Quiet Christmas

Tips to thrive during the holidays and in-laws

Sitting at our local coffee shop, I overhear my friend on the phone with her husband trying to map out their travel for Christmas Day. It reminds me of when I had similar talks with my husband. For years we ran back and forth on the holiday to see everyone from both sides of the family. We didn’t want anyone’s feeling hurt. Then, I had enough. I worked in retail before kids and Christmas Day was my only day off. Christmas became an obligation and not a celebration.

We changed our ways and I loved it. Feelings were miffed at first, until all sides of our family realized they didn’t have a vote. We would visit one house Christmas Eve .For years we would alternate whose house we would go to on Christmas Day, just one house.. The pressure off made the two of us relax and enjoy the family branch we were visiting. We could actually slow down and visit.  The next year we would reverse and enjoy just the same.

Since being parents, our extensive branches have moved away or passed. We remain at home most of the day, if not all. No packing up to race into another town. No chasing after my kids to make sure they didn’t break anything. Now we have one family member nearby and we take turns hosting. It may seem lonely, but it is not. We can let our girls enjoy the day with their new toys and remain in their pajamas all day if they wished. We would make the phone calls to those afar.

While I do miss not getting someone else to cook, I appreciate Christmas for the magic that it is. Giving thanks and being relaxed is what it is about for us. My friend gets off the phone looking rather frazzled. I remain an ear as I hear her complaints about the madness to juggle it all. She tells me I am lucky to not have that. I think she is right.


My wish for Christmas


Standing under the pale blue neon light of the toy store with my three-year-old’s hand wrapped in mine, and my 5 yo in tow, I breathe in the chaos flamed scent of it all. Around us are kids begging their parents to get the particular toy and no other. We are following my five-year-old through the Barbie/Princess section. It brings back so many memories of when I was a kid.

I recall dragging my parents through the toy store before Christmas. I would exclaim at what I really wanted. Promises of being good were spoken but never followed up. I remember the thrill of waking up Christmas morning eager to rip open the gifts to see if Santa listened.

As I got older, the gifts became insignificant. I was happy if I got gift cards or cash to get what I really wanted. After my mom died, Christmas became just another reminder that she was gone. When I became a mom, I worked hard to give our daughters the magic of Christmas. I peeled my ears to find out what they wanted. When they woke Christmas morning, I became a kid again when I saw the holiday through their eyes.

After the hard time of year, I wish this Christmas to be like the ones of my childhood. I can’t provide the busy house, however I can, with the help of my husband, make their day amazing. While I still not-so-secretly wish for a surprise under tree, I also yearn to make Christmas magic again. The legacy of the past can be our girls’ future.

I declare that it is snack time to my girls. We manage to get out of the toy store without buying one thing. We head to the food court to buy a snack. I plunk them down with their smoothies and banana bread. I watch them munch away and smile. What I want for Christmas is already in front of me. No money can buy the joy they bring me.