Sunday, November 11, 2007

A plan, of sorts, for Christmas.

Thinking about Christmas around here…wondering how we are going to celebrate the season. All of the traditions of my youth are done; good, happy memories like Midnight Mass, Grandpa’s voice booming above all the others, singing from the pews; Prime Rib, mashed potatoes, shrimp salad, and the homemade rolls that were my responsibility; Grandpa telling Grandma to quit cleaning the kitchen and sit down to dinner so that he could say Grace…, sliding down the hardwood floor hallway in our stocking feet and every year, her tears when Grandpa gave her her gift, and again when Uncle Jim brought out his accordion. Those traditions died a little when Grandpa died, and faded into nothingness when Grandma did.
Also, moving and settling into a new life has been worth it, but has left us bereft of our familial traditions, and unfortunately has also been very expensive. Every year it feels like we have no money for Christmas, just as we heard every year of our youth that there would not be much for Christmas, but now, just as then, I remain faithful that Christmas will be just as magical as ever.

One of the things that my little family does is put up an advent calendar that Dean’s mom made for the boys when they were little. It is a big felt thing; a red background with a giant tree stitched to it, and 24 little numbered pockets. There is, in each of the 24 little pockets, a portion of a story about the night of the birth of Christ, and little tiny felt Christmas tree decorations, so that on the final night, all that remained to have a fully decorated tree was the star, which of course was the sole decoration in the 24th little pouch. When Jo made the tree, she made a number of these adorable little decorations, in all manner of Christmas ephemera, but for my little family of three (one little decoration for each child to pin on after the little blurb was read…) there were not quite enough. There were enough for two in each pocket, with four or five left over. I tried making some, but they just didn’t go, so I tossed them that same Christmas, and every year after that, I would take some down and stick them in the pocket for the next evening, so that each of my duckys got a decoration. The kids really loved that silly tree, and it became, in all its funky mid-century felt-ness, one of our fondest nuclear-unit traditions. But something is definitely missing this year. That little tree needs to a part of something “big”, and warm, and part-of-a-tradition, so this year I’ve decided to keep that tree put away… Our family is not together (with one off to College until just before the Christmas Eve) and our home is certainly four walls and a roof and gives us shelter and an address, but one thing I know now that I didn’t know then is that décor is not what makes a house warm. This apartment is not “our house” and somehow I feel that our little advent calendar tradition deserves a little more respect than that. Everything in our lives is so different that I’m kinda thinking I want to save it to bring out someday when there are grandkids. Maybe by then I will have perfected my felt-crafting technique, and I can create a new batch of gew-gaws for a new batch of children; in the meantime, I am going to take the two little kids in a different direction. We're going to modify our Advent Calendar tradition to include not a story, but a daily directive, to encourage the kids to look outward, into a larger sphere, and perhaps encourage them to start taking that increasingly adult perspective of Christmas, to fill with some “true-meaningness” those years between when one is a child, and Christmas holds so much wonder and anticipation, and when one becomes a parent, and Christmas again becomes what it is meant to be, seen through the eyes of a child.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Megan,
    I finally found your blog after several attempts and am enjoying it a lot. It is great to see pictures of the kids and see them doing so well in the new locale. Love your writing-you have a wonderful style! Things are pretty much the same around here-your momma jumping from one creative project to the next- which I love! Keep up the good work Megan!
    Carol S.
    P.S. Your apartment may not be your "house" but it is certainly a "home" because you make it so.