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Sunday, November 19, 2006
I'll Be Home for Christmas
As I mentioned in my previous post, we're not travelling "home" for Christmas this year. This is the first time we'll spend Christmas without either of our families, since my Mom called a few days ago to say that she, Dad, Julie, and Rob are not coming here, either. Just as my Dad was getting ready to purchase tickets for the whole family to travel to Midwestern State (they would have come by train), my Mom decided that she "just needed to be home this year" and so they pulled the plug on the trip. My Mom is like that -- indeed, I was never wholly convinced that they would actually come for Christmas. She's very much a homebody and sometimes invents reasons to stay there. I can't really blame her: they have a lovely home, and it's especially lovely at Christmas. She said, "maybe we'll come next Christmas," but I'm wise enough to know that the same thing will happen next year. She'll find a reason that she "just needs to be home this year."

My sister Julie called this morning, wondering if I was upset that they weren't coming and that I wasn't going to be "home" for Christmas. To my surprise, I'm not upset about anything other than the fact that Mom got my hopes up ever-so-slightly for something I never really thought would happen. Sure, I love spending the holidays with my family. We have a lot of great family traditions that T and I are both sorry to miss, and we're sad that ST won't spend Christmas with his grandparents, aunt, and uncle. But at the same time, I know that I, too, "just needed to be home" for Christmas this year. Home State isn't really my "home" anymore. I haven't lived there since 1997. "Home" for me is wherever T and ST are.

This year, then, will be fun for us because we'll be inventing our own holiday traditions. We've never decorated much for Christmas or put up a huge Christmas tree because we were always going somewhere else for Christmas. This year, I'm going to work hard to make it special for ST, so that he knows what HIS family does for Christmas. Some of my parents' traditions will carry over: leaving presents from Santa outside in the snow, for example, or listening to The Nutcracker while decorating the tree. But I'm excited to think of new things to do, things that will be etched in ST's mind as special and unique to our little family. If my parents and siblings actually DO come for Christmas next year, they'll have to fit into OUR traditions.

What makes your holiday special? What are your family's traditions?
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 11/19/2006 01:53:00 PM  
9 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's hard not to go home for the holidays, but it's also fun to create your own family traditions. I grew up with a lot of siblings, and one of our traditions was that on Christmas Eve afternoon, we would decorate the sugar cookies together, and then pick our favorites to leave out for Santa. Mom would give each of us a paper towel with little piles of colored sugar, sprinkles, red hots, etc, and she would sit at the head of the table and put icing on the cookies and hand them over. When my son was younger, I wanted to continue this, but he's an only child. So I started having cookie decorating parties - he could invite one friend for every year old he was. Three friends when he was three, etc. Each kid got to take home half of the cookies s/he decorated, and they all had a blast. Of course, their favorite part was also mine as a child: pooling all the leftover sugar and decorations on the paper towel at the end, and eating it. I still have photos of my son and his friends showing off their colored tongues at the end of the afternoon! And I also stuck to one of mom's rules: the grownup must have a beer during this event!

  • At 11:26 PM, Blogger L said…

    I LOVE this post, and I'll have to come back later to respond to your question :)

  • At 8:01 AM, Blogger Aliki2006 said…

    This whole topic is a little bittersweet for me--I love Christmas with my family--we all go all out and my memories of Christmas are wonderful and warm. I *love* going home for Christmas and watching my kids enjoy the traditions I grew up with. But a part of me would love to h ave some of our own Chrismtas traditions, too. I do think at some point we're going to have to make a break and have Christmas Day at our own house, just because I do think that's important for the kids. But then again I get sad if I think about doing that and *not* being with my own family. It's a dilemma.

    Some of the traditions I grew up with--singing carols around the piano on Christmas Eve, sugarplum cookies, my Dad wearing a Santa hat and distributing the gifts (in my family there's never a chaotic ripping open of paper, we open them one by one so we can all marvel in the gifts, but this makes the process so long!).

    I do love Christmas!

  • At 8:23 AM, Blogger ZaPaper said…

    Aw, what a sweet question. One particular classical guitar CD, stockings--STILL (one year my bro and I made stockings for my parents, which they thought hilarious), my mom having whiskey and chocolate for breakfast (don't worry, it's only once a year) followed by a hearty breakfast of eggs etc. after emptying out the stockings, opening presents--sometimes fast, sometimes slow, then going off in separate directions for a while to play with them.

    Later, a big family dinner in the early afternoon with as many family as are around (and no guilt for the ones who aren't, which has been me and the past and will be again this year), and usually some tasty and unconventional contributions from the Korean branch of the family. And finally, a longish walk to help digest all that food. Oregon winters are mild and damp, rarely any snow. It makes me homesick to think of it.

  • At 9:51 AM, Blogger phd me said…

    Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. I love all the lead up to it - not the stuff in the stores after Halloween but the buying presents and putting up the tree and baking all sorts of goodies. Stockings were the big thing in my family. We always had stockings hung by the chimney with care and they were the last things we "opened" on Christmas morning. They'd be full of candy and little things (pens, socks, toys) but there would always be one big present; I still remember the watch I got one year!

    Even though I'm single, I like the idea of having my own traditions and staying at home, too, PM. On Christmas Eve for the last few years, I've plugged in the tree, fixed a nice meal, watched the National Lampoon Christmas movie (my all-time favorite holiday movie) and then gone to the Christmas Eve service. I'll be a little sad to miss that, since I won't be at home this year. I was just wondering this weekend if I would get a tree. I want to but if I'm going to be gone for a long time over the holiday, I'm not sure it's worth it.

  • At 10:27 AM, Blogger Margaretha Geertsema-Sligh said…

    As a newly minted PhD (2005), I've been following your writings for a while. I very much enjoy them and can't believe how much of the same things we are going through. Crazy! In Far Away Country, where I'm from, we really didn't do much for Christmas. We kept it simple, so over the last few years I've learned a lot about American Christmas celebrations. This will be my first Christmas being married, and we also decided to stay at home this year. We just bought a lovely tree and will be decorating on Saturday.

  • At 11:06 AM, Blogger Prof. Me said…

    Thanks so much for all of these fantastic, happy comments! Keep them coming. I already think I'm adopting the Christmas Eve cooking baking for Santa idea -- ST would LOVE that.

    Here are some of the things my family traditionally does:

    Decorate the tree on my birthday (12/14) listening to The Nutcracker

    Christmas Eve dinner before Mass with my Norwegian grandmother (= dinner filled with potatoes)

    Open presents after Mass on Christmas Eve listening to Bing Crosby (music is a huge part of my family's tradition)

    Santa leaves presents outside in the snow after Mass

    Christmas Day travel to see my extended family (35 minute drive) and open MORE presents and eat a huge Polish-German meal

    Like you, Aliki, gift-opening is a long, drawn-out affair so everyone can see and appreciate everything. Among adults, we usually exchange names and do one large gift each, or we go the stocking stuffer route and everyone buys everyone else something for their stocking (usually $10-15).

    Margix, good to hear from you! I'm glad that you've found my blog useful, and I hope to hear from you again!

    Keep those comments coming -- I really enjoy reading them (and hope others do, too).

  • At 9:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We always went out a couple of weeks before Christmas and had a nice dinner and looked at all of the lights searching for the houses with the best lights. The night before Christmas my parents had "santa" call to say he was leaving. Our first christmas day present always came from Rudolph, (a new pair of pajamas) and we got one present the night before christmas, a new book every year. Plus we got a letter from Santa every christmas day telling us about our accomplishments over the year.

  • At 3:48 AM, Blogger Leah said…

    We like outdoor Carols by Candlelight (organised events held in parks) or Carol services in church the week before Christmas. This year each child is going to choosing a gift for a child of thier own age to give to the (charity) wishing tree. We have Santa stockings as soon as we wake up, and after Christmas lunch (and after the dishes are done) we open the rest of the presents. Only one present is opened at a time, so we all get to see everything. We have a boiled Christmas pudding, so Mum puts that on to cook before we leave for church. I'm not sure where we'll be for Christmas this year, but it will be wonderful anyway!

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