Monday, December 28, 2009

Not a Grinch in sight


Years ago, Mr. B and I decided we wanted nothing to do with stress or debt when it came to Christmas. 

And that's the wonderful thing about being a grown-up, isn't it? We get to create our own traditions and preserve the ones we love best from our childhoods. We chose simple and enjoyable with an accent on time together.

So this was the "recipe" we concocted:

1. No going into debt. I enjoy making beaded jewelry and keeping the price affordable. So for years, November was full of beading, and all 3 kids and Mr. B helped me tag and package my creations for sale. Whatever we sold by Dec 20 or so was what we had to work with for gifts. We divvied up the proceeds so everyone had funds for shopping. And off we'd go to find what was the . . .

2. Lists. I didn't grow up making lists (except for Santa), so this at first seemed a little uncouth to me. But it ended up being delightful. Everyone wrote a list of wishes, and each year they grew more outrageous and funny. But they always included affordable items and everyone got at least one thing on their list!

3. Chinese takeout. We LOVE our neighborhood Chinese restaurant, The Great Wall, so rather than cook an elaborate meal, we all agreed that we'd order anything and everything we wanted for Christmas Eve (which provided nice leftovers for Christmas Day, too). We properly set the table, then it covered in cartons. We we left the table happy and with fewer dishes to do!

4. Hugs and presents. And then the fun began. For several years, we played Christmas Family Jeopardy to decide who would open the first gift. EarthDoctor son cleverly crafted the answers. And PreciousGrrrl Child always managed to win. One by one, we took turns opening and thanking the giver with a hug. EarthDoctor son also had a penchant for crazy wrapping adventures. So we either had to go on a scavenger hunt to find his gift or open package after package to get down the goods.

5. Midnight mass. For years we attended a sweet mass at a lovely little church known for its work with the homeless and poor. The church had squeaky wooden floors, simple decor, and an abundance of good will. The choir, including two tiny elderly women who did not stand, never failed to wow us with their wonderful carols. And we each tied a prayer ribbon on bare Christmas trees and sang the Halelluja Chorus in the end. And then we headed home exhausted and aglow.


6. Santa.We told the kids that as long as they believed in Santa, Santa would be there for them. So, yep, even thought the youngest is 22, stockings are still brimming on Christmas Day. ("Minnesota, where all the kids are above average.")

It's been a wonderful tradition for many years--and the times they are a'changin', as well they should. Our family has not officially expanded to include husbands, wives, or partners. But it can't be too far off. And come what may, these last days of December, I hope, will always be filled with love of family, merriment, and deep-in-the-bones knowledge that home is what you make of it, be it ever some humble.

Cheers!

19 comments:

Lydia said...

Sweet post and sweet old/new traditions.

I really enjoyed your selection of Christmas videos at your sidebar. And just in case you missed the Silent Monks doing the Hallelujah Chorus . . . :)

Gail said...

Wonderful traditions...filled with love, that is what counts.

willow said...

Sounds like a wonderful plan.

Hilary said...

It sounds to me like you have a better grasp on this season's celebration than most. You're creating wonderful memories and traditions for the next generations.

steven said...

kathleen you've got such a fun. loving approach to the whole christmas experience with your family. i really like so much of it. especially the creation of traditions that are connected to the needs and wishes of your own family. have a peaceful day. steven

ellen abbott said...

I would have loved Christmas at your house. It sounds so warm and loving. When I was a kid, my father would put all his change in a jar every night and that was the money they would use to buy presents. Counting the money was always a family event.

Finding Pam said...

What lovely traditions!I enjoyed reading about them. Thank you for sharing some wisdom with us.

Erin Davis said...

Thanks for sharing your traditions with us, Kathleen. Since we moved to Spokane and are no longer near extended family, we have felt even more free to create our own traditions, and I think we're closer because of it. :0)

Sweetpea said...

What a lovely post ~ so nice that you & your family have conjured up your own special traditions that work for you. It was a great read on this end! I am sooo hungry for Chinese food now and have images of white take-out cartons spread over the table dancing in me head :>]] Perhaps we'll do that on this end for New Year's!!

jinksy said...

Can't beat the simple things in life...

Renee said...

Christmas sounds just perfect.

Love Renee xoxo

Suldog said...

You sound like you have it wonderfully down pat! Congratulations!

lakeviewer said...

You are a smart cookie, and so is the mate here.

Alix said...

Kathleen... this is my favorite Christmas post hands down. LOVE the breaking with traditional nonsense and making new wonderful meaningful family traditions. You have the recipe down girl. Debt-free, stress-free, and worry-free. Just a heaping helping of family fun and togetherness - and Chinese food. What on earth could possibly be better than that.

Nothing. Period.

So happy to be back among the living bloggers. I feel like I've been out of the loop forever and I've missed you!

Glad your Christmas was fabulous. Wishing you the same for New Years and throughout 2010

Gaston Studio said...

Love that you make and sell your beaded jewelry to have money for the list of wishes! And love that you've shared your wonderful holiday traditions with us Kathleen!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

A cheerful and awesome post, lady! Thank you so much!!!

Sydney said...

This sounds absolutely wonderful. I still believe in Santa and stuff all the stockings of grown ups and grown kids alike... just don't do it until X_mas eve so they are only full when everyone wakes up in the morning, lol.

Sounds like you have and had great holidays.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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