Friday, November 15, 2013

Making New Traditions - And Simple Sized Holidays

For the past six years, my Thanksgiving and Christmases were spent with my greater Dallas family. A couple times I considered trying to head to Denver for Thanksgiving, but school and other obligations came into play. Traditionally, I traveled to Denver immediately after Christmas and we had our family celebration on this end on New Year's Eve. I also traveled for the fall leaves and often an early summer trip as well.

This year my holidays are experiencing a change, from the where's and whens to the hows.  Most folks experience changes in holiday traditions and circumstances at various times.  Our kids grow up, families or or geography change,  and traditions for the holidays have to adjust as well.  Children grow up and we either leave the stockings behind or make it so all the families can contribute.  Our adult children have partner/spouses and holidays are divided or alternated. Gift giving habits change as well.  We may downsize or simplify the holidays by choosing only gag gifts, making gifts or drawing names.

In our case, once our children were at a certain age we opened stockings after returning from Christmas Eve church services.  We were all of a mind to sleep late, or as late as canine family members allow. Everyone had a chance to contribute to said stockings prior to leaving for church. This is just one example.  In the early years, we always had homemade lasagna on Christmas eve. One year I was too ill to do this and we had plates full of appetizers and eggnog for dinner (many store bought and ready to go). This was such a hit that we alternated for many years between the two options.

For years, I was buying eleven gifts for family in Dallas, and various organizational gifts as well. Lists were exchanged, and many requests were of the gift card variety. I tend to be rather two faced on this one-I love giving gift cards but prefer to shop for gifts. This year, the family as a whole decided a change was in order.  As such we entered our names in a program and each person drew one name-with an eighty dollar limit.  This was a more sensible solution with my in laws in a retirement home and literally ALL of the teen/adult second generation in school full time. Small family groups still share gifts.



 In our case, we do fairly involved stockings and  a few gifts.  Believe it or not, I've reverted to the old standard for my adult children. Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read (or watch or play). Since both of my children are in school full time, the something they need will be Amazon cards for school books (does anyone actually buy textbooks at the school bookstore any more)? Here in Denver, we share gifts of various amounts without lists.  It's what works here and now. As always I give one large full sized quilt each holiday and this year my brother the "old timey" quilt lover is the recipient.



As far as the travel, where to spent what holiday where, well.........changes are in the spectrum.  This year at least, I see a one eighty in terms of change. I had thought to travel to Dallas for Thanksgiving, however the logistics simply don't seem to work. Thanksgiving is late, and final exams follow immediately on the Monday afterwards.  Also, frankly I am in a new house, with a new living situation and not even unpacked all the way (don't ask). 

 My daughter was here for four days, so we spent time together.  As for Christmas, well, my daughter is spending the holidays with her significant other's family. She was considering how to divide the holidays with her father's family in Dallas, me here and his mother (his father died on Easter) in Houston. I gently explained that that idea was folly. She needed to choose a place. We agreed that she would spend THIS Christmas in Houston and NEXT Christmas here and she can work out the Thanksgivings.  I have seen families rush from brunch to lunch to dinner, and even without kids involved I did not want her to have to do that. This is a calm, happy solution for all.

So....... the end result is that I will most likely spend Christmas in my new house and travel to Dallas after the holidays for the new year-when there are no school holidays and I can spend time with my daughter and her boyfriend and puppy. It does mean that I will need to travel about to see everyone versus one holiday meal, but that may be the less stressful option anyway. As I said, a full tradition reversal at least for this year

So with that decision aside, I am ready for my holiday challenges - beginning with how to combine TWO households full of collectible Christmas objects, where to put my Christmas Village, making (and buying) gifts, baking and decorating on my budget  and more.

As I've shared before, I am a lover of all holidays, especially Christmas. I am not one to forgo the gifts, the food, even the entertainments. For me, this means a bit of DIY (appreciated in my family), occasional gifts of time and experiences, a small amount of organization, alternative solutions and making sure that I have plenty of time to enjoy the season.

And now I'm off to bake and make memory pages-which I'll soon be able to show you all.  Note to self:  when you drop a camera on the cement floor, forget about repair. Get another one and fast. and be more careful with the second camera.

16 comments:

  1. You sound thoughtful and well prepared. These decisions re changes can be difficult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's always interesting and I have already been asked by the dallas family if I am coming for Christmas. I think this year I need to get settled into the lifestyle here.

      Delete
  2. It sounds like you have worked about a good solution. I have also had to change my idea of an "ideal" Christmas once my daughter moved across country and I moved from where they all grew up. We at first thought an every other year would work and it did for awhile. And the year we had no family with us we went to Paris. But that only works for awhile because in the end, the holidays are about family. Last Christmas everyone came here and it was lovely. But now our son has two young children and I think it's too difficult for them to travel. And this is the "other" year where our children will spend the holidays with their significant other's parents so we are off to the San Juan Islands for some R & R. But I have to say, it will all never be the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree things change. But remember we have always lived far away from my husband's parents and most of our Christmases were spent just the four of us, with a trip every few years to family. My husband's job did not allow long holiday breaks. So we are used to not having twenty people.although this year we will, just the people on my side instead of hubbys side. We did travel once on the holiday.

      Delete
  3. I love Christmas; hate Thanksgiving. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the decorations! Anyway, as you say, things do change as we get older and the family moves on. We're going out for dinner with relatives on T'giving -- first time we haven't cooked a turkey at home, and I think I'll like it better that way. Haven't got Christmas plans yet. Too early.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy your self. for the first half of my marriage my husband was in the private club business and as you can imagine in order to be with dad it meant going to one of his clubs and eating with him-same with Easter. On the one level I hate to eat out because I know how many people have to work and be with their families that day, but it does make it different and eeasier.

      Delete
  4. I'm anticipating Christmas holidays. My friend taught me that half or more of the fun is in the planning & preparation, just as for vacations. Changing family dynamics have an impact on the holidays. My adult son and his family come home for the holidays in a "flurry" trying to capitalize on the visit home to connect with old friends and I get tired watching it. It detracts from my goal of quiet times around the fire and playing outside but I am trying to reconcile with this. It's an opportunity to be with them for a limited time and I will make the most of it. I'm learning to enjoy what is rather than succumb to my sometimes fairy tale expectations of the perfect holiday. Barb, I like your gift giving plan - a want, a need, a wear, a read. The gift-giving is getting simpler with each passing year in our family. I shop all year long; when I see something appropriate I pick it up and put it in the tickle trunk for Christmas. I'm able save and reduce holiday stress.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This year we are staying home for Christmas and the boys are traveling to us.

    I started my baking today and just love how the house smells. I plan on doing more tomorrow and hopefully finishing by the end of next week.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not quite started yet, but I ha ve a plan in plce

      Delete
  6. We've been caught in the trap of always having to be the ones to travel to see family ... the older I get, the less I want to drive several hours just to navigate the chaos. (and that's another story). Last year we went out to dinner and Christmas Eve services,then had a nice quiet day at home. Best holiday I've had in a while ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you. Sounds like you needed it!

      Delete
  7. I have enjoyed changing up our various holiday traditions as the years and family dynamics have changed.No one realized we all kind did NOT like the creamy seafood casserole that was somehow a family "must" on Christmas Eve.. till I STOPPED MAKING IT. I just couldn't eat in one more time! I HATE cream sauces!!!! Now,Christmas Eve is much more flexible..sometimes we go to a movie, or to friends, or host a gathering here, or..whatever!And the menu changes.Often seafood, but more like Steamed mussels and salmon dishes, not the 1960's creamy thing we all disliked. This year we will share Thanksgiving with our son's girlfriend's family..I love meeting new people and who knows, we may become in laws! Barb: My favorite part of this blog post is the part where you GIVE QUILTS TO YOUR FAMILY!! WOULD YOU ADOPT ME??? What a generous and caring gift!! I also love to bake, my fingers are itching to get started this year.Thanks for sharing your holiday tidbits with us--I am already in the Spirit! P.S.I am not a sewer, but quilts fascinate me.. is there hope for me to become a quilter?Does it take a ton of equipment and skill.Would love to make quilts out of old garments we have..teeshirts,jeans,robes,etc..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can make a quilt out of almost anything. Really you just need a good cutting tool and ruler and your sewing machine and perhaps some material to keep the tshirts stable. Ihave not done a lot of memory tshirts (wedding dresses and such) but they are easy to work with.

      Delete
  8. This holiday season will be an interesting one. We have everyone here, including significant others and children of significant others, for Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to it, while also dreading the work involved. There's no getting around the work of having company stay over. And there is no getting around that preparing a beautiful, homemade Thanksgiving feast pretty much demands that the day be spent almost entirely in the kitchen. Although I can make some things, like the cranberry relish and pumpkin pie, ahead of time, a lot of it simply can't. Like the piping hot rolls, the creamy mashed potatoes, carving up the roasted turkey, and, of course, the gravy made from the finished turkey juices.

    We'll be gone for much of December on an out-of-country trip, returning just a couple of days before Christmas Eve. We'll be at my daughter's home for Christmas Eve and Christmas, and I'm excited to be entertained for the first time ever on Christmas, rather than to be the one doing the entertaining. And because we'll be leaving again for another trip almost immediately after that, we will not be decorating our home this December for the first time ever. To tell the truth, after 35 years of carrying the flame for making sure my family has a spectacular Christmas, I'm looking forward to passing on the baton this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you. We also will be going elsewhere for the holiday.

      Delete
  9. You sound really excited. Facing changes always hard. You are doing great. Enjoyed reading the post.

    ReplyDelete