Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Update

Update on the Christmas Blues

So Christmas is over. I haven't been this exhausted since those final few days before the birth of my daughter. The pregnancy coma days, where all the body wants to do is nap for 10-12 hours without interruption. Not an easy task to accomplish with an 11 week old baby, an almost 3 year old and a husband that just had heart surgery.

Christmas this year wasn't my ideal but it wasn't horrible either. The spark and magic of the season was missing but the reason was still there.

My little family attended 3 gatherings. 

This season, more than anything was about tradition and I found no shame in breezing through on the coat tails of it this year. So we did.

Christmas eve was the Fraser family Christmas. This celebration is one that I cherish and have looked forward to my whole life. The tradition existed long before my birth. We would all gather, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents at my grandma and grandpa Fraser's. The celebration trademarked by the heaping mounds of turkey and dressing, casseroles and homemade rolls. A beautiful display of desserts delicately draws you in and instantly gives the untrained attendee diabetes. Pies & cookies, fruit salads and christmas cake. Fancy tiered plates filled with a sampler of grandma's fine baking. Beautiful trays of candy and fudge. It's divine. 

As kids the anticipation was always for the moment when the adults prepared their cups of coffee and tea and we all settled in around the fire place. Then the magic would begin. Words can not do this justice, but I will do my best to describe this event to you. 

After everyone had defiled themselves to the point that was sinful and displeasing to God we transitioned our evening to the gift giving and receiving. Usually this would involve grandma's green christmas stocking to be passed around full of an assortment of chocolates and candies or if you were the unlucky one toothbrushes and other practical items. You had to pick wisely and quickly. After that the 3 cousins at the time would monopolize the adults time with some kind of less than talented presentation of a song or a skit. No matter what was on the playlist it was not uncommon for us to be adorned in elves costumes or Santa hats, ties and puffy dresses or atrocious Christmas sweaters. Then we would open presents. I always got a beautiful, puffy, bow and crystal adorned miniature prom dress from my grandma, porcelain dolls and other large floral printed clothing. The boys got matching outfits, dress pants, sweaters and ties.  Always a winner. There would be the odd toy but usually rare. When the presents were done we would all pack up, wish everyone a merry christmas and make the 45 second drive home where we would always have a Rudolph sighting. (now I'm aware that it is the flashing light on the top of some kind of telephone tower). 

Once we arrived home we would put out cookies and milk, write a nice, clear, yet demanding letter to santa and head to bed. Throughout the years the night was always different. It held excitement from not being able to sleep, to checking out the tree, to hiding under the dining table thinking our house was being invaded only to realize that it was actually our uncle arriving late. 

No matter what the night held the morning was an early rise. My brother and I would sneak down and check out the tree, snoop through the presents and then head back to bed. The excitement would vibrate through our bodies almost making it impossible to wait for the events of the day. When mom and dad got up we would open presents, joined by grandparents and uncles and aunts. Then when it was all done we would eat and enjoy the day. 

That was childhood Christmas. Through the years of course we grew up, we traveled more and the grandparents did less. We spent a few Christmases in Florida but when we were home we held to tradition.  

This year I choked tradition. I held on for dear life in hopes of feeling something. 

The kids are older now and new kids have come along so christmas looks slightly different than in the old days. 

We still meet at grandma Fraser's for out christmas eve celebration.  Now 23 bodies cram into her shoe box sized apartment to eat, laugh and exchanged presents.  We sweat a lot. We eat. No one really moves around much, which is hard on the 4 great grandchildren. Upon arrival everyone finds a seat and that's where you stay, the earlier you arrive the closer to the balcony you get to sit and further from the hot kitchen. Balcony seats are gold. The food is still a mass selection, although these days not all prepared by grandma herself, she actually lets us help. We still pass the green stocking. It is still full of chocolate and candies, or practical things only now that grandma is 90 she doesn't wrap them individually so it's easier to cheat. After that we open presents from grandma and watch her enjoy having provided Christmas one more year for her family that now extends to great grandchildren. It's hectic but really beautiful.

After the kids are in bed my husband and I exchange our presents. This year I was spoiled. I asked for nothing and I got beautiful gifts that are for me and only me. Art, a spa day, some new clothes and a book by one of my favorite authors. He was pleased with his gifts too. A nice cup of Tea and some Christmas-y themed tv and then off to bed.

Christmas day. 

Now that we have kids it is different. I'm the mom madly wrapping and planning surprises. Thankfully our kids are still young. We got up and we had to convince our almost 3 year old to open presents. Once he got into it he had fun. The prize was the train set. I was so happy. I shed many tears over that thing. I knew he had to have it, I just wasn't sure how he was going to get it. I think I was happier being able to give it to him than he was to receive it.  And he was over the moon. 

After our presents my husband made us a beautiful breakfast, my son played with his train set and I packed for the day. We made the quick trip down the road to be with my parents and my mothers parents for the day. We relaxed. We talked. We ate. We enjoyed each other. This was the first christmas with the two new girls in our life, my Kora and my brother's wife Becky. That in itself was gift enough for me. After our traditional
Christmas dinner that my dad prepared, we exchanged gifts among the generations. My children are so blessed to have great grandparents in their life. There were hats and scarves, toys and photographs. Deer hunting supplies, flash lights, jam and gift cards. Everyone grateful. Everyone happy just to be together. After the gifts were opened it was christmas pudding time. Unfortunately by this hour we had lost a 29 year old, 11 week old, a 36 year old and a little guy, all giving into exhaustion. The christmas pudding went down fast. Then we packed up and headed home. 

Another christmas day over.

We rose early and I madly packed and prepared for the day ahead. We got on the road and made the trek to my in-laws for another christmas celebration. This one is very different for me because it isn't my tradition. I am still learning and embracing my husband's traditions. 

We arrived.

The big hit this year was of course the new baby. She was passed around and snuggled. Her aunts definitely enjoyed her. We opened presents together with my father-in-law playing head elf and my nephew Caleb learning the role. I have no idea what anyone got. It was a blur of ripping paper, thank you hugs and chasing after my kid. When I would leave the room one person would be opening their present and when I came back it was someone else's turn. I know my kids got beautiful clothes and some nice toys and I got a necklace that I have been coveting for some time now. 

We sat down to dinner at a beautifully decorated table, as we do for every occasion and indulged ourselves with my husbands families food staples. These I have come to embrace (it didn't take long). Onion casserole, sweet potato casserole, turnip puff. 

Delicious! 

After dinner I questioned my choice of pants while others played games and we watched sporting events. It wasn't long after the night came to an end. 

As the last car faded in the distance Christmas came to an end. It was all over. 

Finally. I laid in bed that night and cried. All the craziness and busyness was done. I could forget about present lists and wrapping paper. The stress of Christmas related finances, gone. Now I could focus on my life again. 

There's enough going on in my life right now that Christmas wasn't a nice distraction it was an added stress. Thankfully I had good old tradition to fall back on and really it's about being with the people who love and care for each other, and I did lots of that this season. 

Christmas turned out to be ok. 

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