Thanksgiving has now come and gone, and our attentions have been turned over to Christmas decorating and preparations. The outside lights were installed a week or so ago, and finally turned on for the first time Thanksgiving night. The inside decorations are being completed this weekend - we traditionally start Thanksgiving night by “un-decorating” all of the fall / Thanksgiving decorations, and pulling out the assorted boxes of Christmas decorations. Some of the Christmas things start to appear that night, while most remain in boxes until Friday and Saturday. As of last night, each of the boxes had effectively belched out their contents, and our dining table, which just 2 short days ago held a beautiful feast for the family to enjoy – now held a vast array of decorations, books, Christmas towels and pot holders to be moved around the house and placed into their respective spots for the next 5-6 weeks.
The Christmas CD’s have been moved into a place of prominence too, as the sounds of the season fill our home daily. And the various recipes that are traditionally only used at Christmas-time have started to come out for their annual incorporation into our cooking and baking regimen… soon the smells of Christmas will permeate our home as well.
I love the Christmas season. I always have. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s always been a time to spend with family and loved ones. A time to enjoy one another, and put aside many of the junk that goes on during the year.
As a young person, my Christmases were always divided between both sides of the family. We always spent Christmas Eve with my mother’s side of the family – my grandparents, great aunt & uncles and assorted cousins, and sometimes my aunt & uncle (my mom’s sister) and their girls. We would rotate between our house, my grandmother’s house and my great-aunt’s house (grandmother’s sister), as we all lived within just a few miles of each other. Christmas Day was at home, and my grandparents (the same ones as Christmas Eve) would show up at our house around lunch time for the afternoon.
We would also celebrate Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, but it was always either before or after Christmas, depending on my aunt & uncle’s (dad’s sister-in-law & brother) family schedule. There we would see my aunt & uncle, and their boys, as well as my grandparents, and assorted great aunts & uncles. Those gatherings are fond memories today as many of those beloved relatives are all long gone, not to mention the fact that 14 years ago my lovely bride and I moved out of California for the first time, leaving those types of family gatherings behind. It’s just not possible to gather like that any longer when you live 2200+ miles away from the assorted family members.
These days our family gatherings take place when family comes to us, or if we are able to transport ourselves back to California for a visit, which is typically not done at the holidays. As my own family grew, my bride and I decided we wanted to be at home each year for Christmas, and in the 14 years of being in the Midwest, we’ve done just that for 13 of those years. Only one time did we venture somewhere else, and that was in 2010 when we traveled back to California to spend Christmas there with her dad, who essentially dying of cancer (it was protracted, but did happen before Christmas rolled around again in 2011, so we were all glad we went). Even our kids have determined the same thing – they all want to be home for Christmas. Even their love of all parks Disney won’t sway them, and you won’t find us in a Disney theme park for Christmas. We’re just homebodies that way, I guess. But it’s a good thing. We’ve created traditions, and the kids don’t want to forgo them. I can definitely appreciate that, as I didn’t want to forgo the traditions I knew as a kid either. There was a nice sense of stability and security in knowing that even though some things might modify each year, the holidays were going to be the same.
This year marked the second year in a row that my folks have been with us for Thanksgiving. It’s been a great visit, and we’ve had a lot of fun together, just hanging out and enjoying family time. Last night we spent a couple of hours just playing UNO together. The laughter around the table was contagious. The smiles were genuine, and the memories being created were priceless. I remember times just like that when I was a kid, sitting around the table playing UNO and other games with my grandparents. I want my children to fondly remember their grandparents in the future when they have families of their own. And I cherish every opportunity that we get.
This year also marked a milestone for my kids and their grandparents, well – at least for my middle son – who has now surpassed his grandmother in height. Yes, my son is now taller than my mother, and he is beaming about it. He’s on his way to surpassing his own mother, but hasn’t made it just yet, but wow was he excited when he realized he was taller than his “Pama.” Another rite of passage that I know he’ll remember for a long time.
My daughter learned – or rather re-learned how to knit with this visit as well. My mother taught her last year on their visit, but she quickly forgot after their departure home. But this time she’s picked it up quickly and has been doing a great job with her Christmas present of a scarf for her American Girl doll. She’s already started another project now, and thinks she won’t forget how as quickly this time around; only time will tell, but it’s been fun to watch her emulate her grandmother so much in the creative arts. My mother has sewn, knitted and crocheted all her life, spending her working years as a professional tailor. Seeing my daughter take after her grandmother in some of those areas is pretty neat.
My daughter has also been the featured "model" for my lovely bride's new Etsy shop, where she and my mother have teamed up to sell some of my mother's hand-crafted wares. They offer a number of items for American Girl dolls and their mommies - or - little girls and their favorite dolls. This really wasn't meant to be a pitch for their site, but the photography throughout the past week, and a couple of trips to the store so that mother could purchase more yarn for the projects she's been working on this week alone, and the new tubs filled with hats, sweaters and more taking up space in my house have all been part of my Thanksgiving weekend. So with that said, if you have a little girl in your life who likes American Girl dolls, and you'd like to get something for her that is unique and not going to be found on the A.G. website, I invite you to take a moment and check out the shop here.
I love the holidays and have shared a few of my favorite things about them… what do you love about the holidays, and why?
Until next time,