Silver bells are ringing!

Okay, the Salvation Army with the kettles and the bells are out in front of the grocery store near us, and probably in the malls too, so Christmas must be bearing down upon us.  I have to admit I’m a Christmas junkie.  Left to myself — well, it’s probably just as well I’m not left to myself.  Last year Geoff said firmly that I went too far on Christmas decorations around the house.   Looks like Macy’s on Parade Day, he said, and I promised to cut it back this year.  Some.  Told the children (okay, adult children) that I wouldn’t be putting everything out, and they immediately demanded that I tell them what I was leaving out and what I was doing with it.  Told them I hadn’t decided yet, but would probably take the discards to the Salvation Army.

Cries of anguish and despair.  No, nothing, NOTHING can be thrown out.  Everything is to be preserved lovingly, so that these children (adult) can sort through and argue about who gets what.  I guess that’s tolerable, as long as they do it in the spring or summer.  I am not going to have our days together at Christmas descend into noisy debates along the line of “if Martha got the [fill in decoration of your choice], then I get [fill in another decoration of your choice].  Martha’s getting the one that’s always been my favorite” or “James, you’ve got three already and you don’t have an apartment yet.”  Merry merry Christmas to you too!

The basic problem of course is, as it always has been, the prickly subject of Tradition.  Are all children obsessive about tradition, or is this a problem for my family alone?  Anything that has happened before on any Christmas is subject to becoming fossilized as Tradition — the way we do things.  Anything that has happened twice is already Tradition.  We ALWAYS cut down our own tree (unless there’s an acceptable recently cut tree in the tree farm barn).  We ALWAYS have lamb chops for dinner Christmas Eve.  We ALWAYS have to have a small glass of unimproved egg nog and a piece of toast Christmas morning before going to the tree and opening presents — this one amuses me greatly, since at least 2 of the 4 can’t stand egg nog and drink it making most peculiar faces, but drink it they do.  Their father is ALWAYS the one to distribute presents, and all of us ALWAYS dutifully stop admiring our own treasures while a present is being unwrapped so it can be appreciated properly.  And on and on and on.

The really odd thing is that as much as I shake my head over all the instant Traditions, I kind of like having Christmas wrapped around us like a warm familiar blanket.  So maybe it’s my fault.  How about all of you?  Do you like Christmases that are like all the previous ones, or are you more adventurous?  More to the point, I guess, what kind of Christmas do your children insist on having?

Whatever it is, we’re on the downward slope now!

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7 Responses

  1. Oh, wow…are you sure you aren’t part of MY family?

    Yeah, we’ve been round and round over “breaking tradition.” Finally, after toting two kids to my Mom’s house (45 minutes away) on Christmas Eve and then again Christmas morning (with everyone calling and demanding I hurry up), I finally put my foot down. It caused a little bit of hurt feelings, but now we all have a really fun and more relaxed Christmas.

    We have a FUN Christmas Eve Party at my house with martinis and Karaoke – my borther brings his Willie Nelson wig for “Too All the Girls I’ve loved Before”). We decide yearly on who’s house we’re going to for Christmas dinner – mine or my brother’s. My parents get a hotel room and love hitting the casino in between.

    As I say, sometimes tradtions have to change to make us happy. I like our new tradition.

  2. We always have all the aunts and uncles and cousins on my mom’s side over for Christmas Eve. Lord preserve us if my mother doesn’t make cheese soup and ‘slushes’ (fruit juice plus booze, frozen to slush, sccoped into a glass and topped with seven up.) My sister always brings divinity because she’s the only one in the family who can make it turn out right, and a platter of cold shrimp because she lives next door to Costco. There are twice as many people as there are chairs in my mom’s house and the noise level is excruciating.

    In other words, perfect.

  3. For dividing out the decorations this is what you do: Draw straws or numbers or whatever to decide the order (don’t do oldest to youngest, that sucks). After that, whoever gets to go first picks just ONE item. And none of that, well that candle holder has always hung with this mantal swag, so they go together–NO! Make them pick just ONE thing unless you predecide grouping of things.

    Can you tell I’ve done this a number of times? Then go down the line of who is next and just go round and round until all the stuff is gone. If there’s not enough things for each kid to get the same amount of things, then that’s just tough. You didn’t make the decisions and they drew their own order. 🙂

  4. Every year since my husband and I were married nineteen years ago, we have spent Christmas Eve with his family. (It’s his dad’s birthday too.) And then we travel to my parents on Christmas day and meet up with my brother and his family. It’s getting a bit harder to get everyone in one place at the same time since the family keeps getting bigger on both sides. But our kids keep us on our toes. No breaking tradition here. Change is bad. Very, very bad. LOL

    Once together, it’s pretty much complete chaos till the end! Gotta love it! 🙂

  5. Traditions are important to us, but sometimes we have to adapt when certain family members are unable to join us for the holidays.

  6. Liz, I guess over the years we just get used to it! What I try to tell myself is that it’s the happy memories that make everybody want to reproduce what went before. I sure hope that’s it!

    KariLynn, I think I want to belong to YOUR family!

    Keri, what sensible suggestions. I shall present them to my offspring. As it happens, my two sisters and I used exactly that method dividing up what my mother had left. Basically, the three of us took whatever we particularly wanted (or had given Mother). Anything that more than one of us wanted went into the Treasure Pile, and then we divided that exactly as you suggested, starting with the eldest, which pleased me because I’m the eldest! The system worked magnificently. I’ve always wondered if it would work as well had daughters-in-law been involved! It had never occurred to me to use exactly the same system on the ornaments, but that’s what I’ll do.

    Oh, Melissa, do I relate to the last sentence! Once together, ours is complete chaos, too. The best part is that our son has taken over cooking the standing rib roast, which has been our Christmas dinner fare for years because it doesn’t require anything beyond sticking it in the oven, and if we have baked potatoes with it, I don’t have to fuss about anything until just before we eat, and so can spend my Christmas Day in the living room with everyone else, admiring the new treasures.

    Jane, we’ve been lucky so far. Given that all our children are adult now, the day is inevitably going to come when somebody can’t come home for Christmas, and then, obviously, we’re going to have to adapt. And great will be the moaning and carrying on . . .

  7. Our family always does the same thing every year, but I think it’s going to be different this time. I will be spending Christmas with them, my future hubby, and my friends might do something a little different for their Christmas parties. The other night, one of my girlfriends and I made stockings for us and our men. That was something different. We wrote on our boyfriends’ stockings “The Grinch” and wrote on ours “Christmas Queen”. Haha!

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