Sunday, December 21, 2008

Who Will Be Home for Christmas?

I get asked this question frequently at this time of year. With five sons, twelve siblings and a slew of grandchildren, I suppose it's natural for people to assume that we will have a houseful for the holidays.

But the truth is, we often spend the day with only one or two sons, rarely more than that. The reason is: life. Some of my sons work shift work; another owns his own business which means the business owns him. Two sons and all my siblings live on the other side of the Eastern Continental Divide, which means that snow and bad weather play havoc with travel plans. It is often just not a good idea to plan a trip over the mountains in December or January.

Another reason why we don't have a houseful of visitors is that I have told my sons that they don't need to come. They have young children; kids like to be home on Christmas to enjoy their presents and celebrations at home. I remember so well how we used to have to take our sons away from their presents to travel to either my parent's or my in-laws' homes. The boys usually were wired up about their toys, and quite often their disappointment at having to leave home for the day was acted out in bad behavior. Which meant I was stressed and not having fun either because I had to ride herd on my herd.

I'm also aware that my daughters-in-law have obligations to their families too. Trying to make everyone happy can often end up making everyone stressed. I prefer that everyone enjoy their day and visit when they can. It works for me and I think it works for my sons too.

Last Christmas morning, Larry and I were alone. It was the first time ever that we'd been alone on Christmas. Derek was in Iraq, Tommy was in Germany, Aaoron was working, and these are the three who are usually closest to home and most likely to be here. We slept in, made coffee and a good breakfast, and lingered over opening our gifts. We called sons and family, and had a leisurely start to the day. It was just us, and it was just good. Each day is what we make it, isn't it?

This year it looks like it will be Larry, Tommy and me in the morning. I'm looking forward to another quiet and leisurely morning with good food and time to take things slow. We'll enjoy the time with Tommy. Then we'll be off to Derek's to cook dinner and celebrate with his family in the afternoon and evening.

And once again, it will be a good day.


City Mouse said...

Your plan for the holidays and wanting everyone to be happy and stress-free is just about the nicest holiday plans I have ever heard. I think we frequently go overboard on the expectations and imagined obligations. Excellent holiday ethos!

Deborah Wilson said...

Sounds like a good plan to me, Sue. I agree, young kids like to stay at home on Christmas Day. I remember when I was growing up, Christmas Eve was often spent in Alabama or at one of my Grandmother's house and Christmas Day was spent at the other Grandmother's house and various other relatives, aunts and uncles. By the time we got back home, it was dark and the day was gone.

My sister and I stopped doing all of that traveling after we had our own children. Now we have our get-together(s) a week or so before Christmas. The only exception was that while my grandmother was living we went there on Christmas Eve. After she died, Pop went to live with Mom.

Today's world is just too stressful, I think. When you work all the time and have kids, you need to have time to relax and enjoy Christmas.

But many people still insist on doing it the old fashion way - I catch a lot of flack about 'being a home-body.

Yes, indeed I am...:)

Merry Christmas, Sue, to you and yours!

Janet, said...

When I was at home we always opened presents on Christmas Eve. But after marrying and having kids, we started opening them on Christmas Day. When our kids were little Mom and Dad would go to my sister's house on Christmas Eve and our house on Christmas Day (they loved watching the little ones open presents).Our families now meet at my sister's house on Christmas Eve and we stay at home on Christmas Day.

Granny Sue said...

Thank you, Mouse! It works for us, and I love the Christmas Day telephone calls; everyone sounds so relaxed. Janet, I like your arrangement and wish we couls do that but our families are so scattered that it's not possible. And Deborah, I like your plan too. Like you, we all have to find what makes it a happy, joyous timem not stress-filled and time-driven.

We try to get together at New Years because the guys love the bonfire and it extends the holidays for all of us (and gift-unwrapping for the young ones!). This year it might not happen because my former mother-in-law will be visiting my older sons and Aaron (son #4) has to work.

So we're planning a trip across the mountains, weather permitting, this Saturday to see my former mother-in-law and do gift exchange with those families. That just leaves Aaron's family to figure out, but we'll see them sometime during the week I'm sure.

Tracey said...

I agree 100% that little ones should be home for Christmas! What an understanding mother/mother in law you are!

Granny Sue said...

I would like them to be here, Tracey, but I've been in their shoes. It's no fun to be pulled in so many directions like that. I refuse to be a puller.

Vera said...

I'm with you Sue, people should not have to do things that make them unhappy just because someone else thinks they should. I like your way of thinking.

bayouwoman said...

Sue,I love reading the stories you tell. I know you are a professional story teller, but it is who you are not just what you do. I feel it when I read your writing--it reaches way down inside me and I feel the things you share with us. Makes me want to be at your house for a quiet Christmas morning . . . .
Wendy (BW)

Granny Sue said...

Thank you for those words, BW. It makes me feel that writing this blog is worthwhile. I started it after my father passed away to help me deal with the surprising loneliness of that time. When both parents are gone, I think we feel vulnerable and exposed, realizing that we are the front line now. So my blog was a way for me to start telling the things that were important to me about my life, a way of recording it I suppose. It's grown to be more than that, and I am very glad to have met so many good people here.

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