Sunday, December 20, 2009

Something Different For Christmas

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this year we are doing something different for Christmas.

This year has been a challenging one for my family.  For both of my siblings and their spouses, as well as for Geoff and me, 2009 has been a tough year - the causes are different, but all tough in their own way.  And of course, we've all been impacted by the others' challenges.

In large part for this reason, my parents decided a couple of months back that they wanted to take their kids (of which I am the middle of three), spouses, and six grandkids to California for a holiday: my brother and his boys from Vancouver, and the rest of us from here. This is the first time in about twenty years that we've done something like this and, the last time it happened, it was Christmas in Hawaii before my sister or I had met our life partners and before any of us had children.  Because we were able to find someone to care for our house and our cat, Geoff, Matthew, and I are leaving a number of days earlier than the beginning of our family gathering, so that we can enjoy the sights and each other's company a bit first.

So...because of the extravagance of this plan, we decided as a family that we would do things differently this year in the lead-up to Christmas: virtually no gift-giving.  Even amongst Geoff, Matthew and me, we're doing the bare minimum when it comes to gifts - one gift of $20 or less for each (in addition to which Matthew will be able to choose something at LegoLand after Christmas).

It has been my most relaxing Christmas on record...hence the enjoyment of watching my toenails dry last week!  While most people around me have been scurrying around getting ready for Christmas over the past number of weeks, I have had virtually nothing to do related to Christmas.  I've managed to evade the malls entirely, purchase very few gifts, attend a few Christmas parties in a non-harried state...and that's pretty much it.  No baking, no decorating, no running around like a decapitated chicken.  For the one baking-required event that I was involved with this past week, my mother kindly (bless her) let me take three dozen of her little treats!

I can honestly say that I haven't missed the usual frenetic activity that I associate with this time of year at all - in fact, quite the opposite...this year rocks! The experience prompted me to ask the question of yesterday's post and to wonder what I've been doing wrong all of the years before this one.  When I think of the pace I've maintained every other Christmas that I can remember, trying to make it perfect, and then compare those experiences to this one, I'm dumbfounded.  Last year around this time, Matthew and I made a trip to a local food bank/shelter and brought them over two hundred great Christmas goodies that we had baked the year before and had never eaten; for a whole year, those dang things took up a whole lot of freezer space, until I finally divested myself of them to some folks who (turns out) LOVED them.  The only problem was that I then decided that I'd been a bit hasty in ridding us of all of our Christmas baking, so Matthew and I baked two new types of delicacies (most of which still sit in the freezer today).  It's a vicious cycle that I want to escape.

Of course, it's highly unusual that we're away at Christmas time, so I'm already fast-forwarding and thinking about next year. I want to do things differently.  Hence the question I asked in yesterday's post.

I haven't figured out how to do it yet, but I know I want the experience of next year's Christmas season to be closer to this year's experience than the past years' frenetic pace.  It has surprised me a great deal to observe that Matthew could not care less about the fact that he's going to receive only one small gift from us this year.  He gets that this year is about focusing on spending time together as a family instead of gift-giving and receiving.  It makes me wonder, truly, about how much of Christmas expectations children have are really merely reflections of the needs that we/I have to do things in grand style.  I've tried so hard to make Christmas perfect for my son in the past few years and, if I resume those activities next year, what will he learn that Christmas is all about?  I mean, really, it is so obvious - and yet, it's taken me the relative objectivity of this year's hiatus to recognize it.  What insecurity, what fear, is it within me that makes me need to place such emphasis on these types of traditions?

I am increasingly convinced that there must be a better way to 'do' Christmas...and I am determined to find it.  This year is the starting point.

As this post is published, we will getting ready to leave for the airport, enjoying the prospect of a Christmas without snow.  Tonight will find us near, or at, the Pacific ocean in Santa Monica, California.  My computer is traveling with me and most of the locations we will be at are apparently equipped with wireless internet connections.  So...I hope to be found here on a regular basis over the holidays.  I look forward to sharing highlights of the season and our vacation with you.  I also look forward to passing along any insights I glean from this year's uniqueness.

Blessings all!

1 comment:

  1. Have a fantastic trip! We will have my husband's sister and my mom and her husband here to spend Josina's first Christmas with us. Can't wait!
    Merry Christmas! Can't wait to hear all about your trip!