It's that time of year again. Christmas. I've seen it coming for a couple of months thanks to advertisers. For many years, Christmas has become less and less of a favorite holiday of mine. Crisis after crisis during the holidays ruined the holidays for me several years back and the overdone consumerism of our society beat into the ground what little glimmer of joy I still retained about this time of year. Usually I just try to smile and go through the motions to try to make the people around me feel more comfortable.
This year I surprised myself by actually being in the mood to sing a few Christmas songs just for the fun of it. Maybe it has been a long enough time since I was last roped in to perform at a Christmas musical that I actually cared about the music again.
I've been in the mood to bake treats (not much time for it mind you). That has always been a favorite part of the holidays for me. Food employs our senses and brings back memories of former times. Each family has some special food they like to celebrate with and many are saved to be used only on special days. I don't have many specially reserved foods like this, but just the fun of having special treats brings happy memories back to me.
The presents have been a bit of a love/hate thing for me. I like getting presents just as much as the next person. I like giving a present to someone else with their happy surprise being the only reward. I hate gifts prompted by obligation, yet I realize that their are good reasons for such gift giving.
My family is highly non-conformist when it comes to Santa. "We don't do Santa." Those simple words have stopped some conversations in their tracks. I don't try to ban Santa from our home. I don't try to hide the story of Santa from my children. I just treat Santa as a story, just like the other stories we read in books. I would prefer that my children learn the story of the birth of Jesus as "the" Christmas story. I would prefer that my children learn the story of Saint Nicholas (the real person) as an example of a faithful christian who put his faith into practice by being generous to those in need. The modern day Santa is a fairytale that can be used to teach generosity, but is just as likely to teach lessons you don't want your kids to learn as anything else.
Tim and I don't really have many Christmas traditions. We usually buy each other gifts without keeping them secret, because we can't stand to keep such happy things a secret from each other. We spend Christmas with one side of the family and Thanksgiving with the other (switching back and forth to give equal time). We like food and family to be part of the holidays with lots of visiting time. We frame little pictures of the kids to put on our Christmas tree every year to accompany our ornaments. We open presents Christmas Eve, or Christmas day, or a week later if that is when the gathering happens.
This year the Power family Christmas has been moved from it's traditional location to be shared by us and Rick and Wendy. The family was good enough to not insist we travel with wee little ones. As a result our two households are hosting. Now neither one of us has to handle the whole of Christmas, but it dawned on me that my preferred traditions may not always mesh with the preferred traditions of others. So with that in mind... I hope my family will be flexible this year. I'm not providing a fairytale Christmas, but hopefully it can be a fun one even so. For those of you non-family readers, I would like to remind you that Christmas is not always a happy time of year for everyone. Please handle people with care.