Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Plan

I've made it pretty clear here on my bloggity blog that I'm not crazy about the way my family celebrates Christmas these days.

Part of it is resentment that I have to be the one travel every year - even though I live in a really cool city adjacent to mountains. Why on earth would they not want to come here? I can't figure it out either.

The resentment continues with the fact that my brother runs his own business and doesn't exactly have to work out vacation time for the holidays.
Unlike me.
And my friends who point out that we never get to take real vacations because all our time off and disposable savings is spent on just going 'home' every year.


As children, our family tradition on Christmas Eve was a special meal before opening family gifts. (the extra 20 -30 minutes it took to do the dishes - no dishwasher - was pure torture cuz we were so hyped up for presents!!)

Firm rules only one person could open at a time - everyone savoring the sweet gifts. Then we'd revel in our loot, clean up the torn wrapping paper and get a little shut eye before mom woke us to go to Midnight Mass.

After Midnight Mass, Mom and Dad would have to sedate three hyper kids to get us back into bed so Santa could visit. In the morning - Santa's gifts under the tree! Then we spent the day with my favorite Aunt & Uncle and their kids - having a big meal, playing in the snow and checking out all the new toys!

Now, my brother invites another family (who I barely know - but they have three wild noisy little boys) to open gifts with us on Christmas eve.
I hate to complain about that, because it started when the husband was away in Iraq - and we welcomed mom and her boys to join us for Christmas eve. That was nice - and the right thing to do and I enjoyed it the first two years, but now it's just a loud mess and it's not about family at all. Oh - and my nephew (our deceased sister's son) isn't invited to anything at my brother's house so that just emphasizes my point.

My parents don't like it either. I think that's the only reason they still want me to get married and have kids so that together we can reclaim Christmas!

Now everyone rips through wrapping paper like it's a race. We don't even get to see the expression on the face of the recipient of our gifts - cuz everyone is tearing through the boxes with no order!

The worst part is, we go to the children's Mass at 5:00pm on Christmas eve. The youth choir puts on a sort of pageant - singing the same explicative songs I sang when I was in the youth choir 20 explicative years ago!

If I hear Happy Birthday Baby Jesus one more time I'll spit - from the choir loft! I'm not kidding.

I miss Midnight Mass.
Last year, I stayed here and had Christmas with Mr. Burns. We went to the Cathedral for Midnight Mass and I was moved to tears. It was amazing.

I'm learning that what I really want is my own Christmas Traditions. Rather than be forced into what is convenient for my brother. And I'm not going to wait until I have kids to do it. I figure I'll bring them on one by one.

This year, I've decided that the first step in incorporating my own traditions is to forgo the annoying Children's Mass on Christmas eve. I'm going to go to Midnight Mass if I have to go all by myself.

I'm going to tell my nieces and nephews that I'll be attending Midnight Mass and if they want to get up and go with me - I'd be the happiest Auntie in Nebraska. I'm pretty sure my nieces will want to join me. I'm betting my little nephew will too.

And that will make me such a happy Auntie.

Even (or especially) if it ticks my Sister-in-law off.


Bobbi said...

We do the same thing at Christmas, opening one present at a time. Although it doesn't take long now that it's only me and my parent's. We're usually done by 8-8:30 pm. How sad.
My sister refuses to travel anywhere for Christmas anymore because her kids are so small.

But I agree with you wholeheartedly! Start your own traditions, you don't need a family of your own for that.

Stacey said...

Please allow me to make some random comments here on your lovely post about making your own Christmas traditions (about which I say, Go you!). I want to reply to a few things you asked or said on my blog.

First, thank you for sharing some of your feelings about being adopted. I am not in the process of pursuing adoption right now but every day I wake up feeling closer to that decision. It is GOOD for me to hear from people like you, and although I know it is a big decision it touches my heart when I hear people talk about a positive adoption experience.

Now on an entirely unrelated topic: Twilight! I think the books are very good. I will avoid giving out spoilers here in case you want to read them. They are CLEAN and I'd even say morally sound (I know that sounds weird if you haven't read them). That said, there is most definitely sensuality involved and it's almost impossible to not feel emotionally involved with the characters (ahem, Edward Cullen). I personally found book 4 to be a little over the top and a bit too graphic (I'd be glad to be more specific if you want to e-mail me about it) but overall I liked the series very much and would recommend them. I know that my pastor's wife is letting her 16 year old daughter read them - she is reading them alongside her. I don't know if that helps. :)

Whew, sorry for the long comment! Thanks for visiting my blog. I always like it when you do!

auntie said...

I'm totally with you on creating your own traditions - I think I commented on here the other day that I hate how people think being single automatically equals "of course I have no plans and no life and I'd be happy to do whatever is convenient and easy for YOU because what I want doesn't actually matter." Ahem.

I think the midnight mass thing is a great place to start, and if your nieces and nephew want to go with you it will be extra special for all of you!

Stacey said...

Ha, that's a great point you made about Twilight... I was reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz at that age and I don't think I've been on any murderous rampages. :)

Seriously, I value your comments and opinion. I'm glad you mentioned adoption to me and that you encourage friends to look into it. I think you offer a perspective that not everyone gets to hear and that's great! Oh, and I'm quite sure you've heard as many (or more) rude and uneducated comments as I have over the years. Blah.

Anyway, thanks! :)

Blue Castle said...

Oh you poor girl. I thought it was bad when my husband and I first got married. We were expected to go home for everything. I remember being so frustrated at not being able to start our own family traditions. Since then, we've moved 5 hours away from my inlaws, and that seems to help. :) Still haven't started our own traditions, as each holiday varies still as to where we are spending it, but we're getting closer to that ideal.
I know it must be hard to "rock the boat", but you're a grown woman. Do what you need to do. Everyone should give and take at the holidays. Just because your one family member is married and has kids, doesn't mean they get to run the show for everyone else.

TRS said...

Blue Castle,

You have every right to institute your own traditions - claim sovereignty based on the fact that you have children.

My cousin did that. When she realized that her oldest was 6 years old and had never woke up on Christmas morning in her own home - to see gifts from Santa under her own tree!
That's all she had to tell the grandparents!
Now she and her siblings get Christmas for their own families - and everyone goes to Grandma and Grandpas that weekend.

Gail and Keith said...

Let's hear it for making one's own traditions! My parents and my husbands parents are deceased so we don't to go "home." I have 7 siblings. Since each of us have our own families with kids and grandkids, we decided that each family would do their own Christmas thing and if we want, we'll visit later in the day to ooo and ahhh over gifts and snack on Christmas dinner leftovers. Somebody in the family has to be the first to start their own Christmas traditions. It might as well be you. Being the creative person that you are, I'm sure you'll come up with a gracious, but firm way to explain to your family why you've chosen to establish some traditions of your own. Gail

Anonymous said...

My first professional trumpet gig was a midnight mass in Midland, Texas. Man I was sleepy the next day.

The older I get the more I miss Christmas past. I want to create that for my kids, but it just doesn't translate as well.


Katie said...

Nebraska is not nearly as cool as here.

They should all come out here!