Grown Up Celebrating

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I have been reflecting on our Thanksgiving with Mr. A's family.

Our families are pretty different, and the older I get, I realize that even more.

My family has two spiritual parents, three girls, and a boy.

His family has no spiritual leaders (his dad never went to church, and his mom took the kids, but never displayed any devotion/involvement herself; side note is that his dad recently told me that he regrets not being an example of spirituality for his sons), and three boys.

My family does family celebrations (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas) in a big, organized, scheduled and Christian way.

His family does family celebrations in a casual, laid back, whatever-happens-happens way.

When Mr. A and I first met, it was refreshing to spend holidays (I use this term only to describe the months of November and December. I would never refer to Christmas itself as the "holiday".) with his family because it was so much more casual than with my family. With my family, you better count on spending several hours at a time on one evening all standing around my mom at the piano singing verses of The Little Drummer Boy. For a 22-year old, who is used to living by herself in peace and quiet, that was a little too much.

I thought it was great how his family was all together, but you could still sneak off for a quiet nap or reading time in one of their recliners and no one was begging you to go sit by the tree all together.

But now, years later, times with his family have grown a bit too casual for me. I want the excitement and priority of family time and togetherness.

Case in point, Thanksgiving with them was good but missing something. I called his mom the Friday prior to ask about the menu and what I could bring and she told me, well, I haven't really thought about it yet!

"Say what!!!," I thought, "Thanksgiving is next week and you HAVEN'T THOUGHT ABOUT IT?!"

Meanwhile, I had been excitedly hoping for at least two weeks to bring the pies and the natural turkey and looking forward to spending some time with Mr. A's brothers.

Turns out that one of his brothers left just hours after we had eaten Thanksgiving dinner (lunch), and the other brother left Friday morning, and there just wasn't that feeling that everyone was so happy to be all together. It was like any Sunday dinner.

That was a bummer to me. Clearly the boys take their cues from the parents, and I just don't think they set forth that they were wanting us all to make it a priority to spend some quality time together this Thanksgiving.

And I'd like to take this opportunity to blame infertility for this one. I don't doubt for one second that if we were expecting or (heaven forbid) already had a baby that it would have been so exciting and so important for everyone to spend time together. We all would have been dreaming of when we could get together again, instead of knowing that we really don't meet up that often. We would have been passing the baby around or voting for name choices. I can just imagine.

Instead, I was having water instead of wine (of course I could have had a bottle to myself, I found out the day after when I started my period), and we were helping his parents put up closet doors instead of sitting around with everyone laughing and having a good time. Not that we don't like to help his parents, but it was just kind of a mundane chore for the day after Thanksgiving.

My family is coming to our house for Christmas this year, and the celebrating will be very different. It will be reverent, and merry, and bright, and LOUD, and filled with lots of cherished people and good things to eat, excitedly planned and prepared. I can't even imagine how much more merry and bright it would be if we were parents, because it is already to the max of family togetherness and cheesiness.

I hope if (when) we are parents, we will be able to strike a good balance of the laid-back and the type-A family celebrations. It would be nice for there to be an emphasis and priority on time spent together, without making you feel like you can't go to the bathroom in peace.

So unfortunately, this season has gotten off to kind of a ho-hum start for me. I did order our Christmas cards yesterday, though, so that is a start. And I'm thinking of getting some blue lights to put up outside this year. My grandfather always put up blue lights at Christmas, and I think it would be a fitting tribute to him, as it's our first Christmas without him.

What are you doing to get in the Christmas mood? Are you having difficulty or is your house already the scene of Christmas perfection?


Coco said...

Aw! The blue lights made me get misty eyed. *hugs*

I am SO not in the Christmas mood this year. I had my last m/c 2 days before Christmas last year, and that anniversary is looming large... especially now that dad isn't expected to live to the end of the year. A child and a parent in one year... and most likely both of them at Christmas time. *sigh* At least Christmas is about Christ and all He did/does for us, so there will be peace with the sorrow. Loving the true Christmas spirit, but this year I am completely rebelling against the artificial Santa Clause and presents type of Christmas.

the misfit said...

I see what you mean...some synthesis of the two approaches would seem ideal. We're hosting Christmas also, but unfortunately don't have your big family to descend on us, so it will be quiet (I would prefer it boisterous! But not hostile, which is the other option with my family). However, I think we also need to put up lights outside. I love the idea of doing blue in tribute to your grandfather. I bet your whole family will be really touched by that.

lowfatlady said...

My parents holidays are a little more structured than my in-laws but they are both pretty laid back and relaxed. I hope that next holiday you will have exactly what you want.

Trisha said...

I'm a total planner too so that would drive me crazy to not have a plan together! I'm sure you guys will have a great time at your house over Christmas. We got everything decorated last night for Christmas.

Stacey said...

Hey there, friend. Just getting caught up on your blog today and wanted to say hi. Been thinking of you and want you to know that my prayers for you haven't ceased. It breaks my heart to read of your continued struggle with IF. While I know that our paths have been different, I do understand what it's like to wait (and wait, and wait...). I'm hoping and praying with you that your wait will soon be over, and that God will add to your already happy and blessed family by giving you children. Sending lots of holiday love and hugs!

P.S. Your blue lights idea for Christmas is so sweet.

AL said...

C and my families are different - but similar, too. C's are more formal, fancy china, fancy silverware, my family is more pitch in style, never enough chairs for everyone, lively chatter and debate at the dinner table. Both do prayers before the meal and always all go to church together during thanksgiving or christmas...but the main difference is just the way everyone interacts.

It sounds like a blend of the two styles would be a perfect fit - and as the years pass you will develop more and more traditions.

The blue lights are such a great way to remember your grandfather.

Julie Collins said...

So sorry to hear that your Thanksgiving holiday was not as excited as you would've liked to be, but I am sure that your Christmas will be amazing. Love the idea about the blue lights <3 I can totally relate to your thoughts about infertility. My hubs and I started this journey 2 years ago, we were referred to a donor egg bank...and well 2 years later, we are still trying. I know it's hard to be cheerful during the holiday season when dealing with a situation like this, but our lives do go on and we still have to enjoy every moment with our loved ones. Best wishes! J.

callmemama said...

I've never really cared too much about making a big deal of Thanksgiving, but Christmas is important! I loved all the excitement and celebrations as kids - the Christmas Eve my grandparents, with the procession to put the baby Jesus in the manger and the prayers that went with it, followed by carols sung around the piano.
Christmas at our house was always relaxed, but we did the same thing every year (the timeline changed as we got older and no longer woke up at the crack of dawn). Stockings, presents, hot tea and oranges, breakfast together, and then we all packed up and headed to the grandparents for the big meal.
Traditions are easy to keep when you have kids - it just feels empty sometimes when its just the adults all around. Kids just bring a whole different dimension to Christmas...
I am totally in the mood for Christmas this year, but we can't decorate until we know whether we'll be renting the house out sooner rather than later. Of course, knowing that AF isn't scheduled to show up on Christmas this year is enough of a reason to celebrate!