365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
409. What were your Christmases like as a child?
My childhood Christmases were magical. As a child, there was nothing about this time of year that I didn’t enjoy. Time off of school, a house that smelled like Christmas cookies and fudge, and Christmas decorations galore.
There are certain memories that will always stay with me from my childhood Christmases. For one, my mother would always bake throughout the whole month of December. There are still things to this day that people request from her every holiday season. She makes the best oatmeal raisin cookies (although a few of my cousins request them with chocolate chips instead of raisins) and her fudge is a family favorite. She still delivers a container of fudge to many family members each year and even ships some to those that no longer live close. The smell of all the baking of these yummy, sugary snacks is something that I will have in my memories forever. I try and duplicate it when I do my own holiday baking, but it’s just never the same. There is just something about my childhood home and the smell of cookies in the oven and fudge being made on the stovetop that brings me back to those long ago days.
While my mom was busy baking, my dad would always keep himself busy with decorating the house. Both interior and exterior. My parents have always loved Christmas and when they were married (50 years ago), for their first Christmas, my dad bought my mom a Christmas music box/snow globe. It became a tradition and he ended up buying her one every year after. It got to the point that my dad had to build a special shelf that would sit on the mantel above the fireplace to hold all of them. When we were very young, my brother and I would always get so excited when we would ask to have them all wound up at the same time. The living room would be full of numerous different music boxes playing random Christmas songs.
Although my parents now have an artificial tree (for convenience), we always had fresh tress when I was a child. Going and picking out the tree is part of the tradition and memories that I still hold fondly in my heart. There is just something so magical about the smell of a fresh Christmas tree. There were a few years that we went to a tree farm and cut down our own tree. That was always a fun experience. I’ve tried to talk Don into doing that now for several years…… but I’m still waiting….. 🙁
I would not be telling the truth if I didn’t mention that presents were a HUGE part of my childhood memories of Christmas. Although we didn’t always have a lot of money (we were not poor, but were definitely not well-off either), my parents never let us celebrate Christmas without a tree full of presents. I wish I had some of the pictures of my the Christmases where I would be sitting in a pile full of toys after opening gifts for hours. I was always one of those kids that was super easy to please when it came to gifts. I would be just as happy with a wrapped up package of scratch and sniff stickers as I was with the most popular toy of the season.
It is amazing to me how quickly time goes by. I will never forget when I was in my early 20’s, I had a coworker tell me that as you get older, time goes by faster. I didn’t really understand that they meant at the time, but for some reason it stuck with me. Well, I COMPLETELY understand now. I had all good intentions of writing about my holidays while they were actually happening, but look at me… over 2 weeks after Christmas, just now sitting down to reflect.
Like the majority of holidays, being that “infertile” one with no children is always a struggle. It is sad to say, but it does not get easier as I age. I’ve just figured out ways over the years to mask or squash the random stabs of pain that it brings. It is not a constant pain, but there are definitely triggers. The triggers are usually the same year-to-year, so at least I am fully prepared to anticipate them coming. What are some of my triggers? Social media is a tough one for me around the holidays. Posts suggesting that the greatest joys in life come from celebrating Christmas through the eyes of your child, or suggesting that Christmas is so much better when you have children to celebrate with. Even all of the family picture posts showing the parents and kids around the tree can trigger emotions of sadness. Emotions that you never express of course, because that would make people think you are not happy for them or their families. I was actually accused one time of making others feel they could not share or discuss anything about their children around me, because of my reactions of not having children of my own. That was devastating and so I no longer tell anyone about any of the feelings I am experiencing, just in fear that I will once again be accused of being the Grinch that hates children.
This year was a pretty typical holiday season or us. We spent a good deal of the season in the car driving to one location or another to celebrate with a variety of family. We joke every year that “next year” we are NOT doing this and we are going to run away and escape to a tropical island and just celebrate the holidays alone. Of course, we have yet to do that… but I must admit, each year it gets more and more tempting.
We started off the season with our 2nd annual Gingerbread House and Cookie decorating party. If nothing else, I do enjoy coordinating parties, so that was fun and exciting for me. We had a total of 5 little ones (and their parents and grandparents) over to destroy the house with icing and candy sprinkles. But yes, we loved every minute of it. We even got a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus! Not to brag, but I have the honor of being the daughter of this famous couple.
As is a custom in our household, I did all the shopping and Don did all of the wrapping. Which is totally fine by me, because I not only dislike wrapping, I’m also rather bad at it. I think I got the easy end of the deal this year, since I did 98% of my shopping on line. I LOVE AMAZON. I used to be such a mall rat. I could spend hours upon hours on a weekend at the mall. Now I despise it. I hate dealing with the parking, the crowds and frankly I do not like having to wander around to find what I’m looking for. It is much easier to just google where I can buy it online and be done with it. I was so excited this year because we were able to do our FIRST EVER DEBT FREE CHRISTMAS! Due to a 52 week money savings challenge that I started the first week of January 2018 and some other savings we had, we were able to pay CASH for everything. Including everything for the Gingerbread House/Cookie decorating party. Not only was our Christmas debt free, but we also downsized our purchasing a significant amount. I had a budget and we stuck to it. We also spoke with my parents and explained how we just don’t need anything, so we all agreed that we would just pick a day and all go someplace together verse buying gifts. I think we are all starting to realize that time together is way more valuable then monetary gifts.
One of the things that Don and I enjoy doing every Christmas season (I believe this was our 6th year) is going to the Dickens Fair. I just love walking in every year to the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and yummy food being prepared by all of the vendors. It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without a trip to good ole’ London. They have people dressed up in period costumes and Scrooge and all of the ghost are randomly strolling around the fair (A Christmas Carol is my all time favorite Christmas movie). Don says every year that this will probably be our last time going, but we always end up going back. Besides, this is the only place I ever get my hot buttered rum. I can’t miss a year of that! 🙂
Our first official Christmas celebration was on Christmas Eve. We made the 2 hour drive to spend the morning with my beautiful godmother, goddaughter and my two godsons. This is always one of the highlights of my holiday season. I love these people so much and it always makes my heart happy to be around them. The boys are growing so fast and I feel like I’ve missed so much with them already, so I am trying to make every minute with them as special as possible.
Christmas Eve night we drove back home and stopped at my parents for Christmas Eve crab dinner. AMAZING! The crab on Christmas Eve is becoming a tradition with us. Shout out to my parents for eliminating the pasta and bread so that we could stay semi-keto for at least this one meal. We did get our fill of salad and crab though. 🙂
Although we decided on no gifts, we still got a stocking from my parents with some fun treats inside. I got my season 11 DVD’s of the Big Bang Theory (my favorite show). I’ve been getting a season of the Big Bang on DVD every year for the past 11 years. It is going to be very sad when the show ends and I no longer get that one gift I can always count on.
Christmas day we woke up and drove the hour and a half to spend the morning/afternoon with Don’s daughter and family. Don’s mom was there as well, so we had most of the family together. Unfortunately, Don’s son was sick so the whole family was not able to participate in the celebration (we still have their gifts in our living room… cannot wait to pick a time to get together so we can get those delivered and have that section of our living room back).
The weekend following Christmas we had our annual get together with my cousin, husband and kids. Theo, my godson is not exactly a “kid” anymore. I cannot believe these boys are 13 and 16 years old already. Uggg… I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.. TIME GOES WAY TO FAST!!! We love getting together with these guys. We always have such a good time. And BONUS, they drove to us! We didn’t have to get back in the car for more traveling.
In between all of the get together we both had to continue working. Neither of us had any vacation time, so except for the actual holidays, we worked. So that was fun going back to work the day after Christmas. And even funnier to work New Years Eve, get New Years Day off and then return to work the next day (of course, that was said with sarcasm).
As for our weigh loss journey during the holiday season? Being fully accountable and transparent…. it was not as great as it could have been. Prior to the holidays, we were both down almost 20 pounds each. I gained back 6 of that 20. Don gained back 11 of that 20. Getting back on track as of the 1st, I have lost only 2 pounds of the 6 I gained back. Don has lost 6! Really??? What is it about men that make them lose weigh faster? So very frustrating.
Overall, I would have to say we had a successful holiday season. Am I glad it is over? Frankly, yes. Will I be excited by November to do this all over again? Yes… of course I will.