Monday, December 8, 2014

christmas on my mind



Apologizing upfront, for this writing is a little all over the place. My mind has been a bit weary, circling and warring with itself- back and forth, so this is an honest account on where I've been on the Christmas front.

When first beginning our holiday traditions, Kaleb and I failed to put much thought into what we hoped for as a family. We simply went with the flow of what everyone else was doing and had done for years before us, mixing in bits and pieces from our childhoods and forming our own traditional christmas.

Santa, reindeer, cookies, lots of presents, extended family. .  you get the idea.

Over the past few years, we were both left feeling defeated.  Something was missing, it had to be about more- there had to be something that fit us. Traditions that combined all those lovely cozy feelings, with more meaning and simplicity.

It's interesting how often we just go with what everybody else is doing- or more, what we grew up doing. Failing to notice that it isn't necessarily what makes us happy anymore. Kaleb and I out at Target two days before Christmas spending lots of money on toys I will ultimately give away in two months time, does not make me happy. There was no joy in it, and even though I grew up believing in Santa Claus (for probably way too long) and we have done the Santa thing for the last few years. Kaleb and I never felt comfortable with it. We agonized over it and this year we just felt it wasn't for us. 

Thankfully Kaleb took the lead, learned everything he could about St. Nick, and shared with the kiddos how the man, the myth, the legend in the jolly red suit got it's beginnings. We were positive there would be tears and questions but we were pleasantly surprised to find they were just excited to learn about St. Nick and his giving spirit. We celebrated St. Nick's day this past Saturday- leaving our shoes out to be filled. The wilds spent hours Friday making small gifts for each other and sweet cards for mommy and daddy. They were so excited to be the givers! I started to see a shift, like maybe we were on to something, something that would ultimately start us on our own path with Christmas.

For me, it seems this time of year can bring up some complicated feelings and shine a light on aches I'd been trying to hide. I have been putting way too much pressure on myself to make these lasting memories, to make everything a big deal, to have the best gifts, and maybe just maybe if I do everything right, somehow this will solve everything. It will ensure that when they are grown up we will still be a family. That it will solidify us as unbreakable and a forever family. It probably doesn't make sense to you, I have a hard time even trying to explain it, but what I have found is it's not these big gestures or plans or presents- it's the small moments. It's us curled up by the fire, folding pages on christmas magazines, pointing out things we love. It's sitting next to their beds talking late into the night. It's holding hands as we feed chickens, it's believing in Kaleb and I as a couple and the kids being comfortable in us and our love. These are the moments that make impressions, that build and bind us.

In that light, were changing it up- I feel like we're trying a hundred different things and it's a little exhausting and far from simple, but I think it's important we find what works- traditions we want to begin for ourselves. We've settled upon one gift a piece, plus stockings of course (Grandparents do it up big and the kiddos love that special time!) and leaving all the rest of our time for activities together, crafts, giving, for intimate moments and special treasures. 

I like that we're seeking, that together we're finding what makes us happy as a family, that we're being a little bit selfish and preserving some parts for just the six of us. I like that I'm finally coming into my own and being brave and bold enough to buck custom and step out in my own way. What about you, any advice, traditions you think might suit us, things to try, new activities? Do you ever battle similar feelings with Christmas?

29 comments :

  1. Brave beautiful you. So, so happy to read this post. There are so many beautiful moments in it, so much beautiful writing. I admire your strength and determination to follow what feels right for you, and your wilds, and to go with that. You are building them a very firm foundation upon which, and from which, they'll shine (and are shining). What wonderful, wonderful considerate, reflective parents you are.

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  2. I think you nailed it! Just because something's been done a certain way for years doesn't mean it's the right way. You really have to find what feels right to you. My boyfriend and I decided awhile ago that we'd rather save the money that we were going to spend on gifts and spend it on experiences instead. Our new tradition is going on a cabin getaway every year around Christmas and unplugging and just enjoying each other and the simplicity of the moment. I can only imagine it's a lot harder with kids and I think it's amazing that you're taking the time to figure out what is good for your family instead of just doing what's expected.

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    1. I love that idea!!! I think it's much more fun to go and do something and spend quality time together!

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  3. I can definitely identify with you on this. I understand where you are coming from. Christmas can bring up things that we wish were stressful, different than they used to be, harder, more confusing. I've found in the last few years it has been hard to find my place having Christmases with two families. I know that so many people do it, and it isn't something that is easy to work around... but it has been a real struggle for me. And much of my extended family does not have holiday traditions beyond exchanging gifts, talking, and a shopping trip. All fun things of course, but when we get older and those things no longer happen, and some trade in their Christmas trip 'home' for staying away for work or going further away it leaves us with a broken feeling at Christmas. KC and I have been trying hard to make traditions the two of us that work in our lives.So far it has been fun, but a little hard to stick to but a good exploration for us. I LOVE that you guys learned about St. Nick and the filling of the shoes! It is so sweet I have always wanted to do that! A few things that we do (or try to!) that you might enjoy(?): We try to give back in some way at Christmas, sometimes we would choose a child off of an 'Angel Tree' other times we would take paper towels, bleach etc. to the animal shelter... so many options here. We drink that hotschnappslate that I posted and watch a Christmas movie together, we usually do 'Love Actually' - not a great choice for kids, but fun for the two of us. We also try to go ice skating. The Nutcracker is also something really fun we try to do. It is nice to get a little dressed up and see something so special. As a child the few times I went it was really magical. I know it can be expensive, but often times there are performances at smaller arts centers that are much more affordable but equally special (especially for kids). I also have really fond memories of rolling pinecones in peanut butter and birdseed and stringing them in the trees for the winter birds. Good luck on your Christmas tradition journey, I know it can be tough to navigate, but it seems like you are getting more comfortable with directions it is heading. :) XO -Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. Thank you! I sometimes get so nervous about a post like this, so to have these kind responses and understanding and see that other people or battling the same thoughts- well, it just means the world to me! Thanks for the great ideas too!

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  4. Well said!! We shared the history of St Nick awhile ago. We've got one who is holding on to the idea of Santa. I've not sat down and really asked her. I love to hear how people create their own traditions! It's a beautiful thing!

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  5. Happy to see you following your heart, and creating traditions for your beautiful family. Enjoy! xo

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  6. This is such a beautiful post, written straight from the heart. We have decided not to really "do" Santa with our family too, but doing something to celebrate St. Nick and the giving spirit is a really great idea. It is the perfect way to bring the family together with a fun new tradition. Having the kids make little homemade gifts for each other will be such a sweet Christmas memory for them I am sure!

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  7. We did do Santa but made Santa gave the small gifts. The special gift was always from us. And really our favorite thing is that on holidays we all go bike riding together at the beach. The presents are just a small part instead of the focus. I love that you are doing your own thing. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make traditions-sometimes they just happen and sometimes the new things are special because they are new.

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  8. I really think it is important to find traditions that work for you as a family rather than worry about what everyone else is doing, which can certainly be a challenge. I've always loved the idea of chopping your own tree, that might be something your little ones might enjoy, or growing one to have on your property year round and decorating it.

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  9. I love this post so much!! It really is amazing how easy it is to go along with what we grew up doing, or what other people are doing at Christmas time. My husband and I celebrate more simply than we grew up doing, and I can't say for sure since we don't have kids yet, but I'd like to think we'll maintain that and make Christmas more about the time we spend together, and less about the presents. I love that your kids were so receptive to learning about St.Nick. Our nephews and niece have grown up knowing about St.Nick the person rather than Santa Clause, and I like the idea of doing that with our kids too. :-)

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    1. I don't know how I've grown up and never knew about St Nick the person, it was wildly interesting and it made everything that much more special!

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  10. Such good thoughts. My family went through the same process when we were little. The holiday should be a time of togetherness and little gifts, but also trying to give to others. I hate that the whole idea of consume seems to dominate all our minds and personally love to keep it small and intimate. xo

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  11. I don't have a family of my own yet but I enjoyed reading this. It gave me a lot to think about for the future.

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  12. I don't know for sure what we will do when we have kids someday, but I know that we hope to keep things simple as far as gifts go. I love your thoughts here!

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  13. This idea really resonates with me. My parents always brought me and my sister up to focus on giving at Christmas, and we would always be so much more excited about handing out gifts we'd made together and seeing the reaction of family members. I hope when I have a family of my own I can continue this idea of a simple Christmas focused on giving, family and love. Thanks for such an inspiring post!

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  14. Christmas is so magical time... Family traditions are very important. Thanks to you, I'm learning a lot of things that I will use in the future when I have children. So big thank you my dear. Nice to read your posts.

    www.am-kubicowelove.blogspot.com

    love, xoxo

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  15. i've been digging deep into the recesses of my memory lately to unearth the real source of my fondest christmases and it wasn't the gifts that i recalled, but those feelings of comfort and joy you always hear about. and those feelings often came from family, traditions, spending time together, songs, laughter... i love that you are blazing your own trail, breaking the mold, and teaching your children the true meaning of this season. it's awesome. xo

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  16. my mom and dad always provided a really good balance during christmas (life). i always went to mass, not only for christmas but throughout the year. i saved money and gave to those less fortunate. my mom kept gifts to a minimum. i would get maybe 10-20. i always thought it was so small compared to what other children receive. hahaha it's whatever you and your family want christmas to be. some people like to keep things small and some go all out. it's a personal preference.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  17. I love your traditions you described. I have thought a lot about what I want to do once I have babies and honestly I haven't reached any conclusions yet! But I like your idea of simplifying the holiday and remembering the things that are important like togetherness, memories and family. The holiday is too commercialized and I have to admit I have taken part in that plenty haha. Time to rethink things I guess! Thank you for sharing.

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  18. I just can't with that picture. HOW CUTE! And you should make this about your family! I'm definitely not ready to make certain changes in my holiday. I love my family's traditions and even at 25 I still make sure there are things we accomplish. Some traditions we grow out of (writing letters to Santa) and others we create later on (playing games on Christmas Eve), but what's most important is it's ours and we are doing it together. Your kids are going to love these things and they will always be special to all of you.

    - Sarah :)
    www.thecrownbijoux.blogspot.com

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  19. I love that you guys are building your own traditions- ones that are rooted in the spirit of Christmas and not the craziness! It's about the small things- those are what will end up holding your family together, not the big, extravagant gifts or the huge presents from Santa. And a nice cuddle by the fire sounds lovely! :)

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  20. such a nice idea, and great to carve out new traditions. I spent a lot of time with my grandfather at christmas and since he passed its the traditions that keep it all together for us.

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  21. I really love that you're looking at creating your own, personal and unique experience of Christmas, as opposed to following the masses on what this time of year 'should' or 'should not' bring. Your mind isn't at all messy by the way, it's simply busy, and that's the best thing a mind can be! :) Have a beautiful Christmas with your family!

    http://aglassofice.blogspot.co.uk

    x

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  22. Truth be told, I somehow found your blog and even though I've never read blogs like yours before I just couldn't stop reading! Good job :)

    xo
    www.saintinfinity.com

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  23. I loooove what you did and how you did it and that it turned out so well! I sometimes think about how my boyfriend and I will go about Christmas once we have a family because, while we both celebrate Christmas, we celebrated it in very different ways. Reading this beautiful post of yours is all the reassurance I needed that it'll be wonderful no matter what as long as we do what we feel good about.

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  24. Another beautiful post!
    You literally have put lots of my feelings/thoughts into words. Christmas is an interesting tradition in this country. The meaning of it has been lost and societal pressure often causes families to partake in traditions that don't suite them. For my family, we are still trying to figure out how to address this issue. We are making our own traditions but most of them are pretty typical. I love that you celebrated a St Nick day and are keeping the gifts low key. I am sure your children will have wonderful meaningful memories.
    The Doctor Diva

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  25. i completely and totally get it. we have always done our best to keep things simple and to spend as little money as possible on ... well, crap. i have never bought decorations and basically just use what is lying around in the yard. and gifts, well we do the same. i wish my mother would follow this ha ha because she always buys so. much. stuff. and by stuff i mean plastic toys that eleanor will play with for a day and then it will inevitably end up in the goodwill pile. i think what you are doing sounds great and i love that you had a fun discussion about st. nich. we never did santa here either. you're right. you have to start your own loving traditions as a family and something that feels right to you. im sure your children feel very loved and thankful for you each year. youre doing it right, girl. xoxox.

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