Another Christmas has come and gone. The Christmas tree has deposited most of its needles on my living room floor, the advent calendar is complete, gifts have been given, and the now stale gingerbread houses are ready to be thrown out. Along with the gingerbread and dead tree, it’s time to throw out my list of things to do, memories to make, and people to connect with. When December started I had many wonderful ideas and plans and was full of enthusiasm to accomplish them all.
If I ventured a guess, I’d say that 1/3 of the list just didn’t happen at all. For example, I love sending out Christmas cards. This year I simply didn’t have it in me to make it happen and since Steve wasn’t chomping at the bit to try his hand at writing them, we simply didn’t send any out.
I’m happy to report that we did accomplish at least 2/3 of my imaginary list. Looking back though, not a lot went exactly as I planned it. Not that I’m disappointed, but my starry eyed optimism is once again replaced with a more realistic image of how Christmas unfolds at our house. Our advent calendar and devotions is one area I’ve long since decided not to stress over. We do it but on our own unique timeline. Some days are crazy and we read none. Some days we read…more than one. I’m quite sure we’ve never crammed in more than four so I think we are doing alright. And we did finish by Christmas so that’s something!
SWAYING SOFTLY TO THE MUSIC
Since this is the only family I’ve got, I’m not sure if some of these things are normal or if it’s due to the idiosyncrasies of my male dominated household. It may not be a “guy thing” so much as the “pack mentality” of having a whole bunch of guys and very little female influence.
The last week of November my thoughts turn to Christmas and at our house that means cutting down a tree and decorating it. Every year I envision a beautiful family moment, with the lights aglow on the tree, Christmas music playing softly in the background, the kids together, decorating with glee while Steve and I stand hand in hand, swaying softly to the music of our children’s laughter.
Okay, maybe no swaying, but we can’t even manage the “together,” the “music,” and there was certainly no “glee.”
Caleb was too busy with his phone, Drew said he hates Christmas music, Owen and Levi, the two I was sure I could rope into putting on decorations, turned me down flat, saying they were playing ninja warriors. Thank the Lord for Aiden who took pity on his mother and decorated the whole tree himself. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness that I left it just as he did it, the ornaments all clumped to one side of the tree and no higher than his 9 year old arms could reach. It is a beautiful tree!
Fine, they don’t like to get all sentimental over tree trimming. I know the way to my men’s heart. FOOD! So I spent an entire day rolling dough, cutting out walls and roofs, baking them, and finally “gluing” them together to make five beautiful little gingerbread houses, ready to decorate when they got home. But unfortunately by the time Dad got home with the candy for decorating, I was late for a meeting and so I missed it.
They tell me that a good time was had by all. That’s good enough for me.
The little guys were very proud to show them off the next day and kindly held off eating them until I’d had one look at them. After that there was no stopping them. The candy was gone by noon and the roofs crumbling in by nightfall. I did put the kibosh on their original plan though. They were going to set them up outside and fire rocks at them with their sling shots. I try to be a “go with the flow” mom, but after hours of baking gingerbread, they were going to eat that gingerbread and they jolly well better like it too!!!
CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN
One fond family memory I had as a kid was watching the Sound of Music during Christmas holidays. I know my family well enough by now to know that sitting down and watching the whole thing in one go would be pushing it so I simply started watching and gave them the freedom to wander in and out, watching if they chose. Steve walked in, took one look at it and walked back out. Caleb, Drew, and Aiden parked down next to me and despite Caleb’s groans and complaints they did watch parts of it.
Until we got to the old nun singing “Climb Every Mountain.” If I’m honest, it is not my favourite part of the movie but it didn’t matter because I couldn’t hear it anyway. The living room was filled with the sounds of male voices “singing” opera, falsetto, their voices warbling and hitting the high notes with gusto. I let it pass but when they started messing with “Doe a Deer” and “Edelweiss,” I had to banish them from the room. Owen and Levi enjoyed the antics of the Von Trap children until it came to the Captain and Maria sharing their first kiss and then they were out of there! Perhaps this won’t be a fond family memory for my boys but Aiden and Drew coming back between songs and cuddling with me means Mom will treasure the memory.
Every year I forget that I live in a house full of men and they just don’t get sentimental over the same things I do. I start off with grand expectations and quickly learn to adjust. But long ago I chose not to mourn the fact that the traditions I loved so much as a kid aren’t always valued by them and instead I choose to love the uniqueness that they bring to our new Christmas traditions. And every once in a while they blow me away with their thoughtfulness and consideration. After being sick for the week leading up to Christmas, my boys cleaned the whole house and even cooked the food for Christmas dinner. And despite the fact that I could taste nothing due to my cold, it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time.
The boys cooking Christmas dinner…now that’s one change to my Christmas traditions that I could happily adjust to.