Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas confusion


When I was younger, say from age 18 to 22, Christmas was a bit of a production for me. I loved creating gifts and wrapping them as brown paper packages tied up with string. I'd make my own gift tags and ornaments to dangle from each individual box. I would make decorations and cover my house in holiday joy. I was ALL about it. But, when I was 23, that enthusiasm waned. That year, I moved to Ontario to complete my masters degree, and for Christmas, I flew home to Vancouver Island to spend the holiday with my parents – just the three of us. My sister and brother chose to stay in their new homes to spend the holidays with their partners. So, Christmas, just wasn't Christmas.

Wait. Let me go back a little further so this all of this makes a little more sense. The year I moved out and began my undergraduate degree, my parents bought a winter home in Arizona. So, they didn't come home for Christmas, nor did they for the next four Christmases. So, for those years, from the age of 18 to 22, I found my own way to celebrate, either with my partner's family or with friends. Basically, I learned to make my own Christmas, without the comfort of my childhood home, my childhood decorations and my family. And, to be honest, that was all good and well. I quite enjoyed it, in fact, because every Christmas was a little different.

Then, when I went home again all those years later and it was just my parents and I, and there was no tree up or decorations out (because my mom was suffering from horrible arthritis pain), the magic of Christmas died a little bit for me. I don't blame my parents for this. I'm sure I could have done more to bring out the Christmas cheer in them, but I didn't at the time. So, the following year, when Christmas came around and I was living in Yellowknife, I again made very little of it. (This is in part because Ian doesn't celebrate – he doesn't believe in Jesus and he's not into being forced to see his family, since he enjoys spending time with them already. Oh! And he's also not into consumerism and being forced to spend money on people...) So, that Christmas, Ian and two of my pals came over in the morning for a big breakfast and then we spent the day watching terrible movies. That night, we went to Ian's parents' house and had a lovely dinner with all of Ian's "orphaned" friends. I think that was definitely the best part of the whole day, since it actually felt a bit like Christmas.

That leads us to last year. My sister invited my entire family to spend Christmas at her house last year, but for one reason or another, I ended up being the only one to make the journey. So, I spent the holiday with her and her in laws. Don't get me wrong, it was lovely. But, again, it just wasn't Christmas. It wasn't quite right. I don't know how to explain it fully or even make sense of what I'm trying to say, really.

All I know is, between Ian being anti-Christmas and all of the wonkiness of previous years, I'm not as excited about Christmas as I used to be back in my late teens and early twenties. I don't want to be dramatic, but it bum me out that I'm not totally jazzed that the holidays are just around the corner. I wish I could go back to a place where I was excited to craft and create for the people I love. I wish I was chomping at the bit to wrap gifts and make tags and do Christmas baking. Sometimes I feel an urge, but then I wonder, well, who am I doing it for? Why decorate the house when I'm the only one who will enjoy it? Why do Christmas baking when I'm the only one who's going to eat it?

This Christmas, we're staying in Jasper and having a bit of a friend Christmas. (Ian wants nothing to do with it, aside from being there to cut down the tree and eat the turkey ... which he will likely cook.) Ian's best pal Maarty is a Christmas enthusiast, so he's demanding that Ian participate, but I'm not convinced that's going to work out. Anyway, along with Maarty, my friends Nicole and Amy will also be joining us. So far, the plan is to cut down a tree the weekend before, make turkey, drink mulled wine and just enjoy each other's company. I'm really hoping this cozy-style Christmas might spark the holiday spirit in me once again. I mean, if we have a tree, there will have to be decorations. And, if we're hosting, we'll have to have treats. So, I guess, in a way, having a few people at my house is my way of forcing myself back into the spirit. I'll let you know how it goes.

And, so concludes the rambling story that is my relationship with the holidays. If you have some surefire ways to perk me up, like slapping me across the face with some cedar boughs, please do give it a go! It couldn't hurt to try... or could it?


  1. I know how you feel, I really do. I'm the youngest in my family, my brother and sister and both married, have their own lives going on. My boyfriend's family has their own things starting to happen...Traditions have changed and other family members call the shots and the last few years I feel like all I can do is "tell me what day and time and I'll be there". It hasn't been the same and each year I feel a little more bummed about the holidays...

    I think it's okay though, people grow up, grow apart, things change, no matter what I always manage to be with my boyfriend and my mom and that's what matters to me most, days leading up to Christmas and actual Christmas Day consist of trying to get around to see everyone. I've chosen to not have children so my future may still be off with my man and I having our own holidays to ourselves, visiting who ever will have us.

    Just the last couple of days I've been getting 10 "reply to all" emails from family members figuring out a day to all get together and I have only replied once, basically just tell me when and I'll be there...

    I hope you can get some Christmas spirit burning under your butt, perhaps you will make a post in a few weeks saying how glad you are about your holiday plans and I can get in the mood too!

    Good luck to you and Happy Holidays no matter what, right? :)


    p.s. thanks for letting me ramble too.

  2. I think your plan for this year sounds lovely. I love going home and seeing all of my family, but part of me is starting to crave just a quiet, simple holiday doing what really matters. One of my surefire ways to feel the spirit is to burn tree (cedar, balsam, spruce) scented candles. The smell takes me right back to being a kid under the Christmas tree!

  3. Do your parents still come to AZ?? My grandparent's used to have a winter home down here and that's how I ended up moving to the desert because I would visit them and I loved that it was sunny in the winter :) I totally understand what you're saying- I don't like going back to Oregon for xmas because my parents are divorced and no one has the celebration I remember as a kid. I've just been working over the years to create our own tradition with my husband and his parents and some friends and just not put too much pressure on it. Some years I totally want to decorate and go crazy with creative wrapping- this year is not one of them :) Just not feeling it. Friend Christmas is really fun- I hope you enjoy yours!

  4. Oh Nicole! I totally understand where you're coming from. I think it is just the way holidays go when you get to your mid 20's-30's! This year is the first time I won't be going home for xmas and it will be extra quiet with just Fraser and I in our apartment in Victoria. No snow, no family, no family traditions. Fraser claims we will make it the best xmas ever - with lots of new traditions and festivities but that is yet to be seen (since he's still away on practicum). I think the key is to not get your hopes up too high and just enjoy the time off with friends!

  5. I am kind of a Grinch when it comes to all the Christmas hype. Sometimes I feel like I'm a "bad parent" for not giving Lucas all these cool traditions to look forward to, and making a big deal out of everything. But I think we will make our own non-Christmas traditions that suit our family much maybe going to Disneyland this year! WHEEE!!

    I wish I could have a friend Christmas! That would be so much AWESOMER!

  6. hey lady - first i must say i would get along with Ian smashingly! I don't believe in the "Jesus" stuff or commercialism that are ANY holidays.

    that being said tho - we still celebrate Christmas. I've always been a "giver". I love making things for people or getting that one special thing they randomly mentioned 8 months ago. I'm a fantastic gift giver. And it makes me really happy. every year i try to either make all my presents, or buy other handmade goods- or buy from small businesses - you won't see this gal buying plastic crappy toys at walmart haha my neices and nephews have always gotten educational "toys/gifts" this year im getting them a season pass to a local science museum. but anyway..enough of that.

    the mister and i both strongly feel that the holidays (any holiday) should be just about good food and good company (whether that be of the related or friend persuasion) so don't fall into the whole BS black friday nonsense of buying massive gifts and crap that no one needs..but you can still "celebrate" the feeling of christmas - that energy and purity..there is just a different feeling this time of year. i can't explain it. for years we havent had a tree or put up decorations .. i'd like that to change and go back to my full on celebrating (maybe next year when the renovations are done) so now that ive ranted and probably didn't make any sort of focuses comment at all.. i say make christmas what you and ian want it - not what it's turned into.

  7. This is the first year that I'm really into Christmas -- we travel so much over the holidays, usually, and I'm a big grump by the time we spend all that money and drive/fly all that way. Having the holiday in our own house is making me really excited, and I hope the same will hold true for you! Enjoy your Friendmas! ;)

  8. I completely understand, it's taken me awhile to properly get back into a Christmas spirit. My Aunt spent every Christmas with us for most of my childhood/early teens. She would fly in, and essentially take over our house. She decorated, and cooked, my god did she cook, and she even through a party. She through a big proper English (she's originally from London) Christmas. Every year. So I always had Christmas expectations along those lines, but my Aunt got ill a few years back and ended up moving to back East, and she hasn't been home for Christmas since.

    Since then Christmases just haven't felt the same... but now that I'm starting to more and more on my own I feel like I could make Christmas just like she did, okay not THAT cool, but y'now, close-ish.

    Just do what makes you happy, and don't stress :)

  9. I get this. This Christmas will be my first Christmas away from my parents and brothers as they will be in Texas while i'm flying home to stay with my boyfriend and his family over the holidays. While I'm excited for Christmas, I'm more than a little sad that our family Christmas traditions will not happen this year, and I almost feel like Christmas will make me miss them more.

    I know that traditions evolve and change, and this may be a wonderful Christmas, but I can't help but feel that it just won't quite be the same...

    I hope you have a wonderful time anyway.

    Hebe x

  10. That sucks that your holiday spirit is bummed out because of other people. Don't let it be!! I'm sure that Christmas shop in Jasper town that gets no business in the summer would cheer you up for sure. I'm actually really excited to visit that shop when I visit since I didn't get the chance to in the summer. I feel if you made Ian a gift in brown bag and ribbon like you used to he wouldn't hate it. Pessimistic views of Christmas can easily be changed with a little holiday cheer!! Hope your holidays get better xx

  11. I don't see a crime in not feeling the spirit! I prefer simple celebrations, myself. I'm more cheerful this year than most, but I do think it's overdone for the most part and ok to not be "all out".

  12. There's definitely nothing wrong with taking things easy on Christmas. My parents always tell me that if it wasn't for us kids, they wouldn't do a thing. And didn't do much before that.
    I do love Christmas though and I hope that you get back into it this year :D Maybe you can convince Ian to get behind it if you only buy handmade? That way it's not really like you're handing hundreds of dollars over to big corporations.