Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holidays Should be Memorable...but Not Always Enjoyable

Me and my brother Cowboy Greg during one memorable Christmas
This is the time of year when it's fun to compare who's going where and doing what for Christmas.  There seems to be so much stress around the whole Christmas event, that people are losing sight of what really is important.  It doesn't really matter what you bring to the pot luck.  It can be anything you like.  Don't lament about the people who are coming who are eating healthier this year.  We grew up on TV dinners, twinkles, and dishes made of canned goods with so much sodium that it's a surprise we didn't all have heart attacks at age 12.  It's all good.  You're joining family this year to make memories, not necessarily to have fun or to enjoy yourself.  It's not about you. It's about spending time with people you don't often see, and who may even drive you crazy.  This is the good stuff in life you'll remember for years to come.  You need to make those stories that can be passed down through the generations.  These are the times you'll remember when you're in the nursing home.

What do I remember most from my childhood?  We always got a new set of pajamas and a few toys.  It wasn't anything huge.  There were six kids in our family, and we felt lucky to have any packages to open.  Somehow my parents always pulled it off.  My oldest brother is 13 years older than me.  We bought him a new flashlight...every year...because what else do you get for someone you don't really play with anymore.  And my sister is 10 years older.  I think I bought her a new hair bow...every year...because she had such pretty hair and I liked brushing it.  The best Christmas gift ever?  Well, that's an easy one.  I got a puppy from my aunt & uncle and they had actually wrapped it in a box for me to open!  That dog went through a lot during the years and he was so loved by both me and my brother Greg.  Before the Christmas puppy, there was a Christmas where my brother Eric got a racing track.  He had a mutt named Pete.  The dog went NUTS about the racetrack.  He'd watch the cars race in a circle until we thought he'd fall over from being dizzy.

The most fun at Christmastime?  It was always great when we had snow and could get together with cousins for dinner.  We'd all eat and then it was play time in the snow.  The older kids were always mean and threw snowballs at us.  Sometimes we'd go caroling in whatever neighborhood we were in. I loved it when we got change or treats for singing, though that wasn't the point.  The adults let us do our own thing and together we made memories.  Now that most of the adults in our family are gone, we cling to those holiday memories.

If you're going to a Christmas party because you think it's going to be fun, I hope you're right, but chances are pretty good that there will be awkward moments when you have to get along with people you seldom see.  Funny though, how much of those awkward moments will stay with you for life.  I can remember the smell of my aunt's perfume.  How about my uncle who would always drink too much and then dance with everyone...even the other men.  It was hilarious, but I am pretty sure there were some people who thought it was a bit uncomfortable. We had a Christmas dinner when I was stationed in Florida, where we invited neighbors to dine with us, and when I went to the kitchen to get the ham, all I saw was a floor full of cloves and a large labrador licking his lips.  SAMMY!!!!  We still had plenty to eat, but no meat.  Do you think anyone will ever forget that dinner?  No, we still laugh about it today.

Christmas has become kind of strange since I married a Muslim.  Of course, my husband doesn't celebrate the holiday.  I no longer put up a tree.  My older kids spend Christmas with their dad and he is a Christmas fanatic, so it's all good.  It's tougher now that our little guy Omar is 8.  He embraces everything Santa, and still tells any Santa who will listen that he wants a pony.  Yeah, good luck with that one, Omar. This year my husband decided we should go to Mexico to try something different.  I'm game to try it.  It's a family thing.  When you make time for family, you remember those times.
So go out and make some memories with your family and other loved ones.  Be bold.  Merry Christmas!

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