traditions, new and old

December 6, 2010

the time of year between thanksgiving and new years always feels like a hurried bunch of waste– it's impossible to get anything done.  my brain misfires off into holiday oblivion.

i've found this year more than any year before {ever} that i dislike the holiday season.  all the things that were so fun about the holidays as a kid (breaks from school, food, treats, presents) either don't exist for adults or are more of a stress than a joy.  out in the real world you only get a day or two (if you're lucky) off for the holidays, a far stretch from the endless childhood break time.  days that used to be spent in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, playing with new toys, and reading books are now crammed full of going to work, errands, shopping lists, grocery runs, and chores.

adult life iz serious business.  never grow older, kids.

but nothing, nothing, has added to the holiday stress the way having a child has.  the pressure from all sides to be at certain places at certain times, the calls of, "oh but we HAVE to see the BAAAAYBE!"  before it was just balancing my side vs. his side (which can be tough enough), what on earth we would do with the dogs (take them with us)– now it's the additional count of who gets to see the baby when and for how long.  plus, we have the extra challenge of both of our families living out of state, so every holiday is spent traveling away from our home and away from our schedule.  every christmas morning for the past 8 years i have woken up in a strange bed before 8am and traveled between holiday events, then while pregnant, with an infant, now with a toddler.

honestly by now we're pros at packing and traveling, even with the little dude.  so i can't 100% blame it on "stress," though i won't deny that it's harder to force the changes in routine on a toddler and we pay for it with epic meltdowns.  but the heart of the matter is that i spend my time off work, my precious time with my little family, traveling and hurrying and being away.  doing thing after thing to make other people happy.  when do i get to be happy?  when do we get to use our miniscule time off work to relax together?  no one seems to give a crap about that.  is going through the motions really enough if everyone isn't having a good time?

forgive my rantiness.  this is exactly what i want to avoid.  the holidays make me grouchy, and who really wants to spend forced "quality time" with a grouchy person anyway?  no one, including me.  i've even written a near-identical post about this 2+ years ago.  clearly, even though i was upset about it then, nothing came of it.  something has to give, i can't go on like this forever.

last christmas was a breath of fresh air in at least one way though– i saw what it would be like to share the magic of the holidays with the jude.  to a little kid that shit is straight up MAGICAL AWESOMESAUCE.  to get to see these traditions and all the fun through his eyes is something something i look forward to.  favorite movies and cookies and twinkling lights and snow– the good stuff!  i get to relive it in between loads of laundry and dishes.

this year due to our work schedules it looks increasingly like we will be unable to travel, at least for the "official" christmas date.  it will be our first holiday at home as a family.  part of me feels guilty, pressured– part of me is pretty damn excited to be free.  oh, our own baking and cooking!  oh, our own tree and lights!  oh, the sleeping in!  oh, the jammies and toys!  not driving anywhere!  it's a chance to finally forge some of our own traditions.   

so, what kinds of things might we want to do?
what habits do we want to form to carry on through the years?

being just the three (+ dogs) of us, i am worried that it'll be a little... sparse.  what traditions do you do with your loved ones around this time?  a special movie you watch?  a new pair of jammies on christmas eve?  a favorite recipe?  do you sleep in?  make a huge breakfast?  eat pizza?

give me your favorite holiday pastimes and coping mechanisms, i'd really like to hear them.
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