I have been struggling with the Christmas season for years now. I get so excited, love to decorate and make things but then as the 25th approaches I loose steam and get, well, ugly. It's not the hustle and bustle.. or the falafalalallaaa.. for so long now I associated my emotional shift with seasonal depression perhaps or the weather. But that's not it. It has to do with family, I think.
My memories of past Christmas's are nonexistant. I have none, no sweet thoughts, no emotionally charged gifts or overall feeling. Most of them were filled with nice gifts, some family (ranging in numbers from just my parents to 20+) but I can't remember them. Nothing. I mentioned it to my mom this evening and she was able to rattle them off.. where in the world we were, (Italy, Germany, Austria..) who was there that particular year and some of the events. I, on the other hand, have got nothin', so to speak.
She apologized for not making them more memorable, but I'm not sure if that's it either. There has just been something missing, a gap. The only memory of Christmas I have during my high school years is of the year my brother went through a nasty divorce and on his way to my mother's Christmas morning, he hit and killed a puppy. Not exactly Christmas cheer.
My memory has never been very good, as I can't remember many of my birthdays either. What I am trying to get at is I don't want Christmas to be forgotten by my children as quickly as I have forgotten them. I want and they need, for Christmas to have more meaning. More purpose than just to get more stuff.
I have yet to step into a store this year (for the purpose of buying gifts). Gifts were made or bought, but I did it all from this very seat, over the internet. The spending was cut way back too.. not out of necessity, but out of disgust. We have enough. Enough clothes, enough toys, enough puzzles, enough food, enough stuff. Enough is enough.
It's not about the stuff anyway. If it was I'd remember what I was given or blessed with as a child (or atleast a couple of gifts right?) I do recall a gold necklace with solid gold pendant that my father gave me. But it is long gone, and although I know where it is, I know I'll never see it again. I was so sad, and my father was sad/disappointed, when I 'lost' it.
For years I have been going through the motions and so very happy once it all ends and I can take down all the 'stuff'. I think, perhaps, it is a lack of tradition. I don't think we had any family traditions, infact now that I think about I know we didn't. Atleast none once I was old enough to recall them. Ones that separated us from any other churchless family. No special songs, carols, movies, drives or games. Nothing significant and unique to us, some thing or event to bind us together as a whole through the years. Those novelties to look forward to from year to year.. or to remember as the years pass us by. No one special meal or treat, or routine such as hunting for a tree together or Christmas Mass to attend. Nothing that floated with us from year to year. And still there are none.
So, now for traditions.. perhaps. But what makes memories memorable? Last year I spent days making cinnamon ornaments and on Christmas eve the kids and I drove around and delivered them to our friends and family. I think we need to do this again. And again. and again. It will be the first annual tradition I start with my children.
Thank you for 'listening'. As I typed this out, it helped. Helped me organize my thoughts and feelings. It isn't about the stuff. The stuff changes from year to year. It is about the things that don't change.. the joys of giving, of everyone playing Santa, of finding our 'us' among the stuff. I have a new family now and children who are counting on me to give them Christmas's they won't ever forget. I don't care if they forget the stuff.. I just don't want them to forget the 'us', like I so quickly forgot my childhood...
Make it memorable..