"Change, when it comes, cracks everything open."
Dorothy Allen

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holidays and Happiness

The holidays are well and truly upon us.

With everything that is going on, I have made a very conscious decision to try and be happy during this season.  I am trying to focus on what is important; family, friends, peace, happiness.  Some days, I have to remind myself constantly.  Some days, it just comes and stays.  Those are the really good days.

I have been thinking and reassessing my priorities.  And I am trying to reflect a lot of what I am feeling in my seasonal celebrations.  I am handmaking some of my gifts this year, for those that would be ok with that.  I know not everyone is.  Some people are cool with the slightly imperfect products of my imaginings, other people prefer gift cards.  :) To each his own.  I am trying to respect that.

I have been searching for things to make, and especially things that the kids can help me make.  I have found a few things, and I am hoping that over the coming year, I can build on my skills.  Obviously, because some of the recipients are readers of this blog, I can't talk about specifics, but I promise to post pictures and details after Christmas.

I am also not stressing myself out about gifts.  Money is tight this year, no question.  Normally, I would be very stressed- how do I get tons of gifts for the kids and for Geoff and everyone else.  But this year, I am being realistic.  The kids are getting a couple of gifts each.  That's it.  I know what my kids like, and I am being honest about the fact that buying, just for the sake of buying does no one any favours.  I get grumpy, when all those fantastic Christmas gifts are January's clutter.  We have been pretty good about keeping the kids' rooms clean and reducing the clutter, and I want that to continue. 
I also want to try and put the brakes on any sense of crazy entitlement I might be feeding into my kids.  I don't want them to think that Christmas equals a gift free-for-all.  I want them to know that a Christmas gift is a special, almost magical thing.  It is about wanting that one thing, that ONE thing, that you think about and dream about.  That you care enough about that you write a letter to Santa.  That you are dying to snoop for.  That when you open that gift, Christmas morning, you KNOW that Santa is real.  That he heard you, that he made this gift just for you.   That when you are 10, 20, 30 years old, you remember what it felt like to open that present. 

That's what I want for my kids.  And I don't think I will get that by buying them half a catalogue.  I will try this way, and see.  Wish me luck.

Of course, we are missing Kit.  All the time.  His birthday is this week, and then there is Christmas.  I think Geoff is focusing on the kids and being a dad, to take his mind and focus off his own dad.  We have talked about it, and I want to honour Kit by including anything and everything that Geoff remembers as part of his holidays as a kid.  As Geoff recalls different things, we will work them in, and do what we can.  Things like National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Things like just talking about him, and talking to the kids about him.  Things like Geoff remembering his own Christmases.  And I think (but might be wrong) that Geoff is becoming (or forcing himself to become) more interested and invested into the traditions of our family.  I think his intent is to give his children that living legacy and the memories that they will carry with them into the future.  He wants them to be able to hear or see or smell something, that will instantly link them back to him and their own Christmases with him.  And when they grow and move into their own futures, those traditions will move on with them, carrying that link to him with them forever. 
So basically, I think Geoff is discovering the importance of traditions and rituals. He is understanding, maybe just a little, why they are so important to me.

Speaking of traditions, I may have established a new one with my friends.  Every year, we get together for a lunch and a yankee swap gift exchange.  This year, we made the addition of seeing a Christmas movie too, to help get us in the holiday spirit.  Not just any movie- White Christmas.
Now, White Christmas isn't my absolute favorite classic Christmas movie (that's "It's a Wonderful Life") but it definitely top 4.  And the theatre in NF was playing it last Sunday.
Michelle, Teresa, Dawn and I all went, with plans for lunch and prezzies afterwards.  Of course we had invited everyone, but for various reasons, we were the only 4 that could make it. 
We all got popcorn and snacks and settled in.  Michelle and Teresa had never seen it, so I was nervous that they would hate it.  But they didn't.  By the end of the movie, they both wanted to sing along (someone in the theatre was singing.  Normally that would irritate me, but this time, it was lovely).  Dawn and I both cried when they sang to the General.  I always do.
It was so wonderful, and Christmassy.  It made me happy and filled a little space in me.  I can't wait to do it again next year. 

Oh, and btw, the theatre is playing "To Kill a Mockingbird" in February.  Hope you can be there.

I know alot of you will roll your eyes at this next part, but I am mentioning it anyway.  Judge me all you like.  I don't mind.  :)
I have been teaching and talking to the kids about the Christmas Story.  Yes, the Jesus one.  I know, I know.

But I feel like it is important.  Like I said earlier, I want to instill a meaning to Christmas, over and above the fact that you get presents. 
I have a Fisher Price Nativity set that my mom bought the kids a couple of years ago.  Sebastian loved playing with it for years and now Sawyer does too.  So, we are talking about Mary, Joseph (or as Sawyer calls him Joho, or Josie) and baby Jesus.  We talk about how Jesus was born in a barn (as Geoff said, he sometimes believes that Sawyer was too).  We talk about the wise men, and how they brought presents (not toys!) to the baby Jesus.  That Jesus was special, and everyone wanted to know him and be near him.  How angels came and talked to sheppards to tell them that Jesus was born. 
We watched a cartoon about the Christmas Story.  I wish, wish, wish I had recorded or at least written down the questions that Sawyer had for me.  They were hilarious.  I laughed pretty much constantly.  But at the same time, I was so proud of her, for taking the story seriously enough that she wanted to know more.  She wanted to know why King Herrod didn't like the baby.  Why was King Herrod mean.  What was wrong with Mary's tummy (the baby was inside).  She wanted to know more about the star.  She was thrilled to see the angel, except that she thought it was a mermaid.  She was very sure that the donkey that carried Mary into Bethlehem was named Cheech.  And on and on it went. 
But Geoff won't talk about this stuff with me.  Sebastian was never really interested.  It was very fun to talk to Sawyer and see her excitement.  I know that to her, it's just a story.  I am thinking about taking her and Sebastian to the Christmas Eve candlelight service.  I used to love going, and I think that they might like it too. 

So, as we move into this last week before Christmas, I am moving through my preparations.  I am still working and work is very trying and exhausting.  I hate my boss (and I don't use that word lightly) so I struggle make my work day end when I leave work.  I have reduced my OT, since I don't really take home any extra money if I work over a certain amount (basically anything over 15 hours doesn't make a significant impact on my pay cheque) so I limit it to that amount. 
I have let work ruin times for me, times that should have been special and wonderful.  It took me a while, but I came to realize exactly that- I LET it ruin it.  So, I have decided not to let that happen.  Work is work.  Home is home.  Home is where I want to be.  Home is where I belong. 

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "next up, Christmas!"

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