Something old, something new…   Leave a comment

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When I was a kid, Christmas morning was a frantic blur of activity. Not just because we were blessed with many presents to unwrap. Mainly because we had to accomplish an entire Christmas Day in a few short hours so that we could get on the road nice and early to head north to my paternal Nanny and Grampa’s house. We would rush through mad present opening, power down the decadent Christmas morning ‘farmer’s breakfast’ my mom was famous for (pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, hashbrowns – the works! Soooo good…), then head back to fly through more presents before getting cleaned up and presentable. It was rushed, frantic, and to be honest, sometimes felt like a bit of waste of time. All I wanted to do was laze around with my parents on one of the only days I actually got them all to myself (and together, which was equally rare). But instead, we rushed away to spend time with the side of the family that didn’t even seem to like us much.

Don’t get me wrong – my family dynamic was complicated, and I’m sure my Nanny and Grampa did like us. In their own, strange little way. Its just they weren’t very good at showing it. They found us too … energetic, I guess, too out of control, too excitable, too … child-like. We had none of the German discipline they respected. We were a decade younger than our other cousins, and comparably, probably pretty annoying. But to a kid, its pretty obvious when you are judged and found to be lacking. So to be honest, I learned to stop liking them too. But I never was quite able to teach myself not to care about it… So many of my memories of Christmas Day are bittersweet, a combination of fantastic and awful, exciting and excrutiating, as I tried to fit my ADHD-self into their strictly disciplined mold of an appropriately behaved child. Oh, how I tried. And every Christmas it would be the same. Rush rush rush through things with the people who really loved and accepted me to spend time with the people who just … didn’t.

Later in life, when I left the West coast to complete veterinary school on the Prairies, Christmas holidays again became a time of hectic travel. I so missed my family and friends back home, I couldn’t wait to get home to them. But at the same time, everyone wanted me to come to where they were, and I was so very run down after semester after semester of medical school, I just wanted to lie on the couch and veg, and have people rush around to see me, as if I was the Queen of Sheba. hey, I can acknowledge it was selfish and unreasonable. But the point is, it isn’t what happened.

I guess its a big reason why I told my husband early on that I wanted to start a family tradition that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would be spent at home with family. It was our first Christmas together in our own home, our first Christmas as a married couple, and I remember having a talk with him about what traditions we wanted to start as a family. That was mine – Christmas in our home. Every year. With our family. Now, some years, that has been a wonderful extended family, comprised of visiting grandparents and close friends who don’t have family locally to celebrate with. But whether by blood or not, its family, and its home. And its not rushed.

We have started several other traditions that I am fond of. I have written previously of our yearly treasure-hunt style Advent Calendar. I also love the tradition our Nanny (Will’s mom) has started with Bridget of making reindeer food out of sparkles and oats, sprinkling it on the lawn on Christmas Eve, then finding a “forgotten” reindeer bell (with each kid’s name and the year on it) on Christmas morning to hang on the tree. We usually make a yummy stuffed turkey – correction: Will usually cooks a turkey (haha! Can you imagine me trying that one!) and all the accoutrements, which we eat on Christmas Eve. We have continued to use the handknitted christmas stockings of Will’s youth – Nanny even had one ‘commissioned’ with my name on it! We leave cookies and milk for santa on a special plate that you can write him a message on. And, in the grand German tradition (who knows if this is why my parents did it, or if it was to make Christmas morning even faster?), we decided to carry on my family tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve each.
 
I hope that Bridget’s memories of Christmas are equally as magical as mine were. I loved Christmas as a child, I just wish those warm memories weren’t mixed with the somewhat darker feelings of being unwanted and marginalized. But no matter what, the parts that were wonderful were wonderful because we spent them together as a family. And those will be the memories I continue to make each year with my own family. Memories of fun, silliness, quiet companionship, Christmas music, eating goodies, and just being together…
This post was written as part of the Multiples and More Question of the Week Linky. 

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