Friday, November 9, 2012

Ending the Love/Hate Relationship

I LOVE the holidays!  From October 1st all the way through January 1st is my favorite time of year.  Fall is my favorite season, my birthday and Punky’s are in October and then we celebrate Halloween (which my whole family loves).  Next, comes the preparation and plans for Thanksgiving all the while starting our Christmas shopping and gathering this and that to go, do, or see during the Christmas holiday.  We have a few traditions that we’ve carved out for ourselves in the 11 years we’ve had Punky.
Halloween is trick-or-treating at our house with friends and then time around the bonfire.  The costume selection process is extensive for Punky and the excitement is always high!  Then we move into the month of Thanks, which I love because while I know that we are to be grateful all year long (we certainly try to be) I like having a reason to really ponder and focus on all we have to be thankful.  Some years we spend Thanksgiving with family or with friends and some we spend just us three, but always culminating in the decorating of the house for Christmas. 

Christmas Season sheppards in our annual boat trip around a local lake where the homes all decorate their backyards for our viewing pleasure.  There’s ‘Lunch with Santa’, which is how Punky has visited with Santa since she was four.  Of course there is also the hunt for a new Christmas dress to wear for lunch with Santa as well.  There is also our evening with friends where we decorate Christmas cookies!  Christmas Eve, Grammy and Poppi arrive and we begin our Christmas celebration with our traditional Lasagna dinner.  This is a tradition Grammy (my mother) started when I was a child.  She tried to think of the most ‘un-Christmas like’ meal to prepare for Christmas Eve and lasagna it was!  I’ve continued that tradition for all the years hubby and I have been married.  Grammy and Poppi put the final two ornaments on the Christmas tree.  They are special ones for them: The Grinch for Grammy and Oswald (the precursor to Mickey Mouse) for Poppi.  We play games and listen to Christmas carols and of course leave treats for Santa!

Christmas morning heralds in much the same manner that it does for many families, I suspect.  The opening of the presents, Christmas breakfast – always served with a new, unique jam or jelly I hunt for at the Christmas craft festivals.  Last year it was Carrot Cake jam and this year it will be Strawberry Amaretto!  Christmas dinner preparations, more game playing, as well as playing with our ‘new toys’ is how we spend the day until dinner time!  All in all, a fabulous holiday season, which is topped off by a New Year’s Eve party that often includes fireworks.

Now, doesn’t that all sound grand?

I HATE the holidays!  We just get finished decorating and celebrating Punky’s birthday (right in the middle of October) and it’s immediately time to decorate the house for Halloween!  Ugh!  Getting all that stuff out of the attic, unpacking it, putting it all up is exhausting.  And then there’s dropping $40-50 on Halloween candy to hand out to children who, seem to put less and less effort into wearing a costume, not to mention showing any manners.  Then before we blink, it’s time to put those decorations away and haul out all the Christmas stuff! 
Trying to figure out what to buy for gifts, trying to locate the items, trying to schedule in all the ‘Norman Rockwell’ moments into the season so that Punky will have warm, loving memories.  I always end up feeling ‘less than good enough’ upon hearing all of the neat traditions/activities that other families do for the holidays.  Grocery shopping for the Thanksgiving Day meal, Christmas morning breakfast, and Christmas dinner! 

Decorating the Christmas tree – putting up the lights!  Ugh!!

Trying to make my parents feel comfortable in my home and pass my mother’s white-glove inspection is nerve racking as well.  I hate cooking and I’m not exceptionally good at it either (see first blog post).  So preparing all these ‘big’ meals is headache inducing for me.  All the while feeling like I should be enjoying it all more while it’s happening, being fully aware that my emotions are inappropriate.

Last year, as a result of my parents’ illnesses, they were unable to travel to be with us for Christmas and the same will be true this year.  Last year it was just the three of us on Christmas.  On one hand it didn’t feel like Christmas; my parents’ absence was strongly felt.  On the other hand, we had the most laid back and relaxed Christmas we have ever enjoyed.  There was just less stress. Punky decorated the tree, for the most part, while I was an audience member.  I really enjoyed that.  She was delighted to be in charge of such an important task!  Christmas breakfast and dinner was the same; just on a smaller scale and we meandered through our day, just us three, pleasantly.

I learned a valuable lesson last holiday season.  Do what you want, when you can, without worry about what ‘should be’.  You’ll enjoy it more, even if it’s less.

This holiday season will be SO different from any other since Punky turned our ‘two’ into ‘three’.  Hubby deploys the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Total bummer, especially for Punky!  However, instead of trying to cram in everything before he goes or trying to make it ‘normal’, I’ve decided to step way outside of the box.  My folks won’t be here and hubby won’t be here so there really is no point in trying to do ‘traditional’.  I believe it will just make Punky, and me, all the more sad for what is missing. 

We haven’t decided quite yet what exactly we will do, but Punky and I are pretty good at flying by the seat of our pants.  So that’s probably what we will do – head down the Holiday path and see where it leads us because I know for sure that as long as we are relaxed, great memories will be made!  

P.S. The photos in this blog post are what I hope Christmas looks like at our house when in reality it probably looks more like scenes from this.......

And I probably look like this…..

~Mari B.

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