "wrap" a gift under the tree that tells the Lord what we want to give Him that year. It's precious to see what my kids write down.

~favorite activity - decorating together and singing Christmas carols around the piano.

~favorite memory - my Grandmother waking us up with sleigh bells on Christmas morning.

Anonymous said...

shop all year round--have a wrap party with girlfriend- Do 3 b'zaars to whomp me into holydays mood--annual musical at church- potluck party with Yadas is yearly treat-Xmas eve is church 1st, then home to Swedish--meatballs/mashed potatoes 'n gravy/ breen beans w/ garlic & parmesean/lefsa/lingonberries/herring/red & green jello/swedish rye bread & a birthday cake for Jesus. Read Xmas story-- open gifts with lots of laughter and occasionally singing w/Meagan at piano. Xmas morn up to Swedish pancakes 'n all the fixin;s--then stockings where gifts are all wrapped--usually silly 'n fun small things--then later whole fam off to a fun Xmas movie. Ta da! Hasn't varied forever--and hope it never does! The people may change, but the love and celebrating Jesus never does. Patti Iverson

Philangelus said...

My least favorite and most favorite are the same thing: shopping for gifts. I loathe having to go out and buy things for people who don't need anything at all (or, who if they did need something, would have purchased it long since.) But at the same time, I love it when I can give someone something absolutely perfect and which they couldn't or wouldn't have gotten for themselves. There are two or three gifts a year that fall into that category, and it's lovely.

I love Christmas morning Mass. That's something my family didn't do (we went the night before) and we've also changed the "four states in four days" kind of holiday for the "we stay home and make lots of phone calls" holiday.

Tradition-wise, we've preserved the cooking. I love doing that. There's a Major Fish Dinner on Christmas Eve and another big meal on Christmas Day.

My children have preserved the tradition -- without any help -- of playing with the figures in the nativity scene. I guess nativity scenes come with a built-in kid-magnet.

Valerie Comer said...

My kids are adults now, so a few years ago I said basically that I was on strike for the stressful stuff. I want them home (if remotely possible) and that's the main thing, to remember Jesus' birth together.

When I said I wasn't doing any baking I didn't feel like doing, my daughter and daughter-in-law decided what they 'needed' to have and then made it.

I don't know what we've kept from my childhood other than focus on family and the Lord. Life in every area seems to be a blend of how my family did things, how my husband's family did, and what has worked best for us together.

My family's favorite get together used to be on Christmas Eve and has moved to whatever night is most convenient near Christmas. My side of the family gets together for a veritable feast of hors d'oeuvres, singing one Christmas carol for each person in attendance (their favorite), reading the Christmas story together and having family prayer. And then gifts--we draw names.

My favorite Christmas memory is usually the most recent one. Last year we drove to Vancouver Island to spend Christmas at our son's place--six people jammed into a basement suite during a blizzard. Good times :)

Christmas '10 will definitely rank high as we're expecting our first grandbaby in March! :D

Julie Carobini said...

Last year was super stressful as I worked on various deadlines. I'm not going to let that happen that year. Not that I don't have work; I do. But this year I've already put events on my calendar that I really want to see happen, such as decorate the house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. I've already told one of my daughters that we WILL be doing so (and she'll keep me accountable :).

I've also rediscovered the magic of friendship after letting some important relationships lag over time. This week I've already traded emails with some special friends and set up a time to meet in December. None of us wanted to wait too long for fear that we would miss out on seeing each other again at Christmas this year.

So I guess you could say that I'm making a better effort this year to plan ahead for the important things ~ and not worry over the things that matter less (for example, we've cut our gift list down considerably. Such a relief.)

Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read that post. Thanks for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to them. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

Robin Caroll said...

Holidays are stressful for adults, period. But during the holiday season, especially on weekends, I try to destress in the mornings by cuddling with the kids and dogs (and now kitten) first thing in the morning. We talk about what the coming season means, discuss salvation (each day, the 9 and 7 year old come up with new questions or insight-awes me), and I ask what ONE thing is most important to them that day, then try to plan to do it.

Traditions are a funny thing. Years ago, when both my grandparents were alive, we'd gather at their house and have the BIG Christmas dinner. As they grew older and the next generations got older, they taught each one of us the secret recipe for ONE item on the big menu. Thought it was odd for a bit, but now I get it. Now that they're home in Paradise, for the family to experience the whole BIG dinner, we all have to be together. And it's worked out pretty awesome. My grandparents were truly wise before their time! :D

Our new family tradition that we started the year our first daughter was born was to light the Jesus candle first thing on Christmas morning, then read the story of Jesus' birth before any presents are exchanged or anything. It centers us all into the meaning of the holiday, and fills our hearts with joy and elation.