Here we are right smack in the middle of the in-between week with the excitement of Christmas a few days ago and the New Year just a few days off. These days pull us back and forth between leaving the decorations up just a bit longer or setting everything back to its usual place. Between enjoying just a few more Holiday delicacies until the new year, or getting a jump on those health goals before the big calendar flip. Somewhere over the years, it has become the week of regrouping around our house. Not a vigilant purging, get-after-it sort of pace, but more of a let’s sleep in a bit then tackle chunks of those things that have been left undone for far too long. All this being mingled with impromptu movie nights and coffee shake runs simply because we can. Christmas seems to remind us of the value of these slower moments together before the routine is set in motion again soon enough. This year that includes a bit of thinking on what I would call “Christmas Hopes Future”. A time to reflect on traditions to hold too, others to let go of and new ones that may need to be added to our collection. Today those thoughts look a bit like this …
Traditions we’ll hold to …
This tired old tree. It’s huge, y’all! So huge that, in an effort to slim her down a bit and gain a foot or two of floor space, we skipped adding the bottom layer this year. She has served us well, and some years has held an ornament on each of her 1000 points.
But really, it’s not so much the tree as it is the theme that we always come back to. There was a year or two way back when that we considered doing more of a themed tree. It didn’t work. We’re pretty sure it never will. Each ornament we pull out of its box holds some sort of story. And yes, I feel the need to tell each story, pretty much every year. My poor family. It’s become such a driving force in our Christmas decor that if there isn’t much of a story about an ornament it doesn’t seem to make the cut after a year or two.
I suppose our tree looks a bit haphazard, but it’s our story. Our childhoods, our marriage, our own children, our adventures. And let’s face it, our story has felt a bit haphazard at times, so it suits us just fine.
Expectations we’ll let go …
Christmas dinner. Not that we won’t have one, mind you – that’s definitely not how we roll. Like ever. But rather the tradition of the exact same menu every year.
This year with just the four of us, we decided to make Christmas dinner a collection of everyone’s favorites. So instead of our usual menu, it looked more like – spiral cut honey glazed ham for the hubby, Buffalo chicken and rice for the college girl and a pan of Grandma’s Mac n Cheese for the tall girl. Yep, it’s a menu guaranteed to
never grace the pages of Southern Living. But the looks on their faces when I shared the menu were priceless. It’s like they saw that their favorites were more important than my mom expectation. How quickly I can value tradition over their opinions in areas that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. We’re just gonna work on letting that go a bit around here, even though it would mortify my middle school Home Ec. teacher.
Simpler gift giving. With two in college, one about to get married, and the last heading to college in another year and a half, there’s a need for creative financing for all of us. All the kids work hard while in school to help supplement the portion that we can pay for college. So the past few years, we’ve started drawing names amongst the 7, almost 8, of us and that has worked well. It has called for more intentional listening and studying of one person to come up with the gift that carries meaning well beyond it’s purchase price. For me, it saves a lot of the Mama frenzy of making sure I’ve spent the same amount on everyone, and picked up that one gift I forgot, and cooked dinner regularly while still wrapping everything and … it just gets a bit exhausting.
This year, we added that everyone spends about $5 on each other’s stocking. It’s funny how the kids seem to anticipate the stockings even more than their “big gifts”. This weekend the four who spent the holiday in Florida will be home and we’ll enjoy some sugar cookies and egg nog and bust out those stockings. We’re kind of excited about it!
Christmas hopes future …
Sharing the season. I suppose the greatest hope is that we will find new ways to share the gift of Christ with others. Whether that’s buying a goat for a family overseas, or inviting others into our home on a more regular basis throughout the year. My hope is that we would love on others all year long in such a way that sharing our time and gifts at Christmas is just an overflow of relationship instead of a one-time deal.
We’ll continue to decorate with only those parts of our story that make us smile – twinkle lights, trees and funky little chipped ornaments glued together years ago by pudgy little fingers.
Our menu will be whatever we decide it should be, based on what everyone wants. That may not include anything green, and way fewer whole foods than I would prefer, but it’s just one day. And if it finishes up with some Chinese take-out and a movie, then all the better.
How about you? What are your favorite traditions? What will you hold onto this next Christmas? What will you let go of? What’s your hope for Christmas future?