These are random musings of my life journey, the people, animals, places, and events which have woven, and continue to weave, a tapestry that is me. We all know there is no real destination, only the ongoing experiences which blend together, creating the trail. Each step gives a glimpse of what is to come, without allowing me to see the end result. It is exciting. I have a home base that is mine, that gives me a place to rest. This is it. This is where my heart is, no matter where I journey...................

Monday, January 04, 2010


I read another blog today about post-Christmas blues, sadness about packing away the decorations, etc. It started me thinking about something.

When my children were young, of course I decorated and lavished every gift and accoutrement on them. The tree usually went up the weekend after Thanksgiving. We spent real quality time making homemade ornaments, decorating the house, making lists, visiting Santa at the mall, the works. We did Christmas Eve services at church, made the family's favorite holiday foods, took pictures as if another Christmas would never happen. A big deal was made about leaving the snack for Santa and having some special foods for our breakfast. We played Christmas music a lot through the holiday season, but especially Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We pretty much did it all.

After Christmas, the tree stayed up till New Year's Day. Then we all got together and while the kids took the decorations off the tree, I sat at the table and wrapped or boxed each one, packing them into storage boxes and ultimately storing it all away till the next year. It was all organized, routine, and it gave us plenty of time to talk about the holiday, the gifts, remember about who made which ornament, etc.

Following the usual pattern put parenthesis on each end of the holiday. I sometimes had some holiday blues, but not much. It was a little sad to pack it away, but it was nicely tied up and neat. Now we had the house back to normal, clean, and life as usual is back.

As the kids grew up and moved away to begin lives on their own, I found that following that same pattern didn't give me the same feeling of completeness. Even if the kids, and eventually the grandkids, were there for the holiday, it was different. The "parenthesis," the beginning and ending rituals, no longer included the traditional processing of the events, the chatter, the fun of past years as when we did these things as a family. The decorating and un-decorating was left to my husband and me or sometimes just me. The decorating was not bad, but the disassembling of it all was very saddening.

In the last few years of his life, my husband and I didn't decorate every year. If we weren't having any of the family home, it just wasn't that important. To be honest, I didn't want to do it because it was so much trouble and made me even more aware of not having kids with us. Since he passed away, I've come to a new understanding of the holiday. It is totally up to me to decide how I celebrate, and I've come to a real peace with it all.

Since he passed away, I've celebrated several different ways, different places, different degrees of decorating. This year, I did nothing. Seriously, nothing at all. Interestingly, the holiday has come and gone and I have zero letdown! I've enjoyed myself a lot through the holiday, spending time and dining with friends. I've listened to the music at times, enjoyed decorations in town. I've made some of the traditional foods. In many ways, this has been the best holiday season in a long time, because I have had fun, but I haven't stressed out over the details. It has been nice.

After reading that other blog, I thought about this for a while. I've remembered different years and thought about how I celebrated and how I was emotionally responsive to it. Times when the tradition was followed and the whole family was present, it was good. Without the majority of the family to join the set up and break down, it was just that .... setting it up and breaking it down. It wasn't tradition. That often made me sad. These days I don't have much tradition. I do whatever strikes me. Interestingly, I don't have the post holiday blues.

I've spent these last few Christmases in a variety of ways, and I haven't followed much of the tradition, but I've spent every one in happy circumstances. Even this one, I've been without family at all. I didn't decorate a speck. However, I spent more time in thoughtful retrospection. I've had quiet, spiritual times, and I have come out on this end feeling like I'm in a good place. Even dealing with the health issues, I've made it through with minimal blues. It seems to me the less hullabaloo that goes on, the more I'm able to relax and connect with the spiritual part of the season.

Tradition is good, don't misunderstand me. It is what connects generations. This year, while listening to "Silent Night," I sang harmony to the voice coming out of the sound system. I used to sing harmony at candlelight services, and my daughter loved it. That is one place where she feels a strong connection. And some sadness, too. But it is good. My own tradition of singing harmony gave her something that connects us and will until we are both gone from this earth. But if tradition takes over and consumes you, leaving you sad at the end, is it good? If those traditions overpower the "reason for the season" is it worth it? My more spiritual times are do very dear to me, and I'm glad I found more of them this year.

And there is the question. How do you spend your holiday? Do you have a lot of tradition? Is your holiday season filled with activities and hoopla? Do you crash and burn at the end, much like the end of a sugar rush? How much does your spirituality enter into your holiday? Are you passing a tradition of hype or hope? Understand, I'm not judging, 'cause I've been at both ends of the continuum myself. I'm just curious about how people celebrate and what traditions are coming out of their practices.

You can leave a note here, or if you want to write a more extensive accounting, leave a note, and I will follow to your own blog to read it.


  1. When I came to Oregon I said "no more Christmas tree." My daughter-in-law is Japanese and Christmas isn't her thing so grandson Caleb doesn't have a pretty Christmas tree. So guess who puts up a tree now?

    I've already told my children that if their dad goes before me (he's the cook) not to expect a big meal from me. We'll make reservations at a nice place to eat, my treat.

    I think a day alone to read, knit and watch Christmas programs on TV would be wonderful.

    I do love having our daughter from Texas here for a week however.

  2. As i'm the blogger who has the 'blues' you already know I go the whole hog.
    Honestly next year I need to prioritize a little more and plan ahead a little more as I felt frazzled and didn't get everything done as I wanted and that is NOT what the holiday is about.
    I realize that.
    I think it's wonderful that you feel free enough to do nothing and still celebrate in whatever way makes you happy.
    Maybe one day I will be right there with you!

  3. Your post has me thinking. I can't say I have the blues this Christmas, more like the blahs. It just isn't the same now that the girls are grown and can't make it home for Christmas. I decorate, Jim does the tree, but like you said, not having them around to be a part of that certainly leaves something lacking.

    We've changed our gift giving tradition too. Several years ago, the girls decided we should each choose a charity and spend on that what we would on each other. Although I totally agree with them in premise, it has taken some of the "fun" out of Christmas for me. Jim and I have chosen a family whose father left them and whose mother has a serious liver disease. This fills my need to shop, wrap, etc., but something is still missing. Jim, who hates shopping, likes the idea that we, too, don't exchange gifts. We do, in fact, have everything we want and buy what we need as time goes by. Still....

    This past Christmas, we went to visit our Chicago daughter, whose living situation is a bit unusual. Although we loved being with her, I honestly would have preferred being home, reading, playing some board games and cooking a nice meal for Jim.

    We have already promised our Vegas daughter that we'd spend Christmas with them next year. Maybe 2011 will find us making a new tradition right here at home.

    Forgive me if I've gone on too long here. You really caused me to be a bit introspective this afternoon. I believe it was good for me, and you got to hear all that's rattling around in my head right now. Thanks.

    Hope you are doing well physically.

    ~hippo hugs~

  4. Well Lyn, I have never had the Christmas blues. Even when the children were little and we made a big to do over decorating, gifts, etc., I was still happy to see a new year and a new start. I enjoyed celebrating this year since my son was able to make it to see me. It made Christmas fun for us. If I was alone, I would probably be invited to spend Christmas with one of the kids and that would be ok. This year my son helped with the cooking, he baked a ham and played Santa. He likes to help me so I don't get too tired and the help is very welcome. I say enjoy the holidays however it gives you comfort and joy. Traditions mean nothing if they do not bring happiness.

  5. As you probably already know, I am not a huge fan of what Christmas has turned into. If I could get away with it, I would not do anything.

  6. This is all very interesting.

    Linda, as you probably know, I went out to dinner with friends on both Christmas and Thanksgiving. It suited the heck outta me! If my kids were here or if I were with them, I’d be OK with dinner at home or out. As long as there are grandchildren present, I’ll decorate my house, too. But when they aren’t here, I don’t see a reason, unless I simply wish to for myself.

    Patti, you let the cat out of the bag! I agree that everyone should do just what feels right for them. It was right for me to do the whole big celebration when the kids were small, and now it is my time. As I said above, when the grandkids are here I’ll decorate, and when I’m alone, I’ll do whatever I feel like on any given day (season). It is very easy to plan too much, to overwhelm yourself, just as you say, and that’s sad.

    Hippo Chick, no, it’s not too long! I haven’t had the post-holiday letdown in several years, and I think it is because I finally got over trying to fit everyone’s expectations, my own included. I’m much more go-with-the-flow about everything in my life. I, too, love to spend holidays with my kids and grandkids, but I’m totally comfortable being alone. I think you heard what I was driving at; I wonder how many are doing some routine thing without enjoying it, because that takes away from the celebration of the season! Establishing tradition is one thing; following meaningless routines is sad, IMO. And I love your tradition of giving to a charity, especially as you have made it a personal gift to a family, not just $$.

    Moni, the times I had the blues were the years that the kids we moving away, the traditions harder to fulfill because they weren’t with us for the whole month to do it all as we once did. Once I began changing, adapting to the new way, I was OK. You’re right, traditions are meaningless if they aren’t working! My kids are so far away that it is hard to see them every year. This year, even my stepson who lives nearby, was working on Christmas Day! I’m glad I’m letting myself ride the wind, do whatever presents itself each year.

    Daisy, I do know that, and I totally understand it. I’m guessing that Man of yours is OK with whatever you want to do, right? Then do it! If the kids and grandkids are around and want more decorating, etc., than you do, I’d give them 2 dates that they will be present and taking part: the day the tree and decorations go up, and the day it all comes down!! Otherwise, I’d spend the season as YOU want!

  7. I haven't decorated the last few years probably because of all the stress and tension that seems to come with the season. (mainly due to the husband and his attitude.)
    BUT I did put up a tree and decorate this year, simply because this hasn't been the best year financially, so I thought we needed it to look more like Christmas. None of my kids live at home anymore, but they were excited to see that I put up the tree and decorated. Cassie even helped, something she hasn't done since she was little.
    I'm sure if my grandkids would have been here, they would have helped with decorating the tree but
    I hadn't got them out yet.

    I think it's best to do what feels right and what works for you on each holiday.
    I'm sure I'll decorate again next year especially if the grandkids are here. Santa needs somewhere to leave their presents. :)

    Have a great week,

  8. Kim, I agree about the stress of the season. It can be vicious. There were many times that I nearly held my breath till it was over. Just getting through was a challenge. We set our expectations so high, everything has to be just so, and it never measures up. I hope things are taking a better turn for you. If we can get back to a more simple way of celebrating, it will be good for us all, I think.

  9. this year was hard but not as hard as I thought it would be but we didnt stay home to dwell on who was missing so this is new. Next year I dont know how we will celebrate will she still be missing yes will the hurt of her missing still be there probably I hope will be less intense so we can get back to putting up the ornaments that were important to her and the ones we made together.

  10. Bobbie, I think it helps to change traditions sometimes, especially after a loss. I'm glad you got out of the house and did something different. You'll always miss her, but miss her while enjoying moving on and celebrating the tradition she left with you. She would appreciate that. :)

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