This is my first christmas without my mom, so its going to be difficult for me to celebrateGerardo
The holidays have changed a lot as I got older. Now that the grandparents have passed & my Mom as well, and there are no young children in the family, Christmas has lost its glitter for sure. And none of us are religious so there's that.So we put much more emphasis on Thanksgiving instead. I try to duplicate all the traditional family recipes and really do it up with the fresh flowers, crystal, silver and china. It's a relaxing yet elegant day with the focus on food and family without all the Christmas pressure and expectations.I have adopted one new Christmas tradition though where I give one really nice gift to someone who has no reason to expect a gift from me. Not to a stranger, but an acquaintance whom I have (over)heard express interest in something. I look forward to giving that one gift more than anything else.
For years and years my family kind of just hung out on Christmas Day. We'd open gifts in the morning, my mom would make a really nice Thanksgiving-like lunch/dinner and perhaps we'd go to a movie. Because my extended family on both sides is so large, we'd usually get together with them before Christmas or even a day or two afterwards.A few years ago, though, my parents built a brand new really sweet house and the floorplan is ideal for guests and gatherings, so the year they moved in, we had some family over and friends of theirs and mine and eventually it became a tradition that we basically were "open" that day and it's become understood amongst our friends and family that anybody is welcome on Christmas day. Dinner isn't necessarily at a specific time, but most everybody brings something or, more importantly, someone with them. The atmosphere is great because of the unique mix of people. All three fireplaces are going and there's plenty of food. In the walkout basement, there's football on and we have a pool table and kitchen down there and on the main level the food is all laid out in the kitchen and the dining room is big enough to seat a couple dozen people. My parents are VERY cool with my sexuality, so all my gay friends show up and all my parents' church friends and business friends and old family friends and some select neighbors show up. I work in tv news and a lot of my co-workers are from different cities and states and are new to where we live in Indianapolis, so some of them come over and it's all just very informal and cozy and everybody always looks forward to it, months in advance. Most of the time they arrive by noon and stay until later that night and if anybody has drank too much or has a particularly long drive home, they are welcome to spend the night and it's just kind of understood that everybody help out when it comes to preparing the food and cleaning up afterwards.I am so blessed to have this every year and throughout the rest of the year, we usually do the same thing on Easter and Thanksgiving and we also do this on a much smaller scale every Sunday for lunch. So, there is how my family celebrates the holidays. It's not about the gifts, it's about the people in our lives. Those relationships are the real gifts and we appreciate them coming over as much as they seem to appreciate being invited. I wouldn't trade that tradition for ANYTHING.
This is my second year celebrating Christmas without my mother who passed Nov. 12, 2011. We were very, extremely, close and it's been a difficult road for me. But, let me address your question regarding how I celebrate the holiday now in comparison to 5 or 10 years ago. Basically, my thoughts have been the same for approx. 30 or so years. Removing the "real" reason for the season, for explanation sake, I offer the following. I see Christmas and New Years as a time for children and those who are in love. If ever I were in a relationship during the Christmas holiday I would go all out decorating and enjoy shopping and wrapping gifts. When I am single I do not put up decorations and shopping becomes a chore instead of an adventure. I have been this way ever since I moved out of my parents home when I was 25 yrs old and bought my first house. Because it was my first house I did decorate a little because I purchased it in the month of September. After that initial year I did not decorate unless I was in a relationship. Unfortunately, that meant more years went by without decorations than years with decorations. When I lived with my mother and was her caretaker I would decorate because it was her favorite holiday and she loved the decorations. I did it purely for her. Now that she's deceased I decorate as best as I can, getting through or working through the sadness and tears. I decorate now not because I am in a relationship, but in honor of and in memory of my mother. I do it for her and the tears still roll down my face. I do as much as I can and I do not get upset with myself if I cannot get all of the decorations up. This year I was unable to put all of the decorations out because it was just too much for me and more than I could handle alone. Yet, I know my mother is smiling down upon me and I know she understands and is happy for what I was able to accomplish.
The holiday season, especially Christmas, is difficult for me because my mother passed Nov. 12, 2011 and we were extremely close. It is because of her passing that I handle Christmas decorations differently than I used too. Ever since I moved out of my parents home, around age 25, I have not decorated my home unless I was in a committed relationship. Putting aside the "real" reason for the season, I believe Christmas is for children and those in love. Therefore, whenever I was single, which has been most of my life, decorations did not get put up. The couple times that I was In a relationship during Christmas time I would go all out decorating our home and enjoy shopping and really enjoying the full spirit of Christmas. But only if and when I was in a relationship. And yes, being a pastor I understand the "real" reason for the season and I upheld those thoughts and theological/spiritual traditions that we learn and teach about The Christ Child. My joy was spiritual and that never wavered. I just did not decorate if I were single. I was the sole caretaker for my mother. Because Christmas was one of her favorite holidays and she thoroughly enjoyed Christmas decorations I would always put up every decoration we had for my mother's pleasure. Now, in her death, I put up what I am able too in memory and honor of my mother. This year I was not able to put up everything due to sadness, but, I did as much as I could being alone, by myself. I believe that my mother understands and is smiling upon me, happy that I got some decorations up and that's all that matters to me. I will continue to put up decorations in her memory and honor and therefore leave my past feelings of only putting them up when in a relationship alone. This is a new day, a new dawning and a new personal tradition has been established for me.
24th - Invite friends over for cocktails and a relaxing evening. It started in my early 30s because we had several friends who were illegal and could not go home for the holidays.25th - Day spent up at Mom & Dad's26th - Boxing Day Dinner party hosted by my English friend for several years.
My tradition of the last 15 years or so continues... I make my own baked caramel corn to give as small gifts. It isn't much, but I enjoy doing it.
This is my first Christmas without my mom she passed away in April. My mom and I would always argue about how long to cook a turkey. I always said it shouldn't take 6 hrs she was always putting the bird in the oven at a low temp and cooking it all day! i will miss my yearly talk about this subject.
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