Not So Traditional

Like A Light, Jean McGuire, Oil On Canvas, ©2016

Christmas is this week. A friend asked me a few days ago how I was feeling about the holidays and I honestly had to stop and think about it. My first thought was: I am fighting a cold and I really don’t care about Christmas right now. Since even the Grinch would have to say, “Whoa, back off a little,” to that response, I decided to really think about how I feel.

My holidays have changed a lot in the last few years. My children are all grown with children of their own, and they have started their own traditions. Our once elaborate celebrations have been relegated to memories and life has moved on. These changes are all part of the cycle of life, but it’s definitely made it hard to grab hold of any Christmas spirit.

When my children were little, my favorite part of the holidays was the stockings. As much as I hated getting up in the middle of the night to Santa the house up, I loved the fun of filling the stocking with treats that made the girls eyes light up as much as their big presents. Stockings were filled in my home way after the “children” had all moved out, but eventually, the tradition got passed on and my daughters are now in charge of stocking stuffing.

I have never been one to do a lot of baking for the holidays. There were a few years when my daughters were all grown, but not too bogged down with children, when we did all get together to bake. Right now, it’s just too hard to find a day and time to get everyone together. Add in an attempt to eat healthier and holiday baking just doesn’t fit this year.

I love having my home decorated for the holidays, even though I don’t particularly enjoy the actual act of decorating. I know that’s a contradiction, but it’s my contradiction. I love the end effect of a lit tree with other decorative touches around the house. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like I can decorate for the holidays this year because I have a feline roommate who loves to climb my artificial trees and ride back down to the floor as they tip over. While it’s incredibly entertaining to watch, that particular habit of hers does not bode well for keeping a Christmas tree in the house. As far as decorating the rest of the house, the same cat loves to bat at anything that is on a flat surface, or that hangs from a vertical surface. I love my cat, but she definitely discourages me from decorating.

The last two holiday seasons have been particularly rough; my mom passed away in December of 2015, and her passing so close to the holidays definitely put a damper on our celebrations. However, after Christmas was over last year, I decided that I wanted to try and regain some of the magic of the holiday. Just because things have changed doesn’t mean I can’t have a little magic in my life.

So, what am I doing to fulfill last year’s vow to enjoy the holidays more? I am listening to holiday music more than I have the last few years. I found a Pandora station, Peaceful Holidays Radio, that plays quiet, more classical versions of all of the classic Christmas music I grew up with. I don’t feel like my ears are being assaulted by this music and it’s been a pleasant way to prepare for the holidays.

I have decided I am not going to give my kids or grandkids “stuff.” Instead, I have bought them memberships to activities they enjoy. One is getting martial arts classes, another is getting a zoo membership, and the others are getting activities I am equally as excite about giving them. I am proud of this decision, but it does not give me much to wrap. Each of the younger kids will have a small gift from me that they can unwrap along with their activity voucher, but my emphasis is on doing, not receiving “stuff.”

Last week one of my daughters and I took her son driving through the city looking at Christmas lights. We were singing songs, (okay, it was Baby Got Back, not holiday songs,) and laughing the whole time we were ooh-ing and aah-ing at all the lights. It’s been a long time since I took the time to look at the holiday decorations through the eyes of a child, and it was a lot of fun.

I have a party with friends this weekend. The theme is “Balls” and there have been lots of giggling conversations about who is bringing what. Earlier this week I bought a really large summer sausage, because, as I told them, what good are balls without a big sausage? Needless to say, this party may not be nurturing the child in me, but it’s certainly doing a lot for the 12-year old boy that’s never far from the surface.

One of my daughters, a single mother who won’t have her son that day, is joining me for shopping and imbibing on Christmas Eve. A local urban shopping district, Brookside KC, is having an event where participating shops will open early with mimosas for the shoppers that morning. Starting the day with mimosas and people watching sounds pretty darn delightful to me. There are other fun activities around the city that day and I am looking forward to party hopping from one event to another.

I am spending Christmas morning having breakfast at my daughter’s while we watch my grandson open presents. My intention as of right now is to wake up in my own bed, fix a cup of coffee and drive to her house in pajamas and slippers. Fortunately, she only lives a few minutes away, so I should be able to pull this off without too much chance of embarrassing myself or my loved ones.

As of right now, I have no idea what the rest of my holiday will hold, but I know I will do my best to enjoy it. It’s taken me a few years to adjust to my new normal, but with a little bit of intention this season, I can say it’s been a truly enjoyable holiday season. I hope your holiday, however you celebrate, is one of joy, peace, light, and love.



One thought on “Not So Traditional”

  1. Happiest of holidays Jeannie. I really enjoy your writing. And I am tuned to the Peaceful Holiday music also. Christmas is different since kids are grown and I have no grandkids…yet. But we must fully embrace the magical time of year – a renewal and hope of better things to come in all its sparkling glittering glory!! Peace to you my old friend. Come to Phoenix!

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