|My husband and granddaughter putting on the first decorations.|
I have always been devoted to family and all things that make us a unit. As a kid, I ate up my grandmother’s stories of her childhood. I relished in her tradition of baking Christmas cookies (20 or so varieties), giving each of her six children’s families a box full. I cherished, even then, the gathering of all my aunts and uncles and 30 cousins at my grandparents’ home to enjoy a wonderful meal full of loud banter, the grown-ups at the “big” table and we kids next to them, at the long row of lined up card tables. We would wait patiently for the adults to finish eating, my Uncle Dave and Uncle Fred purposefully torturing us by getting a FOURTH plate full of food. I can still play the 4-D movie of all us kids sitting on the floor as one present was passed out at a time for us to anticipate opening.
These were very special moments when the worries of the daily grind vanished into laughter, peppermint, and wonder.
I hold the memories my grandmother stitching each of us a handmade Christmas stocking and organizing us cousins to sit around her dining room table making tree ornaments (both of which we still put up each year). This to me, is the most important part of the holidays.
|I made a digital version of my grandmother’s Christmas cookie recipes.
Click this link to view them: Grandma Sherwood’s Christmas Cookies
I find that family traditions, passed down from one generation to the next to be the tie that binds. However, as I lie on my bed writing this, a headache trying to bloom and my body worn out from the bit I did this morning (yoga and snowplowing), it’s easy to let things go because they seem extra or too much. But, the part of me who is determined to live FULLY despite the ever-growing list of symptoms of Fibromyalgia can’t give up on these cherished moments.
|Grandma Sherwood’s handmade stockings circa 1990.|
|My store-bought stockings with glitter paint pen names added circa 2015.|
However, they really aren’t extra. They are essential. They are our core-connection to the past and to the future. And so, I (along with my helpful family) make sure that the decorations go up, that some cookies are made, that the music is playing as we put up the tree, our Christmas letter (anyone still do this) goes out, and that favorite foods that only come out at this time are made.
|Grandma Sherwood’s made ornament circa 1975.|
|Our granddaughter’s made ornaments this Thanksgiving.|
This time last year, I was at my worst. My family picked up the slack and made sure we did at least a smidge of everything. They put up the decorations one day and surprised me. I had just come home from was what was to be my last week of work and the living room was decorated. (I had planned on just having the tree.) We made cookies, albeit they were ready-made dough versions that we added a bit of holiday icing or festive sprinkles.
And so, I gently approach this Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving (which my daughter hosted at her house-a new tradition), we got our tree put up with the lights. We waited until Saturday to put up the decorations (they came over for pizza and helped us). My husband wrote the family letter (I have to admit, he does a great job). I will print them and get them into the cards to mail hopefully this week. As for gifts, while I actually love shopping the local vendors, I’m giving myself a break and purchasing online to be delivered to our house and giving money. This next weekend, we will make a few varieties of cookies, just the family favorites. I will enlist the help of my daughter and granddaughter.
The danger for me is overdoing it and then not enjoying the actual time with my family. And so, this Christmas (my first feeling more like myself than last year), I will continue with traditions but on a lighter scale. The heart of the traditions I experienced as a child will be there, giving my present family precious memories to guard and pass along.
|This weekend we made a gingerbread house using a storebought kit.
All the fun, less of the work.
So, for now, as my head decides to continue down the path of pounding, I will take a rest. Listening to my body, following my needed protocols for wellness, and asking for help are how I will keep the traditions alive and be able to enjoy them this Christmas.
What is important at this time of year that you just aren’t willing to forgo? What have you had to “lighten” or limit? What are your strategies to enjoy the holidays?