I was browsing through all my old December posts from the last four years and I was surprised (at first) to discover that I had never really posted anything much about Christmas in our home. Then I began to think more and I realized just how connected Christmas is with young children, at least in our family, and we haven’t had any of those for quite some time.
By the time I started blogging here daughter Cara was on her way to marriage, son Jeff was on his own with not-yet wife Mere, and Alison had already voiced her disapproval of every single thing Christmas prior to my official title as blogger.
When all the kids lived at home they never refused gifts, although I think I held onto Santa longer than any of them found amusing. I got the message after quite a few eye rolls were shot my way and fed up sighs signaled that they had enough of my strategic ‘big Santa present’ appearing under the Christmas tree on the morning of. When they were really young we had our traditions, but as children will do, they began to grow up, partake in their own lives with their friends and really Christmas morning was the only thing left of most of the fun we created each year.
Since Alison has really been the only kid around since this blog began we hold onto very little of the old ways. She and I may take in some sort of holiday concert or play during December if the mood strikes us. I suppose that activity replaces all the former band concerts I was compelled to attend while the other daughter and son were in school. I have heard so many bands play the song Sleigh Ride, that even though I am not musically inclined I might be able to pick up an instrument and muddle my way through. Secretly though, that song is one of my favorites. If it happens to be yours as well you might want to skip to the end of the post for a moment and start the music while you finish reading. I still put out some decor, and the size of my artificial tree has shrunk over the years to 4 1/2 feet this year. I was never a maniac with the decor, but it was fun when the kids were young to jazz up the stair railings, display their homemade ornaments from school and scouts and our own craft projects, as well as do things like the annual cookie bake and treat day. Of course, we had to have two trees as well. One held the adult decorations, usually coordinated with the other decor, and a second tree placed near the fireplace, held colored lights, kids ornaments from baby days and the infamous Santa present.
The stairs haven’t seen a green garland in years, the homemade ornaments all are sent with the kids as they leave home for the final time, and none of us need a bazillion cookies and chocolate dipped pretzels and fudge so that’s out as well. I don’t even remember when the second tree made its last appearance, but when I was the only one doing all the decorating, it seemed time for it to go.
We’ve never participated in the religious aspects of the holiday, what with my views on religion in general. I never expressed my atheism to the kids though. They were always free to explore any religious belief systems that they wanted and make their own conclusions, but, because religion plays such an integral part to this season for so many, we never had that fellowship of a religious community or related activities. That’s not to say that those concerts we attended were secular only. I have been to many local churches to listen to some beautiful choral and orchestral music. I don’t have to buy into the message to enjoy and appreciate talented musicians.
Alison has followed in my footsteps with her religious views, but even more than that she is pretty opinionated about the commercialism associated with the entire holiday season. In fact, one year she embraced Seinfeld and held her own Festivus celebration, complete with shiny metallic pole.
So now days we get together at some point as a family for food and a simple gift exchange. Sometimes it’s a brunch. This year it will be tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, for dinner prior to Jeff and Mere going to her family gathering for a few days. Cara and Chris have Miss G, so usually Christmas day is their own, and I like that. I remember that it was important for me to have that day for the kids to just be here, doing what kids do and I like that they do the same thing with Miss G. I think it will be interesting to sit back and see how they (and maybe Jeff and Mere one day) start their own traditions and how those activities will mix from each family, what will be important and what is dropped.
For a time, just after Miss G was born I thought about bringing back the special ‘kid tree’ thinking that it could be something just for her and any other grand kids. But more thought led me to let that idea go. Those are memories that each family needs to make if they choose. I decided that I would rather be the grandma who rounds up all the kids early in December and bakes a bazillion cookies and fudge, letting them eat as they go, and then send them home on a sugar high to their parents while I sit back with a glass of wine and smile, and remember their parents as kids themselves.
To close, enjoy this charming musical interlude in honor of my oboist, clarinetist, and tenor sax players while I ponder a good 15 years with this song.