Merry Christmas!

This week's how to is about having a fun Christmas even when there are no kids in the fam/how to shift focus away from "grandchildren talk".

My mom is really heating up on the "grandchildren talk". You know, she's going crazy with all the, "Oh Carole Ann, when you have kids we can X..." and the, "When there are children in this house, we'll X..." Ok, Mom, I'm 24 and unmarried. Cool it!

My mission this Christmas was to make the holiday fun even though we don't have any kiddos in the house. My parents, grandma & grandpa, grandma & aunt, and my brother and I all gathered at our house in VT.

Here are ten steps we took to having a stellar time together.

1) Get into those family recipes. We always make Grandma's "Breakfast Before", an egg and sausage casserole for Christmas morning. On Christmas eve, we get it all ready and put it in the fridge. That way, Christmas morning we can just wake up and stick it in the oven while we open gifts.

2) Frame some art from when you were a kid and put it on display. This way, we can reminisce about my childhood and hopefully turn to focus to the PAST rather than the future. This is a wreath that I made with hand prints in Mrs. Peterson's kindergarten class in 1991!

3) Christmas cookies! Mom and I always make these spritz cookies together - stick the dough in a crazy gun-thing and it shoots out trees and poinsettias.

We got grandma involved - her job was to decorate the trees. She had some fun with it.

4) Save decorating the tree for when you're all together. This is another good thing to do together, and it can help you recall all of those great Christmas memories. "Oh, remember when so and so made this for us?" I found out this year that my mom used to make little yo-yo christmas wreaths to sell when she was a single mom looking to bring in a few extra bucks. I love learning about the tradition of crafting in my family.

5) Put out a puzzle. This year, my mom bought a Christmas puzzle and just put it out on the card table. I think everyone's had a crack at putting it together. Even my Dad sat down for a good long while. My Mom said to me, "Look at him! After all these years, I've finally figured out what turns him on."

6) Ask your extremely republican, Catholic, conservative brother what he thinks of the state of U.S. healthcare. This should keep you busy for a little while.

7) When you get tired of listening to him, be sure to have a portable art project with you to escape with. I brought my clip kit with me in one of those vinyl bags that new curtains come in. I made a red one in time to wear to Christmas Eve mass.

8) We decided to not do gifts this year, but instead exchange hand-written notes. I wrote everyone in my family a full sheet of memories about winter & Christmases together. My brother was crying before he even started reading his.

9) Make an exception to the non gift giving and give Grandma some booze. She'll be really psyched, and it will definitely get the party started.

10) Take a big chance and lead the family in a reflective writing exercise. Hand each person 5 index cards, and ask them to write one memory about winter or Christmas on each card. Each statement should start with either "I remember" or "I don't remember". I was feeling brave and asked the whole family to participate after Christmas breakfast. We sat at the table for TWO HOURS reminiscing and sharing stories. I learned all kinds of things about my grandpa's childhood, and what christmases were like when my mother was young. Highlights included:

Grandpa: I remember my first electric train! It had a loud horn.

Grandma: I remember as a child listening for Santa to come and feeling so secure in my bed with all the Christmas lights glowing in the windows.

When it was over, I overheard Grandpa say that he had fun. Grandma said, "Someday, I'll write a card that says: 'I remember when we all wrote I remembers.'" I'd love to do something with all of these index cards of beautiful family memories. Any ideas?

All in all, a cozy, warm day!

Merry Christmas!

Carole Ann

1 comment:

  1. I love the personal letter instead of presents idea, I am so going to try and instigate that in my family next Christmas. Actually my brother (Thomas) gave us all handmade coupon books this year (well mean last year really), I got '100 hugs', Mike got '100 high-fives', Mum got '100 hand holds' and Dad got '100 (firm) handshakes! I don't remember what my other brother (John) got but John's girlfriend got '40 kisses'!!


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