Ever find yourself really wishing you had more time to get ready for Christmas... December just seems to SNEAK up on you? Well, maybe we can make a difference... together!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Some of you have asked....

WHY do you LOVE Christmas so much.......?????  Well, I'm going to share with you... and please don't laugh.... But this is a big part of WHY I JUST LOVE CHRISTMAS...  I haven't ALWAYS LOVED Christmas, in fact..... if you don't mind, I'll just share my story....  and then maybe... just maybe, you might understand my LOVE for Christmas.... and maybe... just maybe.... you might begin to LOVE Christmas too... :)

When I was growing up Christmas always seemed like such a burden to my parents - it wasn't really a happy time -  we didn't do anything you would call "fun" or "traditional"....not that I remember anyway.  The only thing that I do remember that we did a "couple" of times was on Christmas morning, my dad would set up this "race track" he had and we would race the cars ... we (us the girls) would giggle every time the "cars" would crash and flip off the track... I don't think my dad really appreciated that much - he just wanted to "race" not "flip, crash and burn..."  we eventually lost that privilege.  And the only other thing I remember was when we would gather with my cousins (my dad's brother and his family) along with my grandma on Christmas Eve and have dinner (or snacks) and my dad and uncle would pull out their guitars and we would sing Christmas songs.  I LOVED listening to my dad sing.... I think the last time we did that I was probably 9 or 10 .... 

But the Christmas that I really remember.... and one that I have reflected on a lot the past several years happened in 1980 - my junior year of high school.  I remember it was a really hard year, actually had been a few hard years for my parents. My mom asked me and my younger sister, if we would be ok without Christmas gifts this year, as my parents were still paying off medical bills for my little brother who had passed away about 5 years earlier, and funeral expenses etc. My dad owned his own business and things were just really tight. I remember telling my mom that it was ok for me to not have Christmas, but what about my little brothers and sisters... it just didn't feel right.  I worked during summer months to pay for my drill team costs, and during the school year I wasn't able to work because of drill team, so I was trying to find anything I could to help out and make sure that my 5 siblings would have something. I took babysitting jobs as often as I could, and was able to give my parents about $100 to put towards Christmas for my siblings. I was sooooo excited for Christmas this year! We were able to take the money I saved and some money that my mom made doing hair cuts, and my dad had gotten a extra unexpected check from a small side job, so mom and I went shopping. We had fun! (that was really the first and only time I remember going Christmas Shopping with my mom) We weren't able to get a ton, but we were able to get one thing for each of kids that THEY really wanted! This was going to be a great Christmas!

I remember the last day of school before Christmas break, I got called to go to the main office. When I got to the office, I was told that I needed to call home immediately.(This was LONG before the cell phone days.) I called home and my mom answered, she was in tears, I could hardly understand her. She asked if I had drove the truck to school that morning. Well, knowing better, I surely had not! But as I think about it now, I think she would have LOVED for me to say I had! Later on that day, my parents discovered that the truck had been repossessed by the bank, and all the Christmas that we had purchased was in the back of the truck, and there was no way to get it out before Christmas. They (the bank) refused to let us have the stuff in the truck, and without the money to catch up the payment, there was nothing  my parents could do. This Christmas was going to be the worst now! I prayed all day that I would just "FIND" a big envelope filled with money somewhere! But I didn't find one anywhere! 

On Christmas Eve evening, our doorbell rang. I went to answer, and there was no-one there... only a big box sitting on the porch. I helped my dad bring it in. It was filled with all kinds of food. Everything you could imagine! Turkey, ham, potatoes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, chocolates, candy, breads.... more food than we had seen in a long time! What a blessing! I remember my dad telling me that he was going to hide the fruit, nuts and candy and leave it out for Santa, so that he could at least fill the stockings with something.... I remember wanting to know WHO would do this... WHO would just leave a box filled with food on our porch...WHO KNEW the situation we were in and ... WHY would they not want us to know who they were? WHY? I went to bed feeling very blessed. Very grateful, yet I still wanted to know WHO would do this! My siblings were happy, things were looking just normal to them and that was all that mattered.

Christmas morning came, and I was still a little upset just because I was so excited to see my little sisters and brothers faces filled with excitement for the things we had gotten them... but no longer had them.... We waited in the hall, while my dad turned on the tree lights, and usually he would tease "Oh, it looks like Santa missed our house..."  This time, there was no teasing... he said nothing.  We gathered in the front room as usual and my dad brought out his guitar. He played his guitar and there sat 5 kids with nothing more than a "stocking" filled with "fruit, nuts and some candy".... but the little kids didn't seem to notice.  I did. Traditionally,  we would start with the little ones and watch them open their gifts and gradually move up to my parents.....only this year, the tradition was broke.... there were no gifts.. No large wrapped gifts to open anyway... just a couple of small things tucked into our stockings.... Dad offered family prayer and after prayer, there was a knock at the door, and of course my dad thought it was MY friends, coming to "see" what I got for Christmas, so I went to the door, and again, no-one was there.... only a big box that was wrapped and filled with other wrapped boxes. And a big tag on it that said... LOVE SANTA

There were many gifts inside that box - mostly for my younger siblings, but there were a couple for myself... I don't remember what.... I remember being so focused on how happy and excited my little brothers and sisters were! I remember my mom and dad with tears in their eyes, trying to take all of this in. My dad is a very private, proud  man, sometimes too proud too...this was not easy for him. I knew that, but I also knew deep down, he was very humbled, very touched, very grateful... no matter how tough he was trying to be.

You know - I don't really remember what I got that Christmas, I do remember my stocking though! It was filled with nuts, oranges, a candy cane and a pair of earrings! I love stockings! That is my most favorite part of Christmas, and I always save the stocking for the last!

I still want to know WHO did this! I want to THANK THEM for bringing the TRUE meaning of Christmas to our home!

The next couple of years at home returned to the "normal" - not much and nothing super fantastic but I have never forgotten that Christmas.

When I got married - just 2 months before Christmas, Mr. O and I had talked about traditions and what we would do - so we started with "traditions" with just us two - for a while it was easy - but as our family grew and finances became tighter it became harder and I found myself just DREADING Christmas - For several years - I just hated Christmas.... I hated the expense -I hated the "expectations" - I hated the "hoopla" - I just hated everything about it - In fact I no longer even enjoyed decorating for the holidays- ANY holiday - and that was really hard on my older kids because they remembered that I LOVED decorating and would start in the fall and our house was always decorated through Easter - but I just hated it - and was lucky if we got the tree up before the 20th of December.... It became too much work - too much of everything....it just literally wore me down. 

I have tried really hard to get back to the "basics" of Christmas - and not get so wrapped in the "worldly" parts of Christmas.  This past year was a hard one -I always feel that I'm being pulled in SO many directions - an there are SO many people that are "EXPECTING" gift exchanges from us - that it has taken the "FUN" out of giving away..... with the older kids married, and just trying to keep up with their in-laws is for the birds - so we decided that we would do a "homemade" Christmas - this way we can't be PRICED matched! ... if that makes sense... The only problem was - I started it much too late - and I fell back into the "BAH-HUM-BUG" mood.... so! This year (In January in fact) I decided that I was NOT going to do that again - so I've been keeping tabs on a monthly basis - and trying to stay on track - and my goal is to be DONE - completely DONE with Christmas by Nov. 30 - so I can ENJOY CHRISTMAS this year with my family and not be a BAH-HUM-BUG! (thus the purpose of this blog... I hope it has helped me if even a little...) I am determined to ENJOY Christmas again! I want to "FEEL" Christmas this year! From here on out actually!   I want my kids to have good memories of CHRISTMAS not memories of a mom who SLEEPS through Christmas and who is A GRUMP all the time! (just some of the time...)  So.... I am going back to the basics... doing what I LOVE to do for others and my family.

My  favorite part of this has been "A few of my favorite things" basket...   I fill it with the "little" things - their favorites... Like a disney video, Oreos, Chocolate covered raisins, Jelly-Belly's, some sort of "model" car, COKE, SOCKS, a funny saying t-shirt, a Monster Truck magazine, or cake decorating magazine, word search books, pencils, new crayons! (who doesn't love a NEW box of crayons!) ...  etc .... bottled jam, peaches and salsa.... their FAVORITE things!  Things that ONLY MOM KNOWS!  (hee hee hee!) just the little things.(but the $$ adds up very fast too!)   And believe me - if I forget something - I hear about it! LOL! 

I also decided that I needed to get back to the "traditions" of Christmas - that is what my older kids always talked about - the things we did during the month - like our ginger bread house contest, our PJ Party (everyone sleeps on the floor in the family room, we wake up and have scones for breakfast, and we watch Christmas movies ALL DAY LONG! and we have homemade pizza for dinner) we don't answer phones, we don't leave - we just have family pj movie day! We also use to do "A night in Bethlehem" (usually the Sunday before Christmas) where we would watch the Nativity or read it in the scriptures and have a "dinner" of what we think they would have had - (usually all different kinds of cheeses, salami stick, ham, crackers and sparkling cider) - and of course there is the traditional "Night on wheels" where we pile in the car and go look at lights - I make cinnamon rolls and they pick their favorite drink and we just have a good time together while we look at the lights - from the car of course... then there is Temple Square, a play, family shopping night and "build a snowman" day....OH! I'm getting SO excited!  I just want to get BACK TO THE BASICS! To the "simple things" that create the memories!  The traditions!

This year I am just excited to see if I MAKE it to my deadline... because I WANT to enjoy DECEMBER building traditions with my kids - and I think (or hope) by doing a month of "fun" and "enjoyment" that Christmas will become something that lives on every day in our hearts and not just one day out of the year....

That is why I am so excited!!!!:)  I probably DREAM big too - but hey!  Gotta start somewhere right????

it's about the baby steps... getting back to the basics... just enjoying the season and helping to create a "FEELING OF CHRISTMAS" all year long!  That is what I ultimately hope to do! Create the FEELING!  Enjoy the FEELING! and Let the FEELING linger.... all.... year....long!

Boy! I hope it works!

Coming up...
Gifts for the person who has EVERYTHING! and I mean EVERYTHING!
Be sure to check back!

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