Tag Archives: Christmas

Establishing Christmas Traditions – Not so hard

Christmas Traditions — to me this sounds lofty, idealistic, thoughtful. There are traditions and memories from my childhood that I still strive to maintain. Having an advent calendar, putting the tree up to be enjoyed the entire month of December, my ornament that is a half walnut shell with a tiny nativity scene inside, Grandma Nadine’s ceramic tree. I also continue to make certain foods for my family (though I am much more circumspect about consuming large quantities myself any more). Homemade salami, white chocolate bark with pretzels and peanuts, homemade ham salad, and sugar cookies are a must. Watching certain programs – White Christmas, Christmas Story, Rudolph, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and at least two cheesy Lifetime movies. Drinking Millstone Peppermint Stick Coffee. These mean the holidays to me.

But, this year has awakened a new revelation in me and one I hope I can pass on to parents of younger children. You are establishing Christmas traditions and memories without even trying. 

My children ages 18 and 12 have proven to me this year. I did not realize that by hosting a couple tree decorating parties for my husband’s work study students through the years, I established the tradition that we MUST have homemade cookies and mulled cider to decorate the house. It is also a MUST that I buy cranberry flavored ginger ale for the Sigman Christmas party that is always at our house. And, the girls’ stockings cannot hang on just any hook or any way. Each of them has  preferred side of the doorway. (We don’t have a chimney so they are hung on either side of the passage from the dining room to the living room. 

All of these things were done in all innocence and without thought to establishing memories and traditions. I was living in the moment and doing what was fun and important to me. But, what I have discovered is I have made an indelible mark on the girls and these are traditions they may continue or modify as the grow and move away from home. 

One other tradition that was started by my mom and dad for me, and Greg and I have continued with the girls is to buy a special ornament for each of them every year. Some years they end up getting way more than just one. When I got married, and moved out of my mom’s house, my ornaments came to me and now, year after year, get placed on the big tree in the living room. As I have gazed at the tree this year, I realized we may only have this many ornaments for a few more years. Sarah is already in college and will probably move out in the next few years. She will get her ornaments to take with her and continue to enjoy them in her own house with her own traditions. 

One tradition I miss is driving around looking at Christmas lights. For some reason, my children do NOT enjoy this the way we did when I was a kid. But, maybe someday I will have grandchildren who will want to go with Grandma to do that. 

Whatever you are doing in love with your children, is making an impression and creating memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy the process, don’t try to hard – you don’t have to – it is all important to a child. 

Don’t forget to listen to music, dance around the kitchen and read a book. 

 

Have a very merry Christmas and I’ll see you in the New Year!ImageImage

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Mom’s Letter to Santa

This is making the email circuit right now, but I thought I would post it here, just in case you haven’t seen it.

Dear Santa,

I’ve been a good mum all year. I’ve fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor’s office more than my doctor, sold sixty-two cases of choc.bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son’s red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I’ll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I’d like a pair of legs that don’t ache (in any colour, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don’t hurt or flap in the breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the lolly aisle in the grocery store.

I’d also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you’re hauling big ticket items this year I’d like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television that doesn’t broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, “Yes, Mummy” to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don’t fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting “Don’t eat in the living room” and “Take your hands off your brother/sister,” because my voice seems to be just out of my children’s hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it’s too late to find any of these products, I’d settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don’t mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare tomato sauce a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don’t catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don’t eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

A MUM!

P.S. One more thing…you can cancel all my requests if you can keep my children happy, healthy and always believing.

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Christmas past

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. The fact that it happens in the winter, my favorite season, has a lot to do with it. But, more importantly, I think it was because of my childhood. My family embraces all aspects of the Christmas season with gusto — gift giving, music, food, decorating, worship services, candles, advent calendars etc. I know lots of people who get frustrated and stressed and depressed this time of year and seem to thrive on grumbling through it all. I have never heard this be the attitude in my family, though. Yes, there have been years when money was tight and when that caused some stress, but Christmas was still Christmas and it was a joyful time to be celebrated.

We are having some people over this evening to help decorate the house. We will share a meal (cheesy meatball soup and crackers) and then have some sugar cookies and snacks to keep us fortified. I have been tidying the house and putting the tree together and preparing so things are ready when our friends arrived.  I just bent over to get the advent calendar, Christmas tablecloth and placemats out of the hutch and had a huge sense of nostalgia. The hutch belonged to my grandparents. I can still smell candles, Grandma’s hand lotion and Grandpa’s pipe tobacco when I open the drawers and doors. Some of you know, my grandmother passed away in early December last year. She LOVED Christmas and especially the decorations and having the family around. As I breathed the scent of her a few minutes ago, it brought back so many wonderful memories of the part this hutch has played in my Christmas’ past and now in my present and future.  Grandma always had Christmas cards  and little figurines and candles on top, the bread and pies on the shelf, and there was always a can of peanut M&Ms that we knew how to get into. I remember her reaching down in those same doors I just opened for another candy dish, plate or candle stick.

Grandma’s tree always went up the day after Thanksgiving and was always full of light and ornaments from years past and those that the grandchildren had made through the years. I remember there were always unwrapped gifts under the tree that Grandma would place there after she received them from the people at work. Her boss would always give her ribbon candy and I thought that the strangest looking (and tasting) stuff. It definitely is not chocolate. Opening presents at Grandma’s took literally hours, as we each did them one at a time and oooohhhhed and aaahhhhhed over each thing. Christmas was definitely about us kids – even once we were adults and many of us were married.

I love remembering the years that our whole family would sing around the piano after the presents were opened. You haven’t really heard the 12 Days of Christmas until you’ve heard it done with each person taking one day and singing it in the appropriate spot. Just deciding who is going to do what can take five minutes.

I miss Grandma a lot, but I think this year is going to be harder than last year. Last year we were still numb from the shock and were just happy to be together as a family. This year there are new babies in the family that Grandma never got a chance to shop for or prepare to watch the joy in their eyes. We’ve had time to grieve and get back to our lives. There is definitely going to be a void in our preparations and celebrations this year. Grandma spent a lot of thought on how to make Christmas special for us. I hope I can continue to build these memories for my children. To be joyful and embrace every aspect of the season, and to put them first so they can build their own memories of Christmas past.

As we go through this season this year, I’m prepared to have some tearful moments. I know, though, they are tears of thanksgiving and blessings and joy given from the memories of my Christmas’ past.

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