When I was a child, Christmas holidays were magic. It was New Year rather than Christmas in USSR, but everything about it was the same. Snow would start falling in the second half of December, and my Dad would bring home a Christmas tree, and I would be so excited. I was also born on New Year, so the whole season is special to me.
My family would have a big dinner. My mom would start cooking early, and I would dart around the kitchen, stealing cookie dough and generally getting in the way. Everyone would come, my grandparents, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins… I would get to sit at the table with everybody and eat yummy food, and the tree would be covered in glitter. Everything was great.
And then, as I grew older, reality began to creep up into the magic, melting it bit by bit. That big dinner? Mom cooked it alone and nobody helped. My grandmother would occasionally bring something, but in her later years, anything she brought had to be inspected. One time she put rancid sour cream into the cake. After everyone left, there would be a massive pile of dishes. There was no dishwasher.
Adults would get roaring drunk in a fine Russian holiday tradition. Sometimes they would get snappy. My aunts would make passive aggressive comments. After my grandfather became ill and died, we didn’t do big gatherings as much, which I mourned and my mom celebrated.
The country was falling apart, the future was uncertain, and I desperately needed that happy bubble of New Year, but it grew thinner and thinner, until one year it popped. It was barely eleven o’clock. My parents had a fight at the table. Mom went to bed. Dad did, too. My brother, who was 7 at the time, fell asleep as well. I sat alone at the table filled with food and looked at the TV. It was New Year. We were supposed to stay up till twelve.
I was so sad. I felt lonely and abandoned.
And then I realized that just because they didn’t want to have fun didn’t mean I couldn’t. This was my holiday. I had a right to have fun on New Year’s, damn it. I got myself some of my favorite Olivier salad, poured champagne into my glass, changed the channel, and watched the New Year celebration until fireworks died down. I had an awesome time.
This year holidays might seem grim for some of us. People can’t see their loved ones. I found out yesterday that both my dad and my step mother had COVID. They were both vaccinated, so it was a mild case, but they did not tell me. The only reason I found out was because I realized Dad hadn’t called for several weeks. The plague is still here. People aren’t traveling, families don’t get together, holiday traditions are broken. Some of us are lonely. Some of us are grieving. Some are afraid. One of my friends right now is despondent, because she can’t do a big gathering, and I told her to take a day off for herself and she told me she doesn’t know what that would look like.
This won’t do.
You still have a right to peace and happiness this holiday season, whichever holiday you choose to celebrate. Decide what that happiness is and go for it. Spend your holiday hiking or playing video games. If you like Christmas but would rather not give gifts or if you would prefer to drown the tree in wrapping paper, you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it. Don’t make the big dinner if you don’t feel like it or make too much stuffing and then eat it for a week. Zoom with your family or don’t.
Take this time to do things that soothe your soul. Protect your holiday, whatever it may be. There is no guilt. There are no expectations. Because all of us could use a break.
PS. Well, there is one expectation. Mod R wants me to remind you about the upcoming zoom chat. Some of you are confused. You get the first chapter if you attend this zoom chat here. Not the Fated Blades chat. This chat. You have not been cheated out of your chapter. It’s all good.
I don’t know that I ever had, or can remember having a “bad Christmas” but I did spend one, many years ago, in Great Lakes at the tail end of Navy basic. The next year, we were in Hong Kong after a six month deployment. I went to a giant Toys’R’Us that was amazingly decorated for Christmas and bought myself action figures. Even later I would usually spend the holiday on the ship, everybody was gone mostly and then take my leave after the holidays. Oh, our worst together Christmas was that year we had to go to California and you were pregnant with Kid 1. At least we had an awesome SNES waiting we we came home. My favorite was the very next one. We alternated playing Daggerfall, playing with toddler Kid 1 and eating little lamb sandwiches. That was the best.
Vince Renfro says
Ahhhh..Good old Great Mistakes.Lol
I used to do the same thing for holiday leave. Much easier to take it after on my ship.
Lacey Pfeffer says
This is really sweet.
Happy Holidays, Gordon family!
Christmas season is special for me too. My birthday is five days before and Ive always loved the decorations and lights. While my mom kept it separate I still had most of my cousins and siblings for a “party” since everyone was on Christmas break from school.
We are a little sad this year, my brother wont be able to make it from Trinidad. Since his job would require him to quarantine for 2 weeks non paid once he returns. He just cant afford it. I havent met my neice and nephew in person yet but we will make do with video chats. My neice, my son and my other nephew in NJ video chat every saturday like its a job, so we will be mostly fine.
I still havent figured out what to cook, I dont want traditional, I honestly dont even want to cook at all. I’ll take a family vote soon and see what happens. Plus my big kid will be home from the 24th to 28th. Its his first year away from home and youngest kid desperate misses his big brother.
Happy Holidays everyone.
Many grocery stores now offer a cooked holiday meal, my girlfriend is vegetarian and everyone else is carnivore. The past couple of years she just ordered it and said it was one of the best decisions she made, maybe it will help you too.
I’m doing okay, but family issues may drive me over the edge. I just had to take the car keys away from my 90-year-old mother (an overdue action) and I’m being bombarded with messages and phone calls about ruining her life. Trying to let the vituperation roll off my back. Right now, I’m thinking about skipping out of work for a nice hike in our unseasonably reasonable weather.
Happy holidays and peace to all!
Lynn Thompson says
I feel your pain, kristi. Been there did that. I had to take my Mothers keys away from her at age 70 because she was stopping at every stop because it was a “stoplight “ with grandkids in car. She is still angry with me 10 years later. I am grateful to have her and kids alive unharmed etc.
Thanks, Lynn. I guess I was lucky that she was able to drive fairly well for so long. But she’s starting to get disoriented more, and ended up last Saturday night in a city 2 hours from home! Anything could have happened! And if she hurt or killed someone else, I think I’d be the one living with the guilt. (She probably wouldn’t remember.)
I have done that. What helped me, was when a friend suggested I go to the car dealer and have them make a fake key. That was desperate, and I did it when I was convinced she was going to kill someone. You are very brave to do it. For me, I have to look myself in the mirror every morning. If she had killed someone, I would have been very difficult to face myself everyday. Be kind to yourself.
Thanks, Susan. Besides taking the keys, my husband disabled the car (which was smart, because it turned out she had a third key hidden and managed to find it!). Honestly, I should have done it sooner but it was damned hard to do.
Cynthia R says
Kristi, hang in there!
I can relate as my 91 year old father was living alone in AZ until beginning of October when he had a heart attack. My husband and I had been trying to get him help before this but he is so stubborn! I spent most of the month of Oct in AZ and I have been flying back and forth from Albany, NY to Yuma, AZ ever since. He has been diagnosed with cognitive impairment in addition to being physically compromised and I gave him options amd of course he didn’t like any of them. So, he has an apartment in an assisted living facility and he complains constantly to me as I am his caregiver now. His friends keep calling, texting, etc and telling me he’s fine why can’t he go home?
Give yourself a lot of credit it’s not easy being the voice of reason in a sea of people who don’t want to hear it. ❤
Thanks, Cynthia! ❤ I am lucky in that everyone around her is in agreement with me (family and her friends) that it is time for a change. Of course, she doesn’t see it at all. The steps right now are car, doctor (next week), and new housing situation (soon). Physically, she can still get around just fine. She’s on no medications at age 90. But her cognitive impairment is accelerating. And, I’m the oldest sibling so most of the action will fall to me.
In a way, I’m glad that there was a crisis that forced me to actually act. This has been my number one stress for the last 2 years.
I’m struggling to keep the positive vibe going as we’re back on lockdown with schools closing and all that stress. So I spent an inordinate amount of money treating myself to a HUGE set of LEGO. Not the kid. Me. It’s over 4000 pieces and I love just looking at the box. Actually starting on it dan wait, the anticipation is sooooo good already… Merry Christmas to me 😉
(yes, I also got the kid a LEGO set, but one definitely more suited for age and interest 😉 )
So yes, I couldn’t agree more with the idea that you can just try to own that holiday 😉
A thousand times yes! It’s super okay to get yourself something that makes you happy. You don’t have to justify it to anyone.
Ohhh – which box?
10255 – Assembly Square 😁 I received the bookshop last birthday as a present (I forgot which number that is) and felt it looked lonely on its shelf 😉
Yes, which kit? I found this list of big ones: https://thecollector.io/features/the-30-biggest-lego-sets-ever
I’ve got (and have built more than once) the Taj Mahal, Tower Bridge and Roller Coaster. My husband, who enjoys the modular buildings, has Assembly Square.
Ha, it is indeed on it, on 24, Assembly Square 😁 I do think Birch Books and Assembly Square may get more company if this pandemic doesn’t let up soon😉, like your husband I too like the modular buildings!
Mary Barton says
Love the modular buildings but have a giant millenium falcon i haven’t started yet. Have fun.
Cool! Have so much fun putting it together! The new modular due out next year looks pretty nifty, too, if you haven’t seen it yet. http://thebrickblogger.com/2021/12/2022-lego-modular-building-boutique-hotel/
🙂 Merry Christmas
Carolyn Samko says
I completely support that decision! I bought myself an expensive fully articulated fashion doll that is 16” tall. Not for the kid either. I’m going to sew for it. Not for any reason. Just because it’s fun and I need some beauty and joy to look forward to. 😁
Awesome! That’s the kind of project that just rocks!
Bless you for this sound advice. We just had a family discussion where we decided that we were not going to a gathering as some folks are not vaccinated and I am high risk (lung issues/damage) even though I am vaccinated.
May the blessings you provide come back 10 fold. May your joy this season be found and nutured. Merry Christmas and Happy New year.
Now – where is the wine?
Diane Wilson says
No plans here; family is scattered all over the other half of the country. I’ll try to get together with friends, but they’ll be traveling, so I’ll fit in as schedules allow. But one treat will be recording a piano piece I’ve been working on most of this year. It’s special because it’s my first foray into jazz (I’ve always played classical), and although I can’t improvise, I’ve written some “improv” into the piece, so I’m happy with that, too.
Then in January, my best friend will deliver her second child, so the new year will be off to a good start.
Michal Glines says
❤️ This year our Christmas will be the tiny table tree I made for my mother the year before she died, my son home for Christmas from rendering us empty nesters a year earlier than expected, preparation for his ongoing travel adventures in the new year, and re-hunkering down at home to endure some more of these rather extraordinary times.
My aspirations for the next year are pretty restrained after the disappointment of last year.
Here’s wishing everyone a New Year to look forward to, safety and health, some reasonable progress in the world, and enough hope to make it through to the year after next.
This was my answer to Thanksgiving. Mom and I went and had a beautiful dinner at Davio’s. No cooking, no clean up and exceptional cocktails.
We’ll do pretty much the same for Christmas with my brother and nephew while his wife is in California with her family. My brother is a bit stroppy about not having the turkey for Christmas but, since he didn’t volunteer to cook it, he will get what he gets and better not throw a fit.
My Christmases growing up were pretty magical and that was down to Mom. Even dad was usually surprised by what my brother and I got.
I don’t know how my mom did it for years – full turkey dinner on Thanksgiving and then special Christmas Eve, Christmas morning and Christmas evening meals. While holding down a demanding job and having two kids (three if you count dad). I do know that I am not up for that. I’ve tried a few times and I didn’t feel like I had a Thanksgiving or Christmas those years.
I will say we had a rotten Christmas experience once – my aunt threw us and my other uncle and his family out because the kids were too loud in their unfinished basement (that was completely devoid of anything for the kids to do/play with). There were nine of us. Seven of them boys. Need I say more? We’ve laughed about it a lot over the years though.
May your days be merry and bright this season!
As long as my covid test is negative I’m off to my younger son’s house for Christmas. I haven’t seen them in two years so I’m excited about going.
I expect my roommate to move out (without notice) when I’m gone, sneaking out like a thief in the night after nearly four years. Toss up whether she’ll pay her back rent. Oh well, definitely past time and I need to start packing up to move next May, so it works for me. My conscience is clear, hers is her problem.
Wishing everyone their best version of the holidays for themselves. Whatever your choice, embrace it!
It is the second year of not seeing any of my family, as they are either in New Zealand or the UK, so I have a few sad moments here and there. However, my sister in the UK organized a Zoom for Party Games last year that was a surprising success, so we are doing that again. Plus, my parents do get to go to her house for Christmas, so I won’t worry about them all alone…either sad or throttling each other!! I
Kim Stewart says
I grew up in a big Mexican family, huge party Christmas Eve, card games that would last until dawn, 14 people around the tree with a huge breakfast to follow. The structure is still the same, if smaller, but:
It doesn’t work for my ND family. Too many people, too much noise, too much, and a 7 hour drive that runs to 12 after we deal with LA traffic.
I was distraught that first year, but wow. It turned out to be soooo much better. No worrying about what the kids were eating, or not eating. No one to please but the people I know the best. My husband suggested we go down this year, and I noped on out. Here’s to making holidays work for us!
Carol J Southard says
My Mom and Dad always made our holiday special, even when money was short. My Mom played beautiful Christmas music, we always had a decorated tree (tinsel, glass balls, angel hair, and garlands). They made it magic for us. My Mom (who my Dad called”the best cook he ever knew), cooked turkey, dressing, and all the fixings. And the toys…under the tree, with filled stockings, and always crayons, paper, coloring books, modeling clay, pencils, and watercolor paints. Some years were definitely more…lean..yet the magic was always there. As I got older, I also experienced a bit of let-down – until my younger brother (I am 9 years older) was three. My Dad had just changed jobs, and we were staying in a motel in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. We only had enough money for presents for my little brother. We did get a tree, and we (all) decorated it. We older kids decided to do all the presents for our little brother. We made paper chains and drew pictures (and colored them) with Christmas themes. And somehow, even though we got no presents, the magic and glitter of the season was back. My Mom cooked a delicious turkey dinner (with all our help), and my little brother’s reaction and joy on Christmas morning was enchanting. To this day, it stands out as one of my favorite Christmas memories.
This is a lovely story. Thanks for sharing it!
Donna A says
I have mixed feelings about Christmas. Things that seemed normal and acceptable growing up turn out to be not that good and people you’d never associate with generally are your actual relatives and unavoidable. There are expectations, hopes and anxieties. It’s very stressful but it’s meant to be relaxing so that’s stressful in itself. But you get to give people gifts and eat loads and spend time with the family you do like. And there’s list making, handicrafts and baking which I like too. So. Conflicting feelings.
I get that! I was lucky my in-laws are a lot less stressful to be around, but I basically did not celebrate Christmas for years rather than celebrate it with my blood relatives… I hope your positives outweigh your negatives this year!
Merry, happy to all
My best Christmas memory was a few years ago. My son in law surprised my daughter and I with my son who he flew over from HK for a visit. I walked into the kitchen and he wandered in. I wept and hugged him. Best surprise ever. I generally hate surprises and always have except this one.
Okay, so although I feel happy with the words that you wrote I am sitting here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. We were planning to get together with my family this holiday. My parents are elderly and I have not seen them in awhile. My son and his wife were able to get first shots for their 3 boys and were just starting to come out of strict isolation as the youngest has health issues. My husband has stage 4 cancer and was able to get his booster. We were so looking forward to this get together. But now it may not happen.
Your words have hit home. We will be okay, we can make our holiday special however that may be. Thank you for sharing your gift of words and insight. It is so much needed right now. This world today seems to be such a scary place. We need to be reminded of the power of even one kind gesture. We should all take this simple act of kindness and pass it on to someone else. Is there any wonder that you two are my favourite authors. Happiest of holidays to you and your family. 🎄
Moderator R says
Big virtual hugs Janet! I hope all the stars align for you to have a beautiful holiday 🥰
+1 However you spend it, I hope it’s wonderful.
Jean Scanlin says
Ilona , Gordon I read on someone’s post how you helped her . She has lost someone . Thank you . You have good souls . Glad I can follow you . It sounds so trite but wishing you health and happiness .
Maria Schneider says
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Happy Birthday!
Sam E says
This time of year was always very big for my family from Halloween thru New Year’s it was nonstop parties and meals and events. Both of my parents were very big into the holidays. Besides the normal things you’d expect we always did lots extra. We’d go to a pumpkin patch to pick out our Halloween pumpkins to carve, take a hay ride to enjoy the “Fall” weather in Houston, take a trip over to Bryon to visit Santa’s Wonderland, do Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, and much more. The house was always decorated from top to bottom, inside and out for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Holiday appropriate music was always played and sung along with, loudly and somewhat poorly. Each holiday had something special we’d bake together as a family. Halloween was popcorn balls and rice crispy treats, Thanksgiving was pies and Christmas was a weekend long baking fest of cookies and candy. This all continued even after my sister and I grew up, and even more so about 17 years ago when I moved back home to help take care of my parents. We all had stacks of shirts and sweaters, socks and accessories for each holiday that was worn faithfully. My family was the definition of holiday cheer. Just over two years ago, before the start of the pandemic I lost both of my parents about 10 months apart, then COVID hit and I broke my foot and it was like the holidays just disappeared. With my parents gone, my sister wasn’t interested in doing any of the old traditions. A lot of my friends and extended family aren’t vaccinated so I don’t ever see them in person and many of them aren’t a fan of Zoom. Last year was the absolute most depressing holiday season ever. For Thanksgiving I had a couple of pies delivered and ate them straight from the tin while watching Christmas movies and crying. Christmas was me leaving gifts for others on my porch and them dropping off mine when they picked up theirs and then either opening them on a Zoom session or by myself. Because I had to stay off of my broke foot no decorations were put up at all. It was bleak. This year I decided I’m doing the holidays all by myself. I put up some of the decorations for each holiday. Halloween I had a big bag of candy delivered and ate way too much of it while watching semi-scary movies. Thanksgiving I ordered a turkey dinner for 4 delivered from HEB and ate as much as I could by myself and froze the rest for later. For Christmas this year I put up a tree and a fair amount of other decorations. My sister and brother-in-law who are fully vaccinated and boosted are coming over to open gifts in the morning and I’m going to cook breakfast for the three of us instead of trying to do a big lunch or dinner. I’m planning on making myself an assortment of finger foods and having a mini New Year’s calibration too. Because I have some health issues that make me somewhat high risk, I haven’t gone to do any of the fun things we used to but as soon as it’s safe to do so for me, I’ll be doing them even if it’s by myself. I am making my own joy from now on. As I sit here typing this out, I’m wearing a bright green t-shirt with a rubber duck wearing a Santa hat and a headband that has reindeer horns. Happy Holidays everyone no matter what you celebrate
Moderator R says
That a wonderful decision and spirit, Sam! 💪🏻
“As I sit here typing this out, I’m wearing a bright green t-shirt with a rubber duck wearing a Santa hat and a headband that has reindeer horns. ”
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews for the post. Very good advice. I have a mandatory family meeting on 18th where I will present them with Covid statistics for southeastern USA and tell them NO. I will not physically chauffeur Mother 6+ hours to see her family. I plan to stay home, walk the dog on walkabout and be lazy. This isn’t an even year so Christmas tree is still in its box as are decorations. (That was agreement with ex husband who was non Christian faith. Christmas was celebrated in even years. His faith odd years.)
Enjoy your holiday. Mod R same to you. Be well.
Moderator R says
Happy holidays, Lynn!
Good for you Lynn. Have a peaceful holiday.
Thanks, Ilona and Gordon. Lovely sentiments.
My best wishes for some peace and happiness for all.
Times are tough and conspiring against us and I love the idea that we can take control of our holidays.
I’ve always cooked a huge Italian feast and invited folks who didn’t have tons of family to celebrate with.
Last year my hubby and I were alone with our adult daughter. It was the year of the sappy Christmas movie — a tradition we have continued. I highly recommend The 12 Dates of Christmas!
This year we have all been vaccinated and boostered so we are going to attempt a small dinner with our grands. God Bless the Christmas tree because the kids are going to climb it!
Happy New Year !
Kathi Moran says
Lovely words and very true! I think as we get older we do get ‘surprised’ when we see behind the curtain and realize that holidays aren’t they way they were when we were small. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season doing whatever makes you happy!
I too remember the magic of Christmas. Playing with cousins, going to see grandma and grandpa. Total magic. Now, it stinks. I will work 3 12 hour shifts that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I will be tired and stressed. I am not looking forward to Christmas at all
Moderator R says
Sorry Joanne, hope you’ll get some rest and enjoyment afterwards!
Is there anything we can do to help protect your holiday? Uber eats you some fave foods on your work days, as a snack at work or a dinner you don’t have to make? A virtual game night to try and recreate playing with cousins?
I work in a hospital, and I’m working all three days too. Eleven days in a row, actually…I’ll send good wishes your way.
I’m going to make cookies to bring with me and deliver to the other departments…it isn’t a lot, but a little kindness helps all of us keep going.
It won’t be a ‘normal’ Christmas, but I still have so much to be grateful for.
Ilona, Thank you for acknowledging that it isn’t always magical or perfect, but it is always up to each of us to make something good out of it.
I’m a counselor and I just posted this blog to the facebook page of my business. This was wonderfully stated and thank you for sharing your memories and your thoughts about this year. Many (Including myself) are right there with you and I’m telling everyone that if it is a “gift card” Christmas roll with it 🙂
Very well said! My partner and I have spent the last few holidays alone together without our families, which are all scattered and none are nearby. While we miss them, we make the holidays our time to do what we want. We make a big meal together, drink wine, exchange gifts and have a movie marathon. It may not be ideal but it is our holiday and we are happy. I wish that everyone can find some kind of happiness this season in whatever way is possible. Traditions may not be the same but in the end, that’s okay. Stay happy and safe.
Colleen C. says
Christmas is very meh for me for many reasons, especially since my husband died. But this year I am flying ( gulp) to see most of my family. Should be verrrrry interesting. 😉
Richard Cartwright says
I needed to read that. Christmas has been difficult for a while since my mother, sister and,most recently, my wife passed away mid to late November over the last few years. My wife well and truly loved Christmas and I lost the holiday when I lost her in 2019.
Perhaps it’s time to find it again. Again, thanks.
Henry King says
Richard, you’ll get there. It took me three years to start participating in holidays again after my wife died on Easter 2014. I started with decorating my yard on Christmas 2017, the rain ruined that. This is the third year I have decorated a small artificial Christmas tree and placed a wreath on my front door.
My mantra for this time of year is officially “Protect my holiday”. That is such an a awesome goal to work toward / state of mind to embrace.
Christmas was great as a kid.
Until the year our house burned during the winter break. (I was 12 or so–6th grade). Going back to school was hard. Lost count of the fights I got into on the playground because kids were accusing me and my brothers of burning down our home…….yeah, nope.
Every other December since then has been spent mourning at least one family member or friend.
This December is shaping up to be particularly dark. It has claimed two extended family members already (An aunt–unexpectedly at age 52, and a cousin’s kiddo at age 16 to suicide–and we’re only halfway through the month.) That’s before you count the toll to large swaths of the country as a whole.
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Having personally lost a grandfather-in-law on Christmas, a father on Christmas Eve, and a grandmother around that time. An Auntie when I was a senior in high school days away from the holidays. And hubs sister on our youngest kiddo’s birthday two weeks before Christmas. And that’s just immediate family, not counting cousins and great aunts and chosen family etc.)
I tend to spend December in this weird limbo of combined anticipation and dread (looking forward to seeing family for the holidays and enjoying good food and conversation all while fearing the cost of who won’t be there because they’re suddenly gone from the world).
Determined to be grateful for what we have, but keep tearing up for the ones we’ve lost and the heartbreak of the ones who were closest to them.
Moderator R says
I’m so sorry for your losses Steph ❤️
I am so sorry. It sounds like the anxiety is just terrible. Fingers crossed for nothing else bad happening.
I can so relate and send very supportive hugs and positive winds of change your way. I will tell you that life does better even when things get bumpy.
Small joys like reading & reading books by my fav authors for example help me through troubled times. I love sharing favorite parts with fellow readers:)
Here is some of the dark times I have survived:
At age 18, I lost my beloved maternal grandfather to bone cancer. At age 22, I lost my maternal grandmother to pancreatic cancer. Two weeks after her burial, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and she died about 6 months later. A year later, my cousin died in a plane crash. A few months later, my beloved dog died. A year later my maternal great aunt was diagnosed with cancer. They said they told me she was sick but I saw her after she’d lost weight and her hair, I was shocked and didn’t understand why no one told me. Apparently, I blocked news of her illness from my mind.
For many years afterward, I really felt like the worlds biggest bad luck charm. I felt like I always arrived at the end of something good – like my college was good and then soon after, some changes were made and it went downhill. I took a job and within a year, it was sold and all that made it a good place to work changed. Then I got chemical injury which caused permanent intolerances to many chemicals, like those in most fragrance products (a serious quality of life bummer), and so on. Now our democracy is at the end 🙄.
Yes, these feelings still haunt me and counseling helped me a lot. I know now that even the tiniest happiness is possible no matter what the circumstance and I am allowed to set aside my worries to enjoy that feeling.
I wish you all the best,
Jan parks says
This year is a family trip to colorado. We were hoping for snow, but no, of course not. Right now its 82 degrees and has never felt less like Christmas. But you know what, no presents( what a relief) just family together enjoying the outdoors. I did minimal decorating, and just let it go. Its time to enjoy the family and not the pressure to buy, bake and also to enjoy the people you actually care about.
“Take this time to do things that soothe your soul. Protect your holiday, whatever it may be. There is no guilt. There are no expectations. Because all of us could use a break.” 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 Brava!
P.S. I visited Miss Babs’ and Fiber for the People websites today. Merry Christmas to me! 😁
Oh, your poor wallet.
As we’ve gotten older, we’ve changed what we do about gifts. Other than the youngest nephew who’s still going for his PhD, the rest of us are all in well paying jobs so we figure if we want something, we’ll buy it ourselves instead of putting it on a Christmas list. Haven’t asked my siblings, but hopefully they’re contributing to charities like me in lieu of buying each other gifts.
Last year — no, two years ago since we spent last spread apart due to COVID — we did a family version of a White Elephant exchange. This year, we all decided to pick, plan, and pay for an activity for the group instead of buying presents. One brother is paying for an hour at a dog park that has a bar and special events, I think. Another brother and his wife are setting up a visit to either a distillery or vineyard, can’t remember which. Don’t know what the other brother and nephews have planned. I decided to set up a family bingo night, so I bought a bingo set and we’re going to play for prizes, with the grand prize being an Oculus 2.And as usual, we’ll watch a lot of movies and play a lot of poker and euchre.
And hopefully Texas won’t go through another deep freeze event while we’re there.
“the rest of us are all in well paying jobs so we figure if we want something, we’ll buy it ourselves instead of putting it on a Christmas list.”
I’m definitely suggesting that for the next (extended) family Christmas. Presents for the kids, and stocking stuffers for the adults, and quit. And I especially love that idea of gifting experiences rather than things!
We decorated our house with tons of lights and it makes me so happy to see that colorful glow all over our abode. The neighbors have also decorated with lights so driving down our block is magical. A few blocks away one house has a giant Rudolph standing in the driveway and another has their glowing red-eyed dragons from Halloween dressed as demonic Santas frolicking with snowmen and angels. It’s hilarious.
At the same time it’s hard to be cheerful with all the hardship across the USA and watching the rest of the world in turmoil too. We stopped the massive gift buying years ago when our kids became teens and everyone chooses a charity or organization to donate what we would have spent on gifts. My motto is “Think globally. Act locally”.
I wish all of you a safe, healthy and happy holiday. I’m spending it alone for the first time in years and I’m going to cook, eat, read and drink adult beverages.🙏
Patricia Schlorke says
I agree with making the holidays your own. I didn’t put up my tree this year since I didn’t feel like putting it up. I did put out my Peanuts Christmas pageant nativity set. It makes me smile.
I’m cooking for myself on Christmas Eve. I’m roasting a whole beef tenderloin. I’m still deciding on the sides. Yum!
Sometimes I lose faith in humanity, but your blog always reminds me that there *are* wonderful people in the world.
We have lots of bad stuff now like so many others.
BUT I am still excited for Christmas because I always gift my husband, my daughter, and myself with a “Blanding’s Turtle Adoption” from our local forest preserve. The adoption lets you name your turtle about whom you get updates any time they are spotted in the wild, even years later. We spend all day on Christmas randomly shouting out potential names and then make a final decision that night before bed. It’s a fun family activity, although I think I would enjoy it by myself, too.
We are a family of readers and spend the day reading, just spreading out a “Yule Board” of yummy food midday that we all nosh on over our books, sometimes even in the same room!
It’s not the Christmas I had as a kid, which was big and bustly and loud and full of many, many family members. It’s much better than that.
What were some of the past turtle names? Any House Andrews’ characters make an appearance? 😉
So far all Star Trek themed- you know, “To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations.” Appropriate for turtles being released to wild, to our minds.
This year I am going to propose we contemplate beginning a Dr. Who theme (Mad Turtle in a Box?), but that will probably be for next year since we don’t have Spock yet (“Has it occurred to you that there is a certain… inefficiency in constantly questioning me on things you’ve already made up your mind about?”).
But there will be MANY suggestions. Who (hah!) knows what we’ll choose.
So cool! I always thought those were the most beautiful turtles (being one of those kids who mainly read field guides for a good chunk of my elementary school years) but we don’t have them around here.
I’m sorry to say I dread Thanksgiving, Christmas, & New Year. I always feel like I get visited by un-Santa who delivers a sack load of unrealistic expectations, money stress, grief, amplified loneliness, and memories of past hurts.
Since I acquired fragrance & other chemical intolerances over a decade ago, I can no longer comfortably celebrate the holidays or other get- togethers with anyone because people get offended over switching out strongly scented products for a day. However, after everyone is finished shaming me for the things I can’t do, I can peacefully sit in front of the TV or read a book while enjoying whatever meal I choose.
My favorite childhood memories of Christmas were of my brother and me gift-snooping, helping bake with the women in my family (I can still smell the holiday spices they used and see their flour-spattered faces & clothes), and of my uncles loudly acting like kids after commandeering the fun toys gifted to my brother:)
Some close friends sponsored sea turtles every years as they were mating. I should see what’s going on with that, now that I’m not broke, and some of my research focuses on sea turtles.
(It was a ton of fun… and then a relative of one of the participants through some kind of fit about the sea turtle posts on her page. After which it became even more fun, as we all conspired to post even more sea turtle content.)
I loved the decorations, and lights, and singing. And as a kid, the presents. (Okay, I still love presents, but I enjoy giving a lot more than getting now.) And I have a few wonderful memories – gathering at my grandfather’s house. The time my father brought home a Polish grad student who was missing his family and had nowhere else to go. Singing carols and lighting candles on the tree at my oldest friends’ house.
In my teens, I started having longest night parties. (To be fair, as a kid it amazed me that the solstices and equinoxes weren’t official holidays.) And for the next twenty years, that was increasingly the big community holiday (though often also family), and then I’d have a small Xmas with the family. (This was somewhat disrupted when we cancelled Xmas because my mom couldn’t stop making up shit and screaming at my sister for hours on end about how she ruined Xmas for everyone. Including when my sister hosted and did most of the cooking.)
But my sister kept doing Xmas with her son, and his embrace of traditions delights both of us. (And his eagerness to share them with his girlfriend even more. He’s been contacting me a bunch, in my role as the keeper of the family recipes.)
There’s a lot up in the air at the moment. We’re all vaxxed and boosted (well, the youngers might not be boosted yet…) I have tickets to fly to Seattle. My sister has tickets to fly to Mexico. It’s not entirely certain either trip will happen. So we’re planning Xmas morning and stocking and eggs benedict… and watching the numbers and who knows? (The nephew and I are collaborating on stocking stuffers for my sister and her guy, since stockings have generally been her thing.)
Meanwhile, I taught a friend through the department how to spin, and she brought back fiber advent calendar from Germany for both of us, which has been delightful. (Also, she recently was given a wheel by a music friend, so now my loaner wheel is back and we’re looking for another inductee. Hehehe…) This has been festive and fun, and I love my beeswax candles, and my lime tree with its baby limes. Another friend and I are going to get pedicures together on the solstice, followed by food and a trip to the beverage district. And I’m spinning ridiculous amounts of lace weight for my sister… (I got her to dye the roving when she was last here, so it’s a fun project, but OMG, I will be spinning it forever. Fiber goes very far when it’s lace weight.) Tomorrow I make old fashioned sticky gingerbread for our lab (distanced, though we’re all vaxxed) watching of Die Hard.
So, we’ll see how it plays out. Maybe I’ll travel, maybe I’ll send packages and zoom. (And if so the packages will be late, because I haven’t sent them yet. Well, the dinosaur onesie for my sister was a birthday present, and the microwave for the nephew and his gf was early because they needed it – it’s mostly little stuff now.) Seattle is omicron central right now. Long days with my cats and a lot of phone calls wouldn’t be the worst, either. Though I miss having people to cook for.
Eesh… I swear, it really didn’t seem that long? And did the fiber picture not go through?
Moderator R says
The picture unfortunately did not come through, there is a 1 MB limit for uploads. maybe if you take a snapshot of it and try again? 🙂
I scaled it down to 184 KiB first, but it might have been an issue with my somewhat over the top security on my browser. Switching over to a less locked down one…
Oooo, love that green one in the second row. Beautiful colors.
Right?! That’s the one I’m really thinking of placing an order (to Germany) to get more of. That emerald and copper thing is just gorgeous.
… and I usually dye my own.
OOOH! ! I spin lace weight too, mostly on a top whorl drop spindle. But the Ashford Joy can do it too. Right now I’m switching between yak/bombyx and baby camel/tussah.
No close family in the state so going to look at lights with close (in bubble) friends then fondue on Christmas eve. Then drive down to Brad’s sisters for the christmas dinner and jigsaw puzzle extravaganza. Hope the rain holds off until we get back home.
My relationship with Christmas is complicated. I loved it once and I’m learning to love it again. While last year wasn’t as good as the year before it was a happy time.
2019 was the best Christmas of my life. It was the first Christmas I spent with my boyfriend’s family and it was everything you hope Christmas is. So much food, supper was served early in the afternoon and even when dessert was served later that evening I still wasn’t hungry (but nothing was keeping me from those brownies). It was the most relaxed and content I had ever been at Christmas.
2020 was smaller, just our little family unit instead of my boyfriend’s parents, sisters and their families. But we made ham because I don’t care for turkey, I got his sister’s stuffing recipe and it turned out good. We put our Christmas tree up in the middle of the living room because there was no where else for it and it was fun. There was a video call with his family, I phoned/messaged mine and we played video games somewhere in the middle.
2020 didn’t have the same zing as 2019. But it was a happy time and this year will be much of the same. I’m more than okay with that and for the first time since I was a young child I’m looking forward to Christmas.
Julie Flickinger says
Happy Holidays to all!
April White says
Thank you. It’s a good reminder that happiness is what you make it not a “set” tradition.
Is it possible to join the zoom chat at the last minute? I don’t want to take a slot because I may have a conflict, but I won’t know until about two hours before the chat
(sister wanting to do stuff together wins except she has a new grandbaby and may be otherwise occupied)
Moderator R says
Hi Kate, we will repost a reminder on Saturday for last minute joiners, but we have extended number of attendees so if you can, sign up now 🙂
No plans yet for Christmas. I still have ten days….
Family gathering on December 26th, was Zoom last year, but with the new covid variant, the in-person/Zoom hybrid event may become all Zoom again.
Hoping to get the cards out next week.
Perhaps a repeat of Thanksgiving: a good movie and pie. Everything else is still in flux.
Deborah Majo says
Beautifully said. Thank you.
This will be the first Christmas and birthday since my Dad died. (My birthday is 12/26). My mother is coping the best she can but what would have been their 62 anniversary is also coming up and she has been dreading December. My brother and his wife were supposed to be visiting from Morocco but that is no longer the case since the Morocco airport is closed until the new year. My sister, her husband and her younger son were supposed to go to Morocco to see their son, daughter in law and grandson but could not go. I will be with my Mom on the 24th, 25th and 26th. We are going to another sister’s for Christmas dinner but I think it will be hard for us. I am not sure what I want to do except sleep.
I hope you all have a peaceful holiday.
I’m a bit stressed sbout Christmas.
We are going home. My parents and in laws are vaccinated. Most of my siblings and adult nieces and nephews are not. I am trying to decide how wise it is to spend several hours with 12 unvaccinated people in a small house. Various vaccinated family (who will not be at this party) are still immunocompromised and how much do I risk them as we are staying at their home. Honestly, it’s been a very difficult few months – everything from my teen loosing an friend to suicide to my oldest having an infected wisdom tooth at the end her semester wrecking havoc on her finals. I just don’t want the drama or stress.
Moderator R says
I hope whatever you chose will be filled with joy!
I am so sorry. Suicide of a friend is very difficult. Our children went through that and it left lasting scars.
::hug:: I hope for all of the joy and peace for you and your family this holiday season.
Patricia Schlorke says
Lots of hugs to you, Lisa. I know what your teen is going through. I had a friend who killed herself a long time ago because her parents did not accept her boyfriend at the time. My friend was very much in love with her boyfriend, but her dad wanted her under his thumb. My friend’s mom told my mom what happened. My mom told me. After she told me I was in shock and felt like a boomerang hit me.
When I think of my friend, I shake my head because she had a good life ahead of her. It’s very sad. 🙁
Years ago my Mom and I realized that, for us, the best part of the holidays are the decorations. That is where we spend any money, but we have so much stuff left over from years before when we had a crafting business that we need very little (usually just lights which we buy right after Xmas to get the sale). The last few years as my Mom’s health has been going down hill we have started to simplify our decorating, but this year I took over and started way before Thanksgiving and went all out. So pretty! And with all the extra lights it really brightens these long nights. We will leave it all up until we get tired of it and feel up to the task of putting it all away.
Peace and blessings to all….. and to all a good night! Thank you for your words of wisdom. I hope you and your family enjoy the day and that you have a restful enjoyable Christmas!
Judy Schultheis says
This coming weekend, the offspring are going to Los Angeles to see relatives they haven’t seen in three years. I’m staying home. For two weeks, I get the car and can go where I want, when I want, without considering anybody else’s schedule!
Next week, I’m going to visit my BDH friend who lives a couple miles from me to deliver her Christmas present (she’s getting the Louisa Preissler calendar – I do have my Edward Gorey one after all) and whatever I come up with for her sister, who is harder to shop for. The only other certainty is that rather than ribbons, the wrapped packages will be decorated with sparkle-ball cat toys.
On Christmas Eve, I will turn on my radio to the local classical station and listen to whatever they play for the two days. And the Christmas duck and the sweet potato pie are mine, all mine!
When we were only married about 5 years, on Dec 18 my husband was given 18 hours notice he was deploying. We were living in a foreign country and I was going to be alone for the first time during Christmas. We celebrated Christmas that night after we packed his TA50. The next few days weren’t as rough as they could have been thanks to families of the heart.
Thank you. This Christmas is the second without my mom, and I had thought the pain would be gone. Instead, it ambushes me at moments I least expect it.
We will make the 15-hour drive to the TX Hill Country and spend ten days there, with a 3-day run to Portland to see son #2.
I am not looking forward to it. Too much family drama, not enough quiet time, and too many expectations. I miss the days of living overseas, too far away to make the trip.
All that aside–I am going to take your words of wisdom to heart. I will find the peace, dance with the joy, and take time to simply be.
Thanks. May peace bless you all!
Well, at least the weather should favor the trip. We are supposed to be dry and in mid seventies for the Christmas week.
Starting this year, we’re switching to donating to each other’s chosen charities instead of giving and getting presents as we’re all fortunate to have more than enough “stuff “.
Find your happy everyone! 🤗
I just want to thank the Andrews for giving us this space to just be and just say… it’s been a hard year on the world…
But yes to overcoming woes and heavy hearts and to be JOYFUL. I will do my best and thanks again for this positive message. You guys are great!
To ALL of YOU
Mmmm, Christmases were always magical. Mostly the excitement from the decorations and music, then the holiday TV specials and dressing up for events and church. Special shopping/lunch trips with my mom to the big city. Also, everything closed down for the big holidays. EVERYTHING. So there was the excitement of do we have enough to pull through everything closed for one whole day??!
Midnight mass with all the singing – so special. Then (when I was a kid) big early dinners with my family. I am at the tail end of a big family, so whosever’s house hosting it was FULL and we set up tables in every room. We had cousins to play with and listened to the grown ups gossip. I miss that so much now. Too many family members are no longer with us.
I am all for the celebrate your way. I have always had some kind of tree and am used to owning what I want to celebrate. This year my special celebration is two hours out to listen to beautiful music that takes me back to those shiny Christmas years. I am taking it easy on decorating this year, because it feels good. I want to get back to things like baking and sharing stories.
I hope you enjoy some peace and delight.
Sharon Fletcher says
You did a great job making your own fun as a child, and you are still doing that. I admire that talent.
I do all the cooking and cleaning for groups, but I enjoy that. At my home I listen to family and friends having fun as I set up and clean up, and I feel like I am creating that environment for them. At church and school functions I am in the background, making coffee, refilling stuff, bringing brownies, and watching for stray people who might be needing a sympathetic ear, or friendly chatter.
That is as close as I get to creating fun. I nurture and encourage. I don’t play.
But reading is my escape and you have been a huge help in that regard. For that I wish you the merriest Christmas, happy holidays, and a wonderful new year.
Akeru Joyden says
This year has been hell on wheels that are on fire at the top of Mt. Everest in a blinding snowstorm of frozen and flammable jet fuel while a choir of demons sings hymns of your impending demise after burning alive.
So… I bought myself a new set of silverware. This promptly shifted the balance back into hellish territory and decreased the threshold of impending disaster to the point that less than 24 hours later my HVAC (less than 6 years old) decided that having had 4 power outages this quarter it was time to go on the fritz again.
Time for a whole house surge protector, if my landlord can even get an electrician here before Christmas!
Thank you, Ilona and Gordon. A great sentiment.
I made the tough decision some weeks ago that I would not travel from California to Texas for Christmas with the family, and that makes me a bit sad, but won’t stop me from enjoying the holiday.
Christmas will be tamales from this great place I found, beans, and Mexican rice I make myself (tamales are beyond me but I do the beans and rice quite well). The week between Christmas and New Year’s will be fun with local friends (including a movie night for a certain new release also available on streaming) during the days leading up to New Year’s.
I hope everyone is able to find their peace and joy during these holidays.
Mikhail Vapnik says
Reading this as I eat my Olivier salad. Almost LOLed it right out.
Maryann Dreiling says
Thanks for the uplifting comments…! We all need to have some happiness direction. Keep up the good work.
I busted a tap yesterday and cried because my dad is 1000km away and I won’t see him soon enough for him to fix it.
I pulled on my big girl pants and bought a new tap. It took less than 10 minutes and a YouTube video to fix it myself and now I realise that spending an hour doing little DIY fixes with my dad is just his way of connecting.
Holidays can be a great time of year, but sometimes it is the little moments we take to connect and appreciate each other that are simply magic.
Sorry I don’t do zoom but have fun. As in I have never zoomed.
Brown Carrie says
Happy holidays everyone!
Claire M says
Much love to you all. I needed to read that today. Here’s to a safe, healthy, happy in whatever form that works for you, holiday season.
Wow… I hope I can paraphrase you when I send my holiday wishes on social media for my City’s Park & Rec department.
So weird, I think often of that time my bubble burst too at age 12. No one called us down to open presents Christmas morning. When I finally came downstairs late in the day, there was nothing underneath the tree. There was no gift giving ritual. I think the day might’ve been saved by dinner with the cousins.
It wasn’t until years later when I was told that my mom’s father had committed suicide that year, same year my dad asked her for a divorce. My parents probably had a fight recently. She was so angry and sick during that time. She was taken from us in her sleep 2 years ago at age 68. She didn’t have an easy life, but she died peacefully and is at rest now, and all the aunts and cousins have been a great comfort. Take comfort where you can, wherever you are.
Katie R says
We had a horrible tragedy at Christmas time six years ago. I find I still enjoy the holiday, especially if I can keep busy. That was hard last year, but we’re traveling this year so I’ll be distracted. I am thankful for a lot of things in my life and I try to focus on those.
Coincidentally, while the tragic event was unfolding in 2015, I was in the middle of a Kate Daniels series reread. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated having those books on my Kindle to get back to after hours spent driving between two different hospitals and the meetings with doctors and siblings to discuss terminating life support for our mom. It may seem strange that a book series set in post-apocalyptic Atlanta with fighting and monsters and good vs evil would be comforting, but it really was.
Mary-Anne Goss says
Living in Australia, its generally a long way to go do anything. So for Christmas this year, we will decorate the tree out the front, now its grown big enought. Will also have my handicapped brother staying with us, and he is looking forward to the local towns Christmas eve children’s party. We have a ball with the kids, and they get worn out and are usually snoring by the time they get carried to a car, much to their parents delight. The bad news is that its likely to be a right stinker on Xmas day, over most of Australia, no change out of 40 degree plus. Apart from that I wish every one a happy and safe christmas, and may you all enjoy it as you see fit.
Patricia Schlorke says
I wonder if Texas is now part of the Southern Hemisphere. Our weather is on par with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and any other country south of the equator. We do get “cold”, but it’s what our normal temperature is suppose to be for this time of year. However, we go right back up in our temps. 🙂
For Christmas, at least in the DFW area, it’s suppose to hit 70 degrees (F) on Christmas Eve, and 71 degrees (F) on Christmas day.
Angelika Monkberg says
Wish you all the best
I am in the last month of my second pregnancy and I have one goal: to put up a Christmas tree for my 2 year old son.
I love Christmas and I want to give him the same joy I always had with Christmas when I was a small child and the tree was suddenly magically there and decorated the morning of Christmas eve when it had not been there the night before and the Christ child magically brought presents when we were playing upstairs and we only heard the chime of the bell and knew it had been there.
My parents put so much effort in Christmas eve and I will do the same for my children. I am so looking forward to seing his beautiful, little face lit up with wonder and joy
Moderator R says
Good luck Stefanie!
Patricia B. says
The two best Christmases I spent where those I chose not to go home to the family (6 hr train ride away). Four glorious days spent in flannel pyjamas and warm fuzzy socks. Reading books, listening to Christmas music, watching holiday movies and eating my favorite treats. No drama, no one to clean up after and no guilt whatsoever.
Happy Holidays and Hugs to all. Wishing everyone the break that they need. Whatever form that takes.
My Mom loved Christmas. The presents, the decorations, everything about it, she loved. She died in 2017. She was 79. My Mom died on January 6th, which is the 12th day of Christmas, or the epiphany. Christmas died with her for me. I don’t put up any decorations, and send no Christmas cards. I can’t help it. I just don’t feel it anymore.
I’m sorry to read that. Part of it sounds familiar to what I experienced when my gran died this year. It was the 2nd of January and I immedately put away all the Christmas decorations. Christmas was officially over for me. I still put them up again this year. I like them and my gran wouldn’t have wanted it. She was more the type who hoped for me to keep the traditions. I fear Christmas itself anyway. But I hope you will be able to feel it again. Maybe try just a tiny bit of decoration…only for yourself. A little light….maybe it helps. Have a miraculous Christmas!
Your writing, web site and blog bring light an joy. Thank You.
What a wonderful gift you’ve given us. Thank you!
Happy holidays and may 2022 be bright!
Something I’m enjoying right now is this woman’s YouTube channel.
She’s into stage fighting and gets into the nitty gritty on the ways fights can advance the plot, show worldbuilding, etc. Mostly movies and TV but she also did one for the first Jim Butcher novel.
I enjoy the detailed view into what is happening, as I don’t know anything about fighting and would just have a general good or confused feeling usually.
Basically I’m mostly in my head and she’s helping me learn how the physical can also help tell the story.
I also enjoy the the discussions of the flirty fights 😊.
Watching the videos makes me happy, so I share the channel with you all.
Thank you for sharing!
Happy Holidays House Andrews!! I appreciate you and thank you for all that you do for all of us – wishing you peace and joy!
Thank you so much for your words, your shared memories (especially the painful ones) and how you dealt with them.
I especially want to thank you for giving us “permission” to feel this way and to give us the right to celebrate our way and do something for ourselves “guilt free”. I don’t know why we as humans have to feel the need for permission, even from someone we may have never met or even a total stranger in a store, to do what is right for ourselves, but many of us do. I do / did. Reading your post today had a profound effect on me and I thank you.
1.000 pounds just slid off my back and the relief is huge.
I am glad your dad and step mom only had mild cases. Why parents hide these things from us (to protect us, I “know”)?? Only stresses me out because then I wonder: “what else haven’t you told me?” Then they get all confused when I get suspicious about “little” things? Hahahaha.
May your day and week be filled with Blessings and relief and the Joy of Love surround you. You both just gave us a huge gift. My hope is your receive it back 10 fold.
Ray Craine says
My family, like so many others is scattered. One of my sisters just moved back to the area recently and has her 4 daughters coming for Christmas. With that in mind we had planned to have a Christmas party at a local restaurant that can handle a party this large (30). Just The other day we conferred an decided to wait until spring because of the latest outbreaks. No one was upset, it’s just another version of last year and why take a chance?
My wife and I got lucky this year, it’s a year of milestone birthdays (65 & 60) as well as another anniversary (30 years together) so we planned and took a vacation to the Caribbean and then went to NYC for a long weekend full of dinners and plays. This was our Christmas presents to each other. Just a month later, I’d be afraid to try this again.
Everyone, please have as wonderful a holiday season as you possibly can.
To the Andrews Clan, Thank you for all you do for us and have a safe and healthy
Christmas and New Years.
i decided a few years ago i would make lasagna for Christmas. I’m part italian but we always had Ham growing up, and my husband doesn’t like Ham, and I’m all turkey’d out by then. But since there’s the two of us i make it in Loaf pans, and freeze one for our Anniversary in January and One for Easter, since he still doesn’t like ham. I like doing this and I get Lasagna at least three times a year 🙂
As long as i have a good book and a craft project to work on, i’m set for the holidays.
This is the first time I am not excited about Christmas. Last year was sad because I couldn’t go home to my family in Romania but at least I got to spend Christmas in Lofoten with my fiance and his family (who are absolutely amazing). This year I was supposed to go home, my fiance to his parents and our two cats at a fancy cat hotel. Well, Norway got hit with one of the worst waves of Covid ever, one of our cats got sick (with feline covid which is very ironic) and has to be kept home and in a stress free environment which means one of us has to stay home with them because they are so needy they expire when they do not get attention for a few hours.
No clue if I am able to fly home next week but fiance has decided to stay home anyway. This means it may be that he will spend Christmas by himself and I will have to cut my trip short.
My family is upset because I am only staying 5 days instead of 10, his family is upset because they don’t get to see him this Christmas, I feel guilty for leaving him alone and worried about travelling, he feels guilty because his siblings are planning on staying home for Christmas Eve and his parents might be alone. The only ones that are happy about this entire thing are the cats who get to spend all the time with fiance and destroy the tree as much as they want.
So yeah, wish I could cancel Christmas and hole up in my room with a book and a bottle of wine, free from Eastern European family guilt.
That’s just an impossible situation all round 🙁 Wishing you well!
Well at least all the humans are equally unhappy. Fairness, yay.
Thank you, I really appreciate your kind words 🙂
Thank you for that lovely article. I seem to relive that part of the magic Christmas bubble popping…at 36 it’s rather later than for some of us. To me Christmas was that Magic time when my family from my mum’s side all came together. Of course it changed through the years…but always in such a way that we kept the traditions. My favourite part as a grown-up was meeting with my two cousins on the 23rd having a girls night. Just us together, chatting, eating delicious stuff and watching our favourite fairy tale film (I only watch it this once a year to keep the magic!). The next day we’d have breakfast together and go to my grandparents where we would prepare the Kloßteig (traditional German potato dumplings)for the big family party on the 25th, decorating my grandparents Christmas Tree, because that’s where we were allowed to do it as we please….very colourfull and with lots of lametta. All the while chatting, singing Christmas songs and laughing…and having a cup of hot duck broth (so yummy!). We tidied up behind us of course…work was so easy when we did it together. I usually work on Holy Night…because I’m fine with it. And if I am free (every two years) I enjoy Christmas Day with my mum’s side of the family. Almost all my cousins (I am an only child, I love my cousins since like forever and probably always will), aunts and uncles, my mum…a big group, traditional lovely food which every one prepared a part of and then just spending time together. This truly was a holy time for me.
But time changes. My two cousins are both young mothers now…there is no 23rd girls night anymore. They don’t really have time to make the Kloßteig the next day either. I would do it by myself, that’s ok, I still love the tradition…but family decided it wasn’t necessary, they prefer to buy ready made dough. It’s not the only tradition that goes missing, but it’s the one that hurts the most. I also struggle with my gran’s death at the very beginning of the year due to Corona. She might have even caught it from me.
I decorated my flat and love my Advent Calender…but I am scared of Christmas itself and feel to sulky to spend it with my family…but not doing so wouldn’t make me happy either. Everything changed, only I am somehow stuck in my head I guess. My magic Christmas bubble popped and I haven’t found a new one yet. The only part of Christmas I am looking forward to is actually spending Holy Night working again. I work in a home for people with mental disabilities…maybe I can save some of their Magic Christmas bubbles.
I haven’t felt “Christmasy” since my parents, oldest sister and nephew passed away, relatively closely together and two of my 3 remaining siblings moved away and we are no longer close enough to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day together. Since 2010, it’s been just me, hubby and our 3 kids. They’re now 26, 21 and 18. My 21 year old is going to Uruguay tomorrow, to spend the holidays with her online boyfriend and his family– this, despite the Canadian government issuing a non-essential travel advisory yesterday. The thing is, I think it is essential for her mental health that she travel. She’s been in an online relationship with this young man for 3 years and the longing to see each other in person is very strong. He was going to come here in January, but Canada doesn’t allow people with Sinovac vaccines to come here and that was the only vaccine Uruguay could get. They have Pfizer for the younger people now and for boosters, but it doesn’t help his situation. So, she won’t be here, I’ll worry about her constantly– even though my husband and I have met her boyfriend and his parents online and thought they were lovely people– but it’s such a long way from southern Ontario and her travel has long layovers. We won’t be there to support and protect her as parents want to do. Still, we’ll celebrate as we normally do, with Christmas Eve hot chocolate and scones with cream and jam, gifts in the morning and our big dinner. It won’t be the same, but I’m trying to remember that at least the rest of us are together and healthy and that we have much to be grateful for, given what others are going through in the world. I wish everyone the best holiday celebrations they can possible have and really hope the New Year brings good news on all fronts.
I love this post. Thank you for making it and giving it to us.
No! Registration to the vampires chat is closed!
Moderator R says
Hey Debra, unfortunately even after extending the limit twice, the demand exceeded available spaces.
We will share highlights with everyone 🙂
Thank you for this post. I just ordered Legos 10281, Bonsai Tree, for my 80th birthday on 12/29 because Why Not! Good wishes to all.
Good on you! Enjoy 😊
Wishing you an early Happy Birthday!!! My husbands’ birthday is also New Years Day. He is very use to the Marry Christmas, Happy New Year and PS Happy Birthday. He was the 1st baby born that year and that was the year they no longer gave out gifts to the 1st baby. Every year for the 40 that we have been married, I always wish him Happy Birthdy before the Happy New Year. I also cook him his favorite meal. Primerib, baked potatoe and popovers. No cake because he perfers pie. So with that said, I’m wishing you a Very Happy Birthday!!!
Chat? What Chat? What chapter? OMG please don’t let if be full.
Oh. That chat. This Saturday.
I already registered for that.
Amen Sister 🙂 I am lucky enough that my hubby and kids help do the dishes after the dinner that I spend all day cooking and I get to sit back with a glass (or 2) of wine and relax.
Happy Holidays to all.
Paulette M Smith says
Thank you for this post. My conversation with my family this morning shows just how much the holidays have passed us all by this year. Sometimes it’s hard to focus on our blessings when you lose so much in a short period of time. Your words are appreciated. Happy holidays to the house of Andrews and Mod Rs family.
Thank you for the perspective. I hope your dad and his wife make a full recovery.
My dad’s dying of lung cancer, so this will very likely be his last Christmas. I’m isolating, so I can join him and Mom for the holidays. My brother and his family won’t be able to join us, which is sad, but the silver lining is that I’ll get lots of time with my parents ♥️
Wishing House Andrews and fellow members of the BDH a very Merry Christmas!!
Moderator R says
I’m so sorry, Claudia. I hope you have a beautiful Christmas with your parents ❤️
Thank you for the kind words, Mod R. Likewise wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas ❤️
My husbands family is a little put out with me this year. We didn’t go to the huge family gathering last year – Covid. This year I have opted out of going because I am the only IT admin support for an application at work (my co-admin retired, bless him) and the 25th is the only day during the holiday season I stand a chance of NOT getting a call for tech support. All regions have the 25th of December off, Brazil, North America, India and Australia (granted my 25th is Aus 26th but they leave me alone on Sundays unless the world is at a standstill).
So I am pulling the blankets over my head and catching up on my reading and bingeing movies. Junk food will be on the menu. I am going to enjoy the peace.
Liz Greene says
Thanks HA! Couldn’t agree more. Holidays are so complicated for so many reasons and they really aren’t happy for everyone – but we can each make choices about what will fill our souls and act on that. Sometimes you have to create new traditions.
Johanna J says
Christmas here will be quiet but good. Wishing House Andrews, Mod R, and everyone a good Christmas as well (despite everything life has thrown in our way).
Doris Gray says
**Take this time to do things that soothe your soul. Protect your holiday, whatever it may be. There is no guilt. There are no expectations. Because all of us could use a break.
Pollyanna R Hopson says
I so agree! I’m a Christian, so I like to keep Christ in my thoughts at this time,. But Christmas and Thanksgiving, too, aren’t about being”perfect”. They are about Love. You can’t spread love unless you love yourself. Be there for yourself self, too.
We still do Christmas and New Years (though this is the second year we will miss going to the Melodrama’s Christmas Carol and Extravaganza). I also have friends that celebrate Ursus. Ursus is when you can retreat into your den with a good book, good nibbles, and curl up reading. It runs from the first of December to the end of 12th Night. It allows you to do self care and recharge. You can still go out, but you don’t *have* to do all the things or feel guilty if you don’t.
What about those of us who do not have zoom? Or any kind of camera for the computer? What do we get for a first chapter?
Moderator R says
1. Zoom is free to download. Here is a helpful instruction article on attending a webinar, since there seems to be some confusion 🙂 https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/115004954946-Joining-and-participating-in-a-webinar . I hope it will help.
2. You do not need a camera, as you are not part of the panel, only watching it 🙂. Zoom is also not predicated on being on camera.
3. The first chapter will be shared with everyone, as part of a blog serial, sometime in late December.
I hope this clears some things 🙂
Dawn Shreves says
Elena Lucas-Sprague says
May you be renewed and cheered by your holiday! Focusing on light brings more light, just as focusing on shadow reduces it… So celebrate the good things we have and the blessings in our lives and choose to uplift your hearts with that…
Thank you for all your books, stories, and sharing!
I asked all the family on the east coast to join me for Thanksgiving weekend. I explained that I would get the food but might need help cooking. Every one I asked came and helped with the cooking and in many cases brought their specialty. It was fun to have them all here. And everyone had leftovers to take home.
Everyone was vaccinated. I got to know the children and look forward to seeing them again soon.
For my family Christmas starts Thanksgiving day when my parents and grandparents were married and does not stop until the new year, Too many weddings and birthday to celebrate the month each season. I miss seeing all the family these days.
Steve lucas says
To me Christmas and other holidays is about family and being together. Gifts are for children, otherwise its about love and togetherness. And an awesome meal to share
Kat in NJ says
Thank you…gosh, you just have no idea how much I needed to hear this today. I love your stories as much as I love your books. They help me see that you go thru the same things we do, and the great wisdom and advice you share always helps more than you will ever know. Thank you! 💕
Thank you so much for this post. I love Christmas- all the lights, the food, the smells, the pageantry. Every single bit. I love the shopping and the wrapping, and Iikw to think I put together THE most special stocking.
But this year, work has been hell. I like what I do, but working 12+ hour days is wearing. I’m off the next few days, to celebrate the holidays with my mom and sisters and their families, but the work stress continues to plague me, even during down time. I’m sure I’ll get a few hundred emails while I’m out. Argh….
Susie Q. says
I was felling very glum about Christmas but after your blog and the BDH comments I am feeling better. I have been lucky, this is my first Christmas alone. My brother and sister-in-law are heading off to her son’s for their only grandchild’s first Christmas. I am thrilled for them but feeling a bit lonely for myself. We will have Christmas when they get back. My mom is in a nursing home with severe short term memory problems plus advanced senile dementia which has turned her into a suspicious and visious person.
After reading this, I’ve decided to really indulge myself for Christmas. I have an appointment to get my bones scanned on Chgristmas Eve. I’m going to get a really decadent dessert, steak, baked potato and asparagus. Lots of cookies, and spend Christmas reading and catching up on the soaps.
My best Christmas was when I was in grade school. We opened presents and then went over to my aunt and uncle’s house. I was brought over to a hutch just my size. My dad, a carpenter, made there instead of at home so it would be a surprise. I loved it, especially the fact that my dad made it for me.
I was whining to the dental assistant about getting a root canal then getting a new crown and all of a sudden I had a moment and said that I really shouldn’t be complaining as I was able to get all this dentistry done and not worry about it. It got me thinking as our oldest won’t be home for the first time and I am very sad about it, but she lives with my sister and her three kids. She will have a good time. I even made her a new stocking out of NHL Sharks material. We also have been doing more for my MIL as my FIL passed away this year. It will be very different for us this year, but we will get thru it. Plus there is always time to read when they watch their movies 😁
Thank you. Your blogs are many things; funny, uplifting, thought provoking, entertaining with a dash of reality thrown in occasionally. Reading your blog is a favorite part of my day. Thank you. May your birthday and holidays be exactly as you wish this year.
Breanna Parker says
Holiday for a musician usually entails 30 plus concerts all shoved into Dec 1-24. It’s fun but exhausting. I quickly learned that making a big dinner on Christmas made me grumpy. I asked my husband one year if he minded if we just did snacks and he loved the idea. Now the whole family goes grocery shopping and picks their favorite snacks for Christmas. Then it gets piled on the table on Christmas and we have a smorgasbord of drinks food and treats. It’s my kids favorite day.
Merry Christmas and thank you for the blog and your mad writing skills!
Retired the beginning of December, 74, single, short of family except for brother in Texas. Christmas =great childhood family memories. Now= a new book to be opened, holiday music, maybe a fave movie( Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood- yes, I know his rep, But it is Christmas), a yummy brunch followed by munching all day. Festive paper plates -Errol won’t tell! A walk thru the neighborhood before dark.Call my brother.
Probably doesn’t sound like Christmas to everybody, but some Christmas is available to most of us.
Hugs & Happy Holidays to Ilona, Gordon & their family! I’m not a fan of Christmas – too commercialized; but I do take the time to give thanks for my health & that of family & friends.
Thanks, all commenters.
I’m sitting here wondering whether my husband and I will at least be able to watch some Netflix on the couch and relax in harmony – as we haven’t done in a long time – or whether Christmas vacation will be plagued by ADHD rage meltdowns.
It’s kind of nice to see that we all have our myriad burdens to bear, and no, Christmas doesn’t magically work out if only you open your heart and let love in (as it always does in the movies!).
Bill from nj says
Christmas for me growing up was always magical, I loved the Christmas specials ( still do, Charley brown, Rudolph, the Grinch,you name it)Putting up a tree and decorating it.when I got older it became more of a chore, it went from being my family to being w relatives ( my dad’s side) on Christmas Eve and it was kind of a bummer. My wife and I enjoyed it ourselves, I remember fondly in our first apartment right out of school that first tree, decorated w cvs bought lights, and a lot of decorations we made.
The low was the year my son was born, 95. My mom died that year, the house we were living in was undergoing renovating and expansion, we had no kitchen during the holidays , and my birth family situation was bad,a lot of stress and my mil was living with us,too. We were both beaten down and literally at an ebb energy wise. If not for our son not sure we would have made it. The one good thing was after that I made a break w my birth family, it was hard but it needed to be done, they were and are toxic waste emotionally.
After that we created new traditions. Every year we went to a tree farm and cut a tree ( my son loved it, me using my own horribly dull saw, inevitably twisting my ankle dragging it to where they would take it to the front of the farm). We have the stump piece for all those years. Last year we did it,and it was typical Covid, for some reason the tree died like 3 days after I put it up. We ended up getting a beautiful artificial from Balsam Hill, so no live tree , prob ever,I miss that ( though my son hasn’t been part of it since 2012, after that was at school when we got the tree).
This year will be just the three of us,my son the peripatic musician, will be home the 23rd ( I was bettung the 25th,), and will fly to Reno for a music festival the 26th ( who knew Reno had a classical music series,?). Not a lot of time, but we will do our own thing, some years we did Chinese food on Christmas, this year will do semi traditional seafood on Christmas Eve and then our usual roast on Christmas day (we don’t eat meat much at all these days).
Happy Holidays to all,esp to the Andrews ,their kids and the various creatures in their world:)
Good for you for breaking from the toxic waste. Most of my family is great but my mom was extremely difficult, and I had to cut contact with her for a year on two separate occasions. After that she was a little more respectful of my boundaries. At one point during my dad’s final decline, I was the only one speaking to her, which my daughters found highly amusing.
I was going to lie low this year, because acting like everything is normal after the bomb went off in the family last month seems wrong. But a dear friend has invited me to Christmas lunch with her, her husband, and two friends, one of whom I know slightly. The friends know nothing about my family situation, and I won’t have to think about it at my friend’s house. I intend to stay a couple of hours and have a good time, then come home to my animals. It will be good, I think.
May we all have a great holiday (of your choice) we all need a break from the crazy year or two that we have lived through. Thanks Ilona and Gordon for making a bit easier. My last family member moved from TX last month so for the first in too many years to count I now have no ties to where I have always thought of as home no matter where I was. Have a great holiday
These blog posts bring me so much peace. Thank you for sharing the kindness.
Your description of growing up & the innocence of childhood melting away reminded me of the movie Belfast. Story from Kenneth Branaugh’s childhood.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to the Gordon home & the BDH 😊
Duh, I meant the Andrew’s home 🙄
Thanks for the awesome advice, especially during this crazy and uncertain time! Amazingly my birthday is also NewYear’s day, and being from the former Soviet Union, it’s so right on how much New Year’s Eve is a huge deal!
Jeanne Ferguson Turner says
My mom’s bday was Christmas day and my Dad’s was New Years Day! I’m the youngest of seven and we had huge gatherings on holidays and often unintentional big gatherings for Sunday dinners. My parents have both been gone for quite a while and our family has had a few deaths and we’ve spread far and wide. I miss those close times very much but try to celebrate whatever makes us smile. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Thanks for making lives brighter with your books.
I had to release my Christmas expectations this year.
My husband got the covid variant, like many, even though he was vaccinated, so his case is very mild. Most likely my actual Christmas day will be our small family out of a preponderance of caution. My husband is mostly recovered but still only a week into his quarantine. For years our family has made the biannual trek to see my family in another state. Usually, I am there on Christmas day. This year I just still hope to visit.
I have another friend who will likely spend Christmas sharing her time between two daughters one on hospice at home and another in the hospital. My heart breaks for her and her isolation due to hospital covid precautions.
This could be depressing, however, this will be the most unique Christmas to date. I will see my family, eventually. I will exchange gifts and see the reactions to those gifts, eventually. My friends daughter will come home, eventually. My husband will be negative, eventually.
This Christmas is about resiliency and finding joy in the small moments. My Christmas this year may stretch out over weeks as I find the opportunity to share Christmas with everyone, eventually. As long as I am here I have a choice on how life impacts me. I choose to embrace Christmas where I find it.