It's nearly Christmas! At one time, this would be followed by my jumping up and down and screeching the sentence! These days, it's more of a "let's get it over" kind of reaction. Looking back, I realize that the ONLY years in which I was really truly excited about Christmas were the years before my children were grown when I was either finished with my shopping and/or had enough money/credit to make it commercially festive. This year ain't either one of those, for sure!
When the kids were growing up and even after they became young adults (they are still young adults so I guess I should have said "younger" adults), it was still fun to do the Christmas thing. I loved going shopping with my daughter and cooking for everyone. I especially loved taking them to Midnight Mass and then driving around town looking at the Christmas lights with them. We would watch the Christmas movies and I would buy Christmas albums and we would all pray for snow!!
As payment for my children riding along with me looking at the lights (I enjoyed this far more than they did, it would seem) they could open one present when we got home.
I slowly began to tire of what Christmas had become several years ago. My normally cohesive family began to fuss during this time of year over stupid things like, "don't buy me anymore stupid unicorns - I have never liked unicorns what ever gave you the impression that I did?"(that was me to my sister)
or, "We came to your house last year and even though we understand that YOUR house is large enough for everyone to comfortably fit AND contains enough beds for everyone to sleep in, we want all of you to come to OUR house and squeeze into it and then after driving all that distance and putting up with the tight quarters, sleep on the frigging floor while we sleep comfortably in our own beds AND then drive hours back to your own house, have a dead tired sleep and then go to work the next day!" (that would be my sister to me) That kind of crap. (I will say, in defense of my brother-in-law, that once he married my sister holidays were better. She and my mother chilled out quite a bit on the demands and planning portion of the holiday and our visits to their house became more enjoyable.)
But until that point arrived, we would load up the car, drive the 2 hours to their house, endure the tight quarters and then have to wait until THEY decided to go to bed so WE could get some sleep since they like to stay up until dawn and sleeping on a couch, recliner or floor is bad enough as it is but try to do it while folks are literally feet away from you sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee and being loud!
The entire trip was always peppered with me praying to God that the weather didn't turn bad on us preventing us from making a hasty retreat back to our home as soon as breakfast was finished the following day. Although my mother and sister only lived a couple of hours north of Memphis, the weather was vastly different. They get ice and snow...Memphis hardly ever.
It just became such a tiresome, emotionally draining and dreaded experience that I decided to start chopping the Holiday season down a bit.
I started chopping with Thanksgiving. My family rows started normally as soon as Halloween was over. That was when my mother and sister would begin to plan the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays FOR EVERYONE (without consultations). So, I decided that I was no longer going to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was no longer a celebratory holiday for me. I will not participate. End of chat.
I can show you what my Thanksgivings turned into before I stopped having them. Isn't my daughter just having the most fun?! Too bad I wasn't!
OR how about this one? Her father wasn't quite sure if he liked this tradition or not at this point.
He later decided he didn't.
And this one was taken on the event of my brother-in-laws very first Thanksgiving at his new in-laws house (mine). Unfortunately no one had bothered to warn him of the food fight tradition. (oops) He was adequately surprised (and horrified).
Food fights were all the rage at my house on Thanksgiving for years. It all started when my daughter (first photo) was a vegan. One Thanksgiving when my daughter was perhaps 15 and my son 18, the entire family sat around my dining room table which was completely full of delicious holiday fare that I had worked on for the entire week. I had struggled to make certain that there would be enough vegan variety for my daughter while ensuring everyone else had their personal favorites and was extremely proud of the resulting feast.
As we all began to fill our plates and spirits were high, my daughter filled her fork with mashed potatoes. My son, who was sitting directly across the table from her, leaned towards her and in a very sinister voice went "MOO!" as he popped a large piece of roast into his mouth. My daughter responded by flicking her fork and it's entire contents across the table hitting my son squarely between the eyes. The fight was on!
My mother went into grandma panic mode, yelling for them to immediately stop it! My sister grabbed her son and they went into the kitchen for shelter. (Note: my terrors finally caught up with her when he tried to hide on the deck. She was very soundly splattered with pie). Her boyfriend at that time, sat there with his mouth open in stunned amazement (until he was hit in the forehead with a turkey leg when my daughter ducked behind him to avoid it. At this point, he too, fled into the kitchen), the friends my children had invited over had a look of "Boy are you two going to get it" on their food spattered faces. Me? I filled my plate and began to alternate between ducking and eating the fruit of my labors. I knew they would calm down eventually and I, for one, was too tired to chase them around the house until they did.
This "tradition" continued until about 4 years ago. Let's see that would be 10 years. Eventually, I made a rule for this food fight. It could only happen AFTER we had all eaten and the only food that could be thrown would be cool whip or the equivalent. That seemed to appease the God and Goddess of terror that I had raised.
Then about 4 years ago, my sister passed and we retired the food fight for good.
Christmas was (and is) not the same without her. She truly loved all things from October 31 to January 2. She adored holidays (especially the ones concerning gifts) more than anyone I have ever known. I can not put into words how much I miss her.
It was about that time that my fiances really took a downturn. So, not only was my sister gone but so was my money. What a combo. From that time on, Christmas sucked. And it sucks to this day.
I know Christmas is supposed to be about Jesus and peace and kindness and all that stuff but it's not. It's about decorating your house festively, going to equally festive parties and buying gifts that you wrap and place under your festive tree. I loved Christmas and I miss it so.
To that end, I have completely bought into the commercialism that has become Christmas. I can't adequately express my gratitude that my financial situation happened AFTER my children and nephew were grown. I can't imagine trying to make merry when there's no money for your children.
Now I can get on my soapbox and declare to all that Christmas is too commercial for me to participate and most will believe me.
But deep down, I hide an ugly secret. I'm a fake. I still love Christmas and I still mourn the loss of it.
But, hopefully, I will live to see another one. And maybe it will be better?
But that's just me.