12.01.2008

Christmas Wishes

In our blended family, I have always let Christmas be something that we anticipate at home, but celebrate at Gramma’s. We bring out only token decorations, and these must go up surreptitiously, sneaking past Chris’ cynicism, until they find their home in a subtle locale.

We bake a lot of cookies, swapping dinosaur-shaped cookie cutters for snowman-shaped cutters, and I love to creatively wrap the gifts that I have collected for our loved ones. The Christmas music comes on December first and stays on until December 26, and I map out a schedule of all of the appropriate specials for me and Bee to watch, curled up on the couch together under a blanket, eschewing her normal bedtime so that we can watch beloved claymation moments from my girlhood squeeze their way into hers.

But this year, it just doesn’t feel like enough. Maybe it is that we now have two girls, and I desire for them to embrace, to be embraced by, our special traditions and family customs. Or maybe it’s that I have returned to work and am away from my girls at the exact time of year that we focus most on family and being together, and I just need to cling to whatever lines I can grab hold of right now, hoping to be towed back in.

Whatever it is, I am finding myself seized by big, glowing yearnings that had only just slightly glimmered in the past. I want to put cute pictures of my children on holiday cards and then actually mail them to our loved ones. I want to take my kids to sit on Santa’s lap, and then pay outrageous sums for a blurry picture of them, arms outstretched, pleading for parental rescue. I want to make homemade hot chocolate and put it in my pretty mason jars adorned with ribbon.

I want a Christmas tree, dammit. And I want to put Christmas ornaments and Hanukkah dreidles on it, and I want little feathered birds to peek out from behind its branches, and I want to shoo the cat away from it and keep babies from crawling around it, and I don’t want my house to pass idly by the holiday season just because we wake up Christmas morning somewhere else.

I want cozy nights with fat snowflakes falling quietly on our street, and late mornings with babies in footed pajamas clamouring around while I make French toast and coffee.

With my sister preparing Hanukkah celebrations and Chris’ family where we go for (admittedly, a lovely, lovely) Christmas, I feel like I have outsourced the holidays. As much as everybody’s efforts do nothing but bring joy and smiles, I want to do more this year. I want to wrap my girls in the festive spirit and have them look forward to more than just going to someone else’s house and unwrapping presents.

I want them to remember the delicious smells coming from their own home; to groan (and then smile) when I line them up for a family photo; to know that every year, Bubby does that and Gramma does that, and Mummy does this. I want their favourite part of the holidays to be the time we spend together.

And to know that the time we spend with them is better than anything we could ever find under the tree.

15 comments:

  1. Girl, you should get yourself a big ole gaudy tree. That's what we're doing next weekend. I can't tell you how much Jane loves it.

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  2. The tree is a must for us. A REAL tree. The sight of that brings joy to my heart every holiday day. We spend a lot of time just hanging out and examining the ornaments.

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  3. *big sigh* This post really spoke to me (um, they all do but this one is on mind this week). I want to do Christmas up right so badly it hurts. But we don't spend it at home and the Christmas we celebrate is so different from the one I had as a child. I want Gigi to remember Christmas the way I remember it when I was kid, I want it so bad it hurts. You are so right, it's nothing to do with gifts but the magic of sharing and family. Sorry to hijack the comments, it's just I'm a bit worked about this right now.

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  4. I feel this post.

    I want a tree this year... even though we won't be spending Christmas here... I want a tree.

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  5. Absolutely. Christmas morning for us is hectic and crazy - SO not what I want for my kids. The kids get their stockings here, then whiz! into the car (in jammies and slippers) to Papa's house (grandfather) to open presents then wham! home for our gifts under the tree then back in the car again! (dressed and spit-shined, at last) for Christmas lunch at my SILs.

    I'm claiming Christmas Eve as OURS. Doing some special dish that will become a tradition, driving around the neighborhood to see the lights (with hot chocolate in a thermos and the kids in their pajamas under their winter coats) and good smells and soft music everywhere in our house....

    Sorry to hijack, but it's bothered me how busy we are on Christmas since the kids were born. This year, you have cemented my resolve to take back the night!

    (err, or something...)

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  6. I agree with everyone one else - go all out on whatever makes you happy.
    For the record my tree is staying in the basment bc trees stress me out, but the advent calendar, the stockings and all the decor the mice didn't get into (remember my last year of hell??) are up and pretty.
    my house acutally doesn't look that great but the girls had a great time putting santa's village and all the other fisher price toys out for the season along with the christmas books.
    go nuts. and post photos!
    christmas is totally a co-opted pagan holiday what with the tree and all so choose what you like. I do highly recommend the photo with Santa though!

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  7. It's time to own it, girl. It's definitely time to own it. Have fun discovering all the magic that you choose to create.

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  8. Okay, I am too sappy now. You got me with the feet pjs! Love the dress by the way. And...what are you doing this summer? Just a question because Nicholas' buddy is getting married out your way in July and I think it's high time for a little visit!

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  9. No real celebrations here as Christmas is not our holiday, yet Hanukkah feels somewhat foreign to me. Still don't know what to do to make myself happy this time of year. I bought presents for my daughter today and don't even know which occasion I'm giving them to her for.

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  10. There IS something magic about holidays that makes you want to create your own traditions. We didn't have a ton in my family, but I am working on a few for my babes. I even managed to get the advent calendar loaded in time! Yay me! Woo-hoo!

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  11. wow, you just made me excited for xmas.. great post!

    btw I am going to follow youon twitter as Iamjavamama in case you're wondering who that is!

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  12. Oh I totally get this! My problem is that the monkey is, like, WHATEVER about Hanukkah! She's ALL about CHRISTMAS. I can't believe how hard it is for me to explain to her that we celebrate Hanukkah, and not Christmas.... Oy. I'll just have to decorate HARD! ;)

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  13. Trees really are so festive. The glow in the evening when they're lit is truly magical.

    And I get you on wanting to reinforce the traditions and the feel of the holidays rather than presents presents presents. This, I'm thinking, will be an ongoing challenge in our house.

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  14. I love that you want to do everything you listed! I did a family advent calendar this year (it's not too late for you) and each morning my girls open an envelope to reveal what activity we will do as a family that day to celebrate Christmas. All simple little activities and it's been great. It makes the entire month of December about celebrating and doesn't put all the focus on Christmas day.

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  15. blah, blah, blogDecember 22, 2008

    Very well done. You've captured the mood perfectly.

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