For the first time in five years – and only the second time in my life – I will not spend Christmas with my parents this year.
I will not travel the three hours north to their house. I will not spend a pajama-clad morning tearing open gifts or eagerly watching their faces as the secrets I’ve kept for weeks are revealed. I will not spent the afternoon catching up with extended family over a glass of wine and way too much food.
Deciding to stay home this year was tough. Just thinking about it still breaks my heart a little. I’m a firm believer that Christmas is to be spent with family and lots of it. Lots of voices and laughing and hugs. Which, of course, always comes with lots of bickering and drama and frustration. But that’s all part of the deal. Take the good with the bad.
Usually I happily take the good with the bad, all to make Christmas feel big. But, for a whole list of reasons, this Christmas will be small. Quiet. Me, M, and our littles.
Coincidentally, this is also the Christmas when our girl is really starting to get it. She doesn’t remember last Christmas but, thanks to school, she’s been talking about Santa and elves and the North Pole all week. She has somehow picked up that Christmas means gifts for her and I’m doing fast work now to teach her that it also means other things. Giving to others, including those less fortunate. Magic. Traditions.
This is the first year that I really feel the pressure to create those lasting holiday traditions. To really teach her about the season, the meaning behind it. To really solidify that Christmas is not about getting presents. That it is so much more.
So for weeks, I’ve been frantically searching about for traditions. Dreaming about the holiday feelings I want to create for my children. Striving to create a season that is joyous and festive and magical, but also distinctly ‘us.’ And being careful to not overdo it (which I am so prone to do).
So far, we’ve brought the advent calendar down from the attic and I have plans as to what I will hide in each box on each day. Charlie, our shelf elf, is hiding in my closet, waiting to make his December 1st debut. I have plans for my girl and I to bake cookies and then take them around to our neighbors. I’m dreaming up an ornament-making party for her and her friends. I’ve talked with her about how we’ll buy a toy for kids who have less than we do. We’ve already returned to our holiday playlist on Pandora to create the soundtrack of the season.
And yet, I’m still feeling a little lost when it comes to the actual day. Christmas Eve. Christmas day. What on earth will we do?
Do you have a few favorite holiday traditions? Things you do every year on Christmas Eve or on the big day itself? Please do share.
I’ll compile a big list of all of the ideas I get and share here. And I’ll also, of course, document well the traditions that we incorporate into our holidays this year.