Sunday, December 9, 2007

Decking our Halls

For the first time in my life, I will not be at my parent's house for Christmas. The holidays were divided early on in the pregnancy: JP and I would visit Houston for Thanksgiving and the baptism and his parents would come to Chicago for Landon's first Christmas (we never pretended it was about seeing us- it was all about who got to see the baby when). We spent out first two married Christmases with my parents, so it was JP's family's turn, and we really wanted to avoid packing up the presents and dealing with the inevitable airport delays. JP is an only child, so we knew it would be easy for his family to come to us. I'm excited to be in Chicago over the holidays- it's our last one here and the city is so beautiful right now, but it's going to be a little sad to not be home.

My family has always celebrated Christmas alone with just the five of us. Most of my friends find that strange- their Christmas is all about big family gatherings and all the fun and stress that comes with them, but I cherished our little Christmas. As a kid I loved our special family traditions: dressing up and eating a prime rib Christmas Eve dinner in the dining room, taking turns reading the Bible story, going to the 7:00 church service, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, and then going home to open presents. The present-opening had its traditions too: wearing cozy pj's, listening to our favorite Christmas albums (A Sesame Street Christmas and Raffi's Christmas album were huge), eating popcorn and sugar cookies, sitting on the floor around the tree, and taking turns opening each present. On Christmas morning I always woke up first and had the arduous task of rousing my younger sister (my little brother would help). We'd yell downstairs to our parents that we were ready to see what Santa brought, and then we'd sit at the top of the steps and wait for my mom to get ready and Dad to try (and usually fail) to get the ancient video camera up and working. After waiting for forever we'd finally be allowed to run downstairs to look at our gifts (my mom hates wrapping presents and interestingly, so did Santa, so our Santa presents were just out in the open). Our stockings always contained an orange, chapstick, and a toothbrush, among other little things, and we got one big gift each and a few family ones like movies and games to share. My dad always took us out to the driveway to see if Santa brought him a boat (and when I was really little, I couldn't understand why Santa didn't bring him one. He had been so good!). Christmas wasn't huge, but the Santa gift was always something exciting that we had waited and hoped for. We'd eat a big breakfast (complete with more Christmas cookies) and then play with our toys. As we got older and the toys didn't lend themselves to playing as easily, we'd go see a movie in the afternoon. Almost all of my mom's family lives in areas surrounding Houston so we'd often see some aunts, uncles, cousins, and/or grandparents at some point on the 25th or 26th. It was nice to see family over the holidays while keeping Christmas Eve and morning to ourselves. I think that's what I would like to do as JP and my family grows. My memories of Christmas are so happy and relaxed, and when JP and I are two full-time working parents, that is going to be lovely.

So that was a nice though unintended trip down memory lane... now back to the point: Christmas will be at our apartment this year with JP's parents and grandmother and I realized we didn't own a single Christmas item. Since we're moving to Austin over the summer I didn't want to buy nice stuff that may or may not work in our future home, so I thought we'd go fun and cheap. I bought an adorable 3 foot tree to go on the table, some multi-colored blinking lights (that I would normally hate but Landon is going to love), garland to string over the fireplace to pretend we have a mantle, and mini stockings to hang on the garland. We now have Christmas candy in a Christmas candy dish and little red bows attached to a makeshift Christmas-card basket. There are Christmas songs queued up on iTunes and I am going to try baking my mom's Christmas cookies. It will be different, and it might be a little sad (ok, I'm already tearing up just thinking about not being home, so maybe more than a little), but it's going to be special in its own way. We're together as a family (something that means even more than I imagined) and starting our own traditions. I think growing up is done in pieces, and this is just another one. Hopefully someday Landon will talk about our Christmas traditions with the same love and nostalgia that I feel for mine

12 comments:

  1. thank you for this lovely post. we are also creating our own traditions as our family grows. this is our last christmas sans baby, and there is so much joy and just a bit of wistfulness as we celebrate.

    i love your family's tradition.

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  2. That is a beautiful post! That's something I'm really looking forward to as well: starting new traditions with my new family. :)

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  3. Reading your post, I am sooooo glad my in-laws are in another country so we don't have to make these decisions. We moved a lot as a child so my only constant was my parents. When they left DC to move back to my mothers' hometown, it took Chapin and I several weeks to decide we couldn't live far away from them. Then it took only four more weeks to put our house on the market, give notice, fly to mom's hometown to get a job and a new house, fly back, self-pack into U-Pack shipping crates, close on our DC house and drive to New Town. Phew! Actually, I think we spent Memorial Day at my parent's house in Georgetown and were at their new house in New Town about a week before Labor Day! ;)

    My point is that I feel you. And I think it's great that you'll be making new traditions for Landon. :)

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  4. Your Christmas is going to be lovely! It echoes the small, relaxed ones you remember at home, and you're right, your own traditions will build with time. :) LOVE the "boat" memory. Hee hee.

    I still get kinda sad every time I'm not at "home" - my parents' house - for Christmas.

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  5. What a wonderfully sweet post. It made me sniffle a little. First Christmasses are really special. Yours sounds like it will be wonderful!

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  6. formerlawstudentcurrentmother12/10/07, 8:15 AM

    What a sweet post. It will be a little tearful, I bet, but at least your first non-"home" Christmas is at your own apartment, and not at your in-laws (lovely though they may be). You will have fun starting new traditions and I can just imagine how happy you and your husband will be to be alone as a family of three for at least part of the holiday season.

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  7. I completely understand the sadness of missing out on the holiday traditions with your family. We missed Thanksgiving with our families completely this year and I am doing Christmas early with my mom and late with my Dad so we can spend Christmas Eve and Day with my husband's family. It makes me sad but I also realize that we are our own little family now and as long as me, my husband and Bear are together that nothing else matters. My family is around all year long whenever I want to see them. I am really excited about helping Bear open his own gifts this year. I realize the holidays will be different from now on with a baby but they are only going to get better. I can't wait to really play Santa the next few years and start our own Christmas traditions. Hopefully someday it will be my kids tearing up when they think about the family Christmas' we spent together and all the traditions we started.

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  8. We celebrated Christmas Eve and Day very much how your family did when I was growing up. And this will be the first year that my husband and I will not be travelling for Christmas, and thus, the first Christmas I have ever spent away from my parent's house. And you're right on- it's sad! But at the same time, I'm all about starting my own traditions, and I've enjoyed decorating our house this year.

    BTW, I'm so envious of your upcoming move to Austin! I was born and raised there, and moved away to NC about 2 years ago, to follow my husband- I still miss it like crazy!

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  9. Wow - your childhood Christmas traditions are very similar to mine. It is sad to grow up, sometimes, but we can't stop time, can we?! Enjoy your holidays and this new beginning.

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  10. I understand the mourning of Christmas traditions of old, but you will find the new ones you start with your own family to be just as precious. Keep the cookies and keep the Bible reading, those are key, everything else will fall into place wherever you live, and with whoever is there.
    -Tamara Lexow

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  11. "I think growing up is done in pieces, and this is just another one. Hopefully someday Landon will talk about our Christmas traditions with the same love and nostalgia that I feel for mine."

    I love this...this is exactly how I feel. We spent Thanksgiving with my husband's family and it was my first big holiday to be away from my family...It was so, so hard and the hardest part for me was probably knowing that it was hard for my family with me not being there...

    ...but I love the idea of starting our own traditions. It really feels like we're becoming a family of two instead of being so attached to our "other" families.

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  12. Thank you very much!!! ohhh it's just what i wanted!!!

    Merbau Decking

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