I am beginning to think I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas.
I LOVE that true meaning of Christmas and all that we can learn about the birth of our Savior in Luke 2. I LOVE that we can take this time each year to set aside our "regularly scheduled programming" for joyous celebrations commemorating His birth. I LOVE celebrating with family and friends. I even LOVE it when I think up the perfect gift for someone.
Another thing I LOVE about Christmas are the traditions. I am a firm believer that holiday traditions help unify us as a family. When the kids know there are certain things they can count on "because it's tradition", it helps bring comfort and peace this time of year too. However, I also think, it's okay to make changes here or there and decide what works and what doesn't work. This year, as I've though about our Traditions, I feel like I'm in the midst of overhauling some of them.
I don't like feeling the stress and pressure that sometimes comes with the preparation of the celebrations. In past years (especially post-divorce) the closer Christmas came on the calendar the more anxiety I'd have and the more I felt like crawling underneath the covers and staying until after the holidays were over.
Last year I began to scrutinize my "traditions" and decided that if some of them were too stressful for me, they needed to go.
I love my neighbors, I truly do. But I used to stress too much over what to get this neighbor or that neighbor for the holidays and with very little room left in my budget, neighbor gifts became more of a burden for me than a joy. I thought it over and decided that I would have to just figure out other ways to let them know I cared and that a true neighbor wouldn't judge my love for them on the Christmas goody (or lack thereof) I brought them. So, in general, I've done away with giving neighbor gifts.
Another tradition of ours is that we don't open gifts until Mama wakes up, and you don't go waking her up if you know what's good for you! Hehehe. Well, something like that. Most of that started when I worked a late-night swing shift at the airlines and didn't get home from work until nearly 4 in the morning. My rule was to let me sleep in and we'd do Christmas gifts as soon as I woke up. I still enjoy doing that and my kids have always been respectful of that. It's just about the only day a year I can count on sleeping in. Because of that, by the time we get done with presents, it's almost lunch time. I decided about 6 years ago that instead of making Christmas breakfast, I'd include in their stockings some sort of breakfast bar or mini box of cereal, etc. That way, they can at least eat something besides their candy before lunch. This year we continued in that tradition by having Christmas PopTarts in our stockings. This is one tradition I love - because it takes the pressure off of me. So, for now - it stays.
Christmas Feasts... another daunting task. Thinking back to the Christmases growing up, some of my favorites were because we just got to lounge around all day and sort of do nothing. This year I found myself thinking, "Oh what I wouldn't give for a day like that." Then I thought, "Why not?" So, starting this year, in conjunction with the kids opening their new PJs, and watching our favorite Christmas movies together on Christmas Eve, our new tradition is to have our holiday feast on Christmas Eve. Then, we can graze on the left-overs, plus any other finger foods on Christmas day.
Christmas Schedules. It's so hard to coordinate schedules when you have split families and blended families, and in-laws, and ex-in-laws, and future in-laws, and I can't even keep track of it all. This year I worked hard to try and coordinate and plan when the kids would be where so that Christmas "worked" for everyone. Well, then some people got sick and others didn't seem to play by the rules or stick to the schedule and at one point, I decided I could either make a big fuss about it, or I could let it go. I thought about standing my ground and "making my point", etc. But then I thought about the kids and what I wanted them to remember about this Christmas 10 years from now. I definitely didn't want them to think of this as the Christmas their mother had a come-apart and went ballistic. So, I took a deep breath (or ten) and let it go - or am trying to anyway. Now that Christmas is officially over, I've decided that from now on, I'm not going to try to orchestrate schedules like I have in the past. I'm pretty much going to plan my Christmas and let everything else just happen as they will. It's all about being flexible, forgiving, and loving, right?
As far as all other traditions? Well, they will stay the same -- for now anyway.
What about you? Any tradition you'd like to overhaul or just plain ol' get rid of?