Thursday, November 13, 2008

Weird, Spooky Thought

Julie asked about Xmas traditions. All of our traditions are wrapped up in my parents. It's SO important to my mother that we're all together on that day. When we lived in the East, we only made it to L.A. one year for Christmas. That was my favorite one in all my years living there because there was no snow :) and it was a gorgeous 80 degrees. It was awesome.

Christmases in L.A. are always spent at my parents' house. My kids are usually over there on Xmas Eve because my parents watch them during their winter break so I can save money. So my dad bakes cookies with the girls for Santa (even though my kids know the truth) and both my parents endure the Chipmunks holiday cd (hey - it's not MY fault they bought it) until I get there. Then we eat tamales while we switch the music to something I can bear, and the girls get to open 2 presents each - because they know that one of them will be pjs.

We get the kids up to bed as soon as we can, and my parents and I hit the alcohol. Wine, hot toddies, whatever. We wait until we're sure the kids are asleep, and then finish wrapping, and setting out presents. My dad eats the cookie and drinks the milk (okay, sometimes I help with the cookies). We drink and talk and eventually make our way up to bed.

The girls are up first, of course. My dad or I make the coffee, and we put on the same Xmas album we had when my sister and I were growing up. I insist upon it, actually.

The presents are opened, and then my dad makes popovers. We switched from a crown roast Xmas dinner to a popover breakfast a few years ago. My sister and her family usually comes up by the time the popovers are ready, and there is more unwrapping to be done. We hang out a bit, and then my sister and her family leave to go to her husband's family's house, and the girls and I pack up and go home to relax the rest of the afternoon and evening.

There have been many years when frankly, I'd rather skip the whole thing. I've had some rough holiday seasons in the past. I get stressed about money and obsess about it all, and it'd just be nice to just take the day off. (And you all know me well enough by now to know that ours is a purely secular - oh, let's face commercial - celebration of the day.)

But I always go through with it, and guess what? It's not for the kids. Sometimes I think my kids could do without expecting presents twice a year. Sometimes I think my kids would have a better day feeding the homeless. Sometimes I think my kids would most appreciate just spending quality time together. No, it's not for them that I continue to celebrate.

It's for my parents. It really does mean a lot to both of them to have us here, and to celebrate with us. They love spoiling the girls, and seeing them rejoice in it. They love having all of the family together, and I could never disappoint them by not being there ever again.

But what happens when they're gone? (This is where the "weird, spooky" part comes in.) What would Xmas be if my dad isn't there to make the cookies and popovers? Or my mom isn't there to stoke the fire and make pretty ribbons? And take pictures and make photo albums of it all?

They're not perfect, and we certainly have our share of problems. We disagree on a lot of things, so there's a lot we just don't talk about anymore.

But even with all of that, I still can't picture a Christmas without them.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh, I love Christmas for the atmosphere more than anything. I love big paper packages tied up with string and all of that nonsense, but I love spending it with my family, too. Since my parents are divorced, it's not ever with both of them, but I always have it with one of them and it's nice and wouldn't be the same, you are right.

Kori said...

Time to start making a few of your own small traditions, whatever they might be. I love you, and you are SUCH a great mom, and yes, when they are "gone" it will still be Xmas.

Suzie said...

It sound like a great tradition

david mcmahon said...

G'day from Australia.

We are ALL children of tradition, thank goodness!

Single Working Mommy said...

I knew where this was going... We have similiar traditions (always a huge family party at my parent's house on Christmas Eve), and I thought the very same thing earlier this week!


Anonymous said...

For Hanukkah, we each make our own traditions and share them with both sides of the family. The adults have a grab bag and that is the only gift they get as an adult.

I asked that we stop giving materials gifts (things we just don't really need) and start giving in other ways THROUGHOUT the year. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen; build a house for Habitat for Humanity; work a shift for someone who never gets a break; pick up the garbage on the streets of your immediate neighborhood...those are the traditions I want to start having with my families and they will last a long, long time.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Shiona said...

That sounds like a great tradition. Yes families are sometimes like men. Can't live with them can't live without them. Although I can definitely do without men at the moment :)

Sandi McBride said...

Whatever you and your family do will be a tradition that your children will remember. Lovely post. Congrats on Post of the Day mention. Well deserved.

larkswing said...

Over from David's. . .

Congrats on being on his list!

Aren't traditions great?!?

Anonymous said...

Here from David's POTD and glad I am. Your parents traditions will become yours with, added on traditions of your own.

Lovely post.

Jen said...

We don't do Christmas at our house - I did growing up, and I also lighted candles for Hanukkah, but we just did the candles - no dreidls, latkes or anything else - that was at my neighbors' and we went to them and they came to us for Christmas dinner, which they didn't celebrate, obviously.

Anyway, when C was smaller, we were trying to keep a Jewish household, despite our mixed family background - I wanted C to have a firmer sense of identity than I had growing up. The only result is that we're more confused than ever. I used to really guilt trip that our traditions had changed over the years, but I realize now that we have different traditions that are not holiday-centered, and that C enjoys those just as much.

When your folks are gone, you, Sylvia and Riley will decide what traditions YOU want.

Ugh... didn't mean to right a novel.