Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Holidays, Blessed Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Cheerful Exhaustion

by Becca Dale

November has arrived. I don’t know about you, but once Halloween is over, the mad rush for the holidays begins. With November comes a huge sense of joy and love and anticipation. Thanksgiving hovers on the seeable horizon, and I wonder whose turn it is to host it. Mine, I discovered yesterday. Sweet! I can’t wait. My family will all come to hang out Wednesday night through the weekend. That isn’t too many. Just my sister and her boys, my brother and his family, my folks, my family with or without the boyfriend or girlfriend, and perhaps hubby’s dad if every one else on the in-law side is out of town. That makes only fourteen to sixteen people unless the others decide not to go in various directions. If they are around, add sixteen more plus a baby. Note to self: Call in-laws and find out who will be home.

Next comes cleaning the house and deciding on the menu. Thanksgiving is easy, right? Turkey, Mom’s stuffing recipe, praline sweet potatoes, green bean casserole for my nephews, apple pie for my son and pumpkin pie for my darling daughter. Okay, no biggie. Except everyone is from out of town, so no potluck option. Mom could bake rolls, that would help. Oh and wait, my father-in-law doesn’t eat turkey so I need to add a ham or a roast. Okay. Cool, I can do that. If I use my electric roaster for the bird and borrow Mom’s for the other meat, that will leave the oven free for the side dishes, and I can bake the pies Wednesday night. I’m good. Crap. T’s girlfriend is a vegetarian, and I want her to feel welcome as well, so I need to look up a recipe for something lovely but easy. Not a problem. Google is my friend. I’ve got this covered.

The day after Thanksgiving the fall decorations come down and the tree goes up. Right after I clean the house. It amazes me how big a mess a few people hanging out for the weekend can create. Whew. I got it covered though. Hubby will climb on the sun porch roof to hang lights and garland as soon as the wind goes down and the snow lets up. As long as I am out there to makes sure every thing is straight, it will take him no time. He can put the nativity in the yard that same afternoon, and make sure the flood light hits it just right so it makes a perfect reflection on the house. The tree will take a few hours to warm in the garage, so I will run up and dig through the decorations to find the perfect ones to hang this year. Oh look, here are the little animal ornaments T got every year until he was ten and here are Sunshine’s Barbie ornaments. Aren’t they sweet? Why am I crying? Good heavens it’s not like the kids never come home. They’ll be in and out all month and will go with us to MN for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Just because they don’t actually live with me anymore, doesn’t mean I can’t hang their stockings on the mantel, does it?

Oh, enough of the crying fest. Move on. I’ll check the calendar to make sure I have everything covered. The costumes I promised to sew for the church pageant don’t have to be done until the eighteenth for fitting, the school music festival is early this year, but I think my nephew and my best friend’s daughter are in it so need to keep that night free, and the festival of young voices in the following weekend. I need to make a pan of bars for the afternoon practice. Oh, and Feast and Fest is the next weekend. I need to get tickets and my niece wants me to hem her dress. Okay, I can do that right after I finish the costumes. If I take the Monday before my birthday off, I can probably get the majority of my Christmas shopping done and dodge the really big crowds. I already ordered T’s present and Sunshine’s list will be easy to address. What the heck do I get for my hubby? Dang man just buys what he needs and doesn’t leave me anything good to give him. Oh well, I will think about that later.

Thank heavens Christmas is in MN this year. I can wrap and pack all the presents in the trunk as I get them. Our luggage should still fit even if Mom and Dad ride with us. The kids’ bags will fit too as long as I pack with care. I can’t wait. I will make pecan tassies, and homemade caramel and fudge the week before, and the cream cheese cutout cookies that my nephew loves so much can be made the day before we leave. Four hours in the car with the kids, and my parents, and my hubby all together. Uninterrupted family time. It will be perfect!

The in-law Christmas will be later. We never get together on Christmas because of other family conflicts so that’s not a big deal. I can actually relax and have a peaceful holiday. It is my turn to host the hubby’s family Christmas, but like I said that is later. We will get home from Rochester on twenty-seventh. The in-laws won’t come until the thirtieth. That gives me three whole days to make everything perfect. No worries. I can maybe even get some writing done in there if I am lucky.

What’s that, honey? Did I forget I promised to host the New Year’s Eve party? Oh course not. How could I forget something like that? Heh heh. What? No, my cheek is not twitching. What makes you say that? My eyes are not looking a little crazy, either. They can’t. I don’t have time for one more thing, not even a nervous breakdown.

I adore the holidays but often I work so hard to make them perfect for everyone else that I forget to take time for myself. I am not the only one either. I see it in my friends and family as well. By January second we are usually exhausted. Go ahead and feel sexy or lazy or just perfect as you appreciate the lovely tree and the warmth of your family. Buy that cute little elf suit and surprise your hubby but make him give you a backrub of appreciation. Get a bottle of wine or a cup of quality hot chocolate and curl up with a good book just for you. Breathe. No one will notice if the garland on the tree doesn’t drape exactly like you wanted it to or that there are only ten real ice votives lining the driveway when there should have been twelve.

Maybe this is just a Midwest thing but I doubt it. Do you feel responsible for making everyone else’s Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever perfect? Do you have traditions that are strictly followed or do you find yourself adjusting them to fit your changing family? Whatever your holidays are like, I hope they find you and yours healthy and happy.

Blog at Becca’s Retreat

Facebook

22 comments:

Maureen said...

I'm exhausted just reading this!

I'm a total holiday humbugger. Personally, I think we need to be retreat to the cave, stoke up the fire, and just tell stoires. Screw the malls, forget the out-of-town relatives, I don't want to hear one carol...I hate snow...

Really, just give me a fire, a good book and I will ignore the craziness. We just weren't meant to be acting like lunatics in the dead of winter.

It's just wrong!

Valerie Mann said...

I LOVE Christmas carols. There's a radio station that starts playing them here in Raleigh, 24/7 on Thanksgiving (or the day after, I can't remember). I never get sick of them. And they put me in the holiday spirit. Then I bake and stress and have fun. The only thing I don't do is decorate. I hate that more than anything. But I love to look at other people's decorations!!

Becca Dale said...

A cave might not be such a bad idea, Maureen. However, I adore snow. I was born in the heart of winter and raised in the frigid north. I get depressed if I do not have snow by my birthday and it had better last until after the New Year at least. We don't get enough sun so without out the snow to reflect the light and cover the dead grass, everything gets pretty dreary. I love Christmas carols as well as long as they do not play before Thanksgiving. Maybe not 24/7 though, Val. Thanks for stopping by ladies.

Clarissa Yip said...

I love the holidays and I'm usually the one that goes all out for Christmas and so forth. Love the first snow, but everything after that just stinks. Would I be shallow if I said that the only thing I look forward to in the cold weather is to wear my UGGs? LOL. My Christmas in New York usually consist of eating too much and having food coma. I love the decorations and the holiday cheer. Maybe not the shoppers at the mall so much, but it is fun to spend time with family over a feast. (As long as I don't have to cook anything. Did I tell you I can't cook?)

Your holidays sound busy but definitely warm and awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Deena said...

I bet everybody walks away from your holiday festivities feeling happy, loved, and desiring to do it again next year! For me, Hanukkah is the big deal. I make a huge spread of all things fried - falafel, donuts, chicken, AND potato latkes! Yum! Kids get chocolate money and presents, candles are lit, songs are sung. And we are all relaxed, knowing we can do it again for seven MORE days. Pretty darn cool. :)

Valerie Mann said...

When two of my girls were little, I was their Brownie girl scout leader. I asked one of the moms to be my assistant leader and found out she was Jewish...oh, did we have one spectacular holiday celebration with the girls! I'm coming to your house, Deanna! We'll bring Becca so she can take a break and you can feed Clarissa so she doesn't starve. Yay!

Becca Dale said...

I think the holidays are amazing no matter how or what you celebrate. It is a great time for family and fun. I focused on the work involved here, but in reality, although I am usually exhausted, I adore every aspect of it. I like Val’s idea. Let me pencil that in somewhere. ;-)

Brigit Aine said...

So much fun...sounds like our house to some degree...hosted both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve last year for 30 so this year my hubby and I are taking the two boys to Disneyland for Thanksgiving. Will still host Christmas Eve...so commence cleaning soon :D

New Year's eve is always over with some close friends...kids and all, I do desserts :D

Yours sounds great as well... Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Kate Richards said...

Ok the pagan girl speaks. Since most holidays are scheduled to be basically on pagan days anyway...it was on purpose btw... I just party all the time. However, emotions do tend to run high and for some reasom my darling husband turns into the grinch and doesn't recover til after New Years Eve. So, instead of the huge holiday this year, I have planned a romantic Christmas just the two of us. I'm going to shop and mail and have it all gone and see if maybe we can find romance in the flickering candlelight and twinkles from our tree...we don't even usually have one because we're gonna be gone! I hope so anyway, because we've tried this before and somehow been sucked into the whirlwind. I do hate to miss my nieces and nephews and Brody is 2 this year which nmeans he will be perfect for Santa. And Mom is getting older... Oh and of course I will hate not seeing everyone open their gifts and won't make too huge a meal if it's just the two of us, and Rich doesn't even like eggnog.. And if we go to Bishop, where they all are, it might snow...it did last year and it was magickal. I'll let you know how it turns out!

jennifer said...

My husband and I were raised differently. He tolerates Christmas, barely. He would probably have had second thoughts about marrying me if he had known how very LARGE my family was, and how many people expect to see you over the holidays. We're in Ky now, and all the family is in Ohio, so it can be difficult making the loop. But we do it, every year, and then promise each other we're not going to do it next year. Yeah, okay...
I love Christmas. The look, the smell, the food. I decorate the kids' bedroom with christmas lights and they want to leave them up all year.
One of the secrets , or not, of having a good holiday is having all your shopping done early. I shop throughout the year if I can. Then the mad rush is not quite so mad.
Hmm, where are those christmas lights? It's not too early is it?

Maeve said...

Whew! This time of year can make or break you - but isn't it great that it's holiday time again? :-)

Becca Dale said...

I am amazed at how different everyone's celebrations are, but it seems that it all comes down to love and family. How nice that those things remaain the central elements despite economic pressure to make it all about gifts.

The Sweater Curse said...

I love your writer's voice --so much fun.
Traditional Christmas? All the work? No, I'm happy to say that I'm not responsible.
The tradition I most enjoy is my island home communal Christmas tree --think Whos in Whoville.

Maureen said...

I remember loving the holidays. Then somewhere in the midst of feeling pulled in a million directions...I just lost it.

Snow? I'm a California coastal girl, snow is just scary. Nice to look at, don't want to drive in it.

Really, a cave. A nice, snug, comfy cave. And the only Christmas carols I want to hear are classical...

Becca Dale said...

LOL ladies, you are killing me. Thanks for the compliment on my voice. It is always nice to hear. I really like the sound of a Whoville tree. My sister-in-law has an alluminum tree right out of the 1950's, I think, that she spins a color wheel of light on. Anyone remember those? Sadly, you can't have one in a cave, Maureen.

Kathleen said...

Becca, you put me in the mood for listening to Christmas music, and buying present. I'm getting in the holiday spirit. I always try to make the holidays perfect for everyone, too. We plan the family gathering, around my schedule, since I work Thanksgiving and Christmas. We make our own holiday, either before or after.

Maureen said...

Sure, I can have a decorate...well, shrub in the cave. I actually haven't had a christmas trees for decades. But I do decorate a branch...I had this wonderful bare branch I used to wrap lights around and put my more interesting ornaments on it...

Decadent Publishing said...

Well, Thanksgiving will probably have my sister in town, but Mom has to work. Not sure who is coming, but there will be FOOD, no matter. Dang. I have to start planning that, huh? I have pared it down well. Not to stressful to cook as long as I buy the pies (yeah, yeah...I make the best pie crust in the family, but I don't LIKE to make the crust. So Polly's or Marie Callenders it is!). I make a turkey (FINALLY have this one down), a ham (husband's fault), mashed potatoes (not as good as Gram's, though), some sort of veggie, some homemade bread in the breadmaker, and Taffy Apple salad. We get SICK on Taffy Apple Salad, it's so yummy. We're going to Disneyland the day AFTER Thanksgiving (worked in retail management toooo long to love Black Friday. GAG!).

Christmas? Well, we used to run about, family hopping, visiting. Now...WO WAY. We now stay home with the kids and have the holiday we want. We have a Christmas Eve tradition. We made a giant Junk food feast (wings, wedges, dips, chips, weenies, pizza bagels, you name it) then go look at lights around the town, then come home and do the Christmas Story reading, put out the Santa cookies and milk (although, my kids insist on putting our healthy alternatives as well as reindeer food) and tuck in. Then wrap all the stuff we procrastinated on.

The morning is paper-flying fun. I did, however, learn a lesson and I get up and put make-up on first as I have a few awful sets of pictures. We don't do a huge meal because, well, we sort of just enjoy the day hanging out together.

Favorite things? Christmas Carols; traditional to Trans-Siberian Orchestra to rock-n-roll faves. The colors. The excitement of giving the fun gifts. The kids. The Christmas movies. And, ok, ONE snowfall. But nowdays I have to go visit it in the mountains. SoCal is 80* on Christmas day. :-)

Redameter said...

You made a very real depiction of the holidays for us all. Naturally everyone does things a little differently, but like everyone has said it's a time for fun and family.

I enjoy Christmas no end, love buying presents, can't wait to see the expressions on their faces. Love cooking cookies and making the kitchen go crazy with delicious smells.

Decorating can be fun and if shard it doesn't get so tedious.

But it is sad too, because it's the one time of year when people make a special effort for everything to be just right, and the sweetness that comes out in people if we could bottle it and share it with the world how much better the world would be.

I'm sad for all the ones who don't have Christmas, because it is so very special. And dwish the spirit of Christmas could live all year long...not just the giving of presents...but the giving of time and our hearts....Merry Christmas a little early to all of you.

Love and blessings
Rita

Becca Dale said...

I feel like the holidays are here already. The warmth and fun that have come from your responses encourage me that perhaps not all elements of the holidays have been lost to hustle and bustle and commercialism. Thank you all for sharing. I would love it if you would stop by again as we progress into the season and share how your Thanksgiving and Winter holidays go.

Colleen said...

Brigit, I'll actually be at Disneyland the day after Thanksgiving! lol It will be my first time there. I heard it's pretty empty the day after since everyone else is shopping. (I hate crowded stores, so I'm all for missing that! It looks like I won't be the only DP'er there either. Maybe I'll see more of you from the west coast there.

I grew up in the snow also and I like the idea of not being in it all the time. It was awesome last year when I got to go up in the mountains and spend a couple hours in the snow and then come back down and wear short sleeves again. That's the way to do it. lol :-)

Colleen said...

BTW, Congratulations to Maureen, who was chosen to receive a copy of Kya's King!

Colleen Beilke
Author Liaison
Decadent Publishing