Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas...Past, Present, and Future

As a kid, I loved Christmas: the Christmas music (especially sung at church), the lights on the houses, the tree with all our school-made ornaments, and the traditions of our family. After moving to Cedar, we sometimes we went to Vernal to celebrate the holiday with extended family, but most of the time, we stayed home and celebrated it with just our family. Christmas Eve, after dinner of ham, potato casserole, rolls, veggies, and other goodnesses, we'd drive around looking at the lights on houses, singing Christmas carols. I'm sure us kids would fight at times, but I don't remember. *smile* When we got home, we read the Christmas story from the Bible and got to open one present before going to bed. When I was younger, I'd always hope for some really cool toy to open, but it was always pj's. After a few years, I caught on to the pattern and realized that present would always be pj's and finally understood the coolness of getting to wear brand-new pajamas to bed Christmas Eve. Of course, we would leave a plate full of homemade sugar cookies and a glass of milk for Santa. Then we'd put our individual stocking in our "place". This place signified where Santa was to put our gifts when he came.

Christmas morning, we weren't allowed to get out of bed until a certain time - preset the night before. I remember being awake in bed, willing the alarm clock to go faster so I could get out of bed. (I was an extremely obedient child, as you know.) Corey would come in and get me and sometimes we'd go look at our presents before waking up Jason and Kevin. We'd all play with our new toys an hour or so before waking up our parents (also a preset time from the night before). After showing them our loot, we'd open up the presents under the tree. We took turns (usually youngest, Kevin, to oldest, Dad), opening up one gift at a time, so we all got to be the center of attention for a moment and so that present would get its proper importance. It also stretched out the fun, something I really enjoyed. Oh, and we always had stuff in our stockings, too. Stocking stuffers wouldn't be anything extravagant, especially when compared to what I've heard about from other people, usually just an apple, orange, banana, some candy, nuts, and maybe a small toy. After presents were opened, we'd have Mom's breakfast casserole, then spend the morning playing with our toys and often playing the game(s) Santa had left for the family. For lunch, we'd have Mom's delicious clam chowder. I can eat clam chowder from restaurants, but none of them are as tasty as Mom's. I really need to learn how to make it someday. The rest of the day was really relaxed. Lots of spending time together. It was wonderful.

When my parents divorced, things changed. We developed new traditions, started having two Christmases - one at Mom's and one at Dad's, and I lost a little of my Christmas spirit. I hate to say it, but it's true. It took a few years, but eventually, I started to dislike Christmas. I still enjoyed the music/singing, the lights on houses, and all that stuff, but I started to dread Christmas Day. I hated leaving my mom all alone on Christmas Day when we went to Dad's. Then I felt bad leaving Dad's house because we usually didn't stay there very long. And, I felt bad bringing the gifts from him and Paula home to my mom's. I probably made it worse than I should have, but what can I say, I'm a sensitive gal. *smile* Then my brothers got married and started having kids. Kids make Christmas. That's all there is to it. Having in-laws to plan around, and then a nephew we only got to see on Christmas Eve complicated Christmas. It started to become a 2-day affair. Since Kevin only had Scott on Christmas Eve, we'd spend part of that day with Mom and part with Dad. Repeat that on Christmas Day. I always ended up being the one who coordinated when we'd go where, and frankly, I hated it. I always had fun once the festivities were upon us, of course. I just wish I had relaxed enough to enjoy it beforehand. Ah well. Live and learn, right?

Two years ago, I scheduled my lap band surgery for December 23rd for two reasons; one because it was the best time to take off work and the other to avoid some of the stress that I caused myself at this time of year. It helped. Then last year, I decided to go to Paris on Christmas Day. I was still around long enough to be able to enjoy the festivities, but I was determined to not let the normal frustrations interfere with my excitement. This was a break-through for me. I finally realized that I didn't need to make sure everyone was happy. This wasn't my responsibility. I didn't have kids, I was single. Why did I need to make the plans? So I didn't. And I had a really enjoyable Christmas. I realized how stupid I had been for so many years and was determined that I wouldn't be ever least about Christmas.

This year is the first year in a long time that I won't be spending Christmas with my family. Steve and I are going to Denver for Christmas. We fly out tomorrow afternoon and are coming back Tuesday afternoon. Since we're leaving on Christmas Eve, we're opening our presents tomorrow morning and doing "traditional" Christmas Eve night stuff tonight. After dinner, we're going to watch a Christmas movie (probably the cartoon version of the Grinch since he's opposed to Charlie Brown), then drive around looking at the lights on people's houses. I'm betting I won't get him to sing carols with me. *smile* When we get home, we'll have hot chocolate and open our stocking stuffers. In the morning, we'll open our presents and have breakfast. I'm thinking of making a quiche or maybe Mom's breakfast casserole! (I just thought of that while I typed.)

I don't know what the future holds, but I know I want to be with Steve for every Christmas yet to come. I want to have traditions that are ours, traditions that we establish together and can pass on to our children, if we have them. I know that some years we'll spend with my family and hopefully we'll spend some with his family. No matter where we are, I'm going to be with Steve and that makes me happy. The future certainly looks bright.

Wherever you are going to be this Christmas, whoever you're going to be with, whatever your traditions are, I hope you have a very wonderful day!



Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas to you, too! (I'm sorry I won't get to see you in Cedar this year!)

tearese said...

It's true that the more people and varying homes and traditions you add in, the more stressful Christmas becomes! I always prefer just being home. I hope your Christmas was wonderful this year!