Friday, December 20, 2013

Traditions for a new era.

Our holiday tree. I let go of my control issues, and let the kids decorate it entirely on their own this year.

Happy holidays!

This time of year, my thoughts seem to naturally turn to both the spiritual and traditional aspects of the holidays we celebrate in my home. For a very long time, I tried hard to be someone I'm not, and although it greatly impacted our daily existence, it took an even larger toll on how we observed nearly every holiday. Part of me regrets those 7 wasted years, yet another part acknowledges that it was time that shaped how I view the world so that's ok. 

I really should do a post that explains this all a little more. A little better. Suffice to say, I'm no longer a Christian. I'm not really much of anything these days, except perhaps highly spiritual and not so much religious. I've leaned towards a Wiccan or Pagan path in the last year. It's been quite a journey. Because of all that, the way we celebrate holidays looks very different this year.
Since I was expecting our firstborn, the idea of building traditions for our little family was very important to me. However, I'm not very good at coming up with these sorts of ideas. One of the few things I've managed to do over the years has been to buy each child a special tree ornament each year. When they are grown and move out from our home, they'll be taking all their ornaments with them for their own holiday trees. I hope they'll be able to look at each one and savor fond memories. 

MonkeyMan loves video games these days.

Tank has a deep love of that damn "What Does the Fox Say?" song.

The Princess loves snowmen so much!

Starting this year, we'll be celebrating both Christmas and Yule. Since there's no longer a need to "keep Christ in Christmas", I've been trying to come up with new ideas for things to do that day, as well as introducing Yule to my children. Previously, Christmas was fairly busy for us with relatives visiting and Mr. P.'s work schedule. So far, here's how the winter holidays look like in our home.

We continued our tradition of going to see Bright Nights with my mother. It just wouldn't feel like Christmas without all those gorgeous displays!

Driving through the poinsettias.

We'll be having our Christmas meal on Monday evening this year to accommodate all the visiting, but still have "our" time. Last year, we ditched the ham and tried something new. It was a hit! Once again, we'll be having a crown rack of pork with apple cinnamon sausage stuffing as the main course. I recently tried my hand at roasted Brussels sprouts. They were phenomenally good, so I think we'll do those too. We'll be letting the kids have their stockings that night.
Christmas morning, my mother comes over for breakfast and to watch the kids open their gifts. Usually we do a big spread. Since my gastric bypass surgery, we've switched things up a bit. This year, we'll be having the usual bacon, eggs,  and homefries. Instead of my baked French toast, I'll be doing some crock pot monkey bread and pumpkin muffins. Bacon, eggs, and coffee for me though.
In the afternoon, we'll be going to my sisters-in-law's house to see Mr. P.'s side of the family and celebrate. It's a long day, for sure, but worth it. Being able to cram in nearly everyone is important to me. I do wish we had all our family nearer but love crosses the miles nonetheless.

Yule is tomorrow! Eeek! To say I'm somewhat unprepared is being generous. The start of our new traditions feels a bit thrown together, but I'm excited to welcome the rebirth of the Sun even though things are pretty hectic right now.
Tonight, the kids and I will be going to a holiday party with my mother. The nursing facility where she works puts on a fun little event every year, and if the kids wear themselves out dancing, I'll have an easier time doing some Yule preparations once they're asleep. Plus, free food! Giving Mr. P. a night off from cooking is always welcome. Yes, I'm not a very good cook.
Tomorrow morning, we'll celebrate the solstice with a hearty breakfast, and taking in some of the sun's rays. The kids will each be given a gift to open. What's a rebirth party without gifts? Then it's off to the library for a "Magical Winter Day" celebration. Popcorn, cookie decorating, and a "welcome the solstice" party for kids. It's something we've never done before, so I figure why not try it.
In the afternoon, there's a Santa-related event at the park. More opportunity to just enjoy the childlike wonder of the season, and let the kids have a good time. After all, Santa is Pagan, too!
Once we're back home, and I have some coffee, it'll be time to do some Yule baking. Ninjabread men, anyone?
Is there an Aldi near you? Go get your Ninjabread on!

Mr. P. mentioned this morning that he's been looking into traditional Yule foods, herbs, spices, and things of that nature. He's got an idea for dinner that night. I'm very lucky to have a partner who, although is agnostic himself, supports my own spirituality to the point that he educates himself along the way as well. I look forward to seeing what he's got in mind.
Once the kids are bed, I'll be having my personal religious observations of the holiday. Having learned my lesson after foisting Christianity on them, I don't force them to participate these days. When they want, I'm always available to answer questions, and I support them whatever they may decide for their own spiritual paths.

There's our holiday celebrations in a nutshell! I'm sure they'll eventually be more well thought out as time goes on. In any case, I'm trying to focus more on the intangibles this year. Mr. P. blew out his knee last month, and we've had no money coming in since then. If it weren't for my amazingly devoted and caring friends, my children wouldn't have had much in the way of holiday gifts. We had an influx of Amazon boxes arriving, and with them, waves of all those amazing intangible reasons for the season. Love, joy, hope, togetherness, friendship, and gratitude to name a few.
As I dive head first into a new era of holiday traditions for my family, I hope each of you are enjoying your own season of hectic yet delightful memories. May the holiday season find you well, and joy abound in your home this coming year!


Cat. said...

Your holidays sound delightful! And more importantly, sensible, planned-out, and sane. Mine is looking totally wack at this point: our tree is up, but no ornaments are on. Prezzies aren't wrapped--may not be (feeling some serious passive-aggressiveness about one of the recipients), and 2.5 of the 3 people in the house are sick with assorted things today. One should be better by Wednesday, but the rest of us...not likely to see a 'cure' for awhile.

But I am playing bells on Sunday at church, and on Christmas Eve (I think?), and I do love the music and quiet of worship this time of year. Trying to find joy and peace where I can.

ANYWAY. Aside from the Brussels sprouts (gag), this post made me smile and clap my hands. ;-)

Happy Yule, and the rest to the rest!

Mrs. P. said...

Happy holidays, Cat!
Our plans have gone somewhat awry already. On the way to that party last night, we were in a minor car accident. So all my scheming of late night prep went out the door. An ER trip after the party for some good meds made the night exciting. Yes, we'll go with exciting.
I didn't know you play the bells. I did briefly in my teens & loved it. A friend of mine still does, and it's always fun when she shares the concert video.
Sorry to hear about the illness making its way through your home. Hopefully everyone's feeling better soon!