Christmas means many things to many different people. Some look forward to family, some look forward to parties, some look forward to gifts, and some (I’m sure) just look forward to the alcohol (cuz why not?). Growing up, I believed Christmas was about starting the new year humbled and appreciating family. Except that every year left me unsatisfied. Not this year, though. We’re starting our own family traditions and we’re starting from scratch.
The holidays aren’t necessarily my favorite time of year. I’ve often sifted through all my theories as to why this could be, and I think every year I come up with a different reason. I can’t always pinpoint why I don’t jump out of my boots with excitement, except I can safely say I think it’s because my expectations are too high.
See, ever since I was little I was always observing what I perceived the holidays are supposed to look like. We came from a poor family where gifts from Santa were, in reality, gifts from the loving people at church who donated to the single mom with three kids. Also, lay-a-way was a must. And when I was little I never let our lack of money tarnish my own emotions (that didn’t happen till I was older). I guess I wasn’t very resentful during those times because the holidays were fun despite being poor. I never really remember a Christmas when I was left disappointed in it.
(Except for that year I asked for a My Size Barbie all damn year long and NEVER got it. I still remember that….)
Christmas is a time of pure nostalgia. To me, the holidays were about discovering how in love you are with life and with your family. It’s about entering into the season the same you, but then exiting as a newly rejuvenated, humbled human being who remembers what the holidays are for, whatever that could be.
Sadly, I remember leaving most of my past holiday seasons disappointed. I don’t know if it was the perpetual family turmoil, but either way, I felt down and so I eventually just stopped looking forward to the holidays altogether. Of course, I still loved Christmas music and all the lights, and all the Christmas movies I could stand, but these are the things I enjoyed in solitude, privately.
Starting My Own Family Gave Me A New Perspective
This year has started a new tradition, though. And I have to admit, I am so happy about it. I feel very resolute in what the holidays will mean to me moving forward. This year, my fiance and I had a baby. This year, we began trying to get out of debt and trying to save money by being more frugal. We’re also taking a stand against the abundance of unnecessary toys and junk that our society deems are essential for our children. We’re trying to enjoy each other, our baby and the home we’re slowly building together over material things. And it seems to be working.
Rather than buying a tree, we went in our backyard and cut down a baby pine (what kind of tree it is I actually don’t have a clue) and used that. I was very reluctant at first at his idea to use a tree in our backyard, and honestly, I was probably a little snobby about it. But he did it anyway and brought it inside. And truthfully, I had fun “decorating” it the day after.
We even began a new tradition in the process. When I moved in, I brought with me about 12 ornaments that I have been collecting throughout the years, either from when I was a teacher or a foster parent, or ornaments I made by my own hand. We decided today that our new Christmas tradition every year would be to gift each other ornaments that are relevant to that year. And as our family grows, so will our Christmas decorations. I absolutely adore the idea that I will be able to give our daughter special and meaningful Christmas decorations for her own tree one day. It makes my once-Grinch heart grow and grow.
As far as gifts, we’ve decided to not do them in our household for now. We ordered collage wall art from Shutterfly of our new daughter to give to the grandparents. The gifts don’t get much better than wall art with seven pictures of her pretty face anyway. As far as gifts for each other, our ornament idea is as far as we’re going. And our daughter, being one month old only, already has everything she could possibly need. We’re actually trying to get rid of more stuff we don’t use, so we’re definitely not trying to add more.
Despite my past perceptions, we’re deciding that Christmas is about us, about giving and not receiving, and about making memories (like cutting trees we already have around us). We’re also deciding to ditch our ideas of what gift-giving actually mean and moving on.
And that makes me happy.