Passing the Baton

Linda1Christmas this year was a two-day celebration of giggles, cries of surprise, gift-wrap flying and for me at least a bit of nostalgia, a sense of melancholy even. I am uncertain why it was so poignant this year, why I felt so off centered and incomplete, but this year was off for me. This year I felt slightly disconnected from those I love, from the celebrations, from well from all of it. For some reason this year, despite being in the middle of it all for two days I simply felt isolated.

I admit there have been things on my mind. There have been some additional stresses in my life lately that have been weighing heavily on me and causing me some anxiousness; usually this wouldn’t change the pleasure I take in my family, especially my children and grandchildren. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy them either, truly, I did, my grandchildren are a treat and though it is a bit overwhelming now and then, I am fortunate in the women my sons married and the extended families they brought with them. We are the true American family, extended and expanded through multiple marriages. What makes us a bit different I suspect, is we have managed to keep ex’s close and engaged, thus children continue to benefit. Yes, this sometimes makes it strange, but it works.

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But back to the strange sense of sitting above it all watching rather than participating this year. Maybe it was simply so many of the traditions I grew up with were absent and I finally noticed, finally really missed them. Perhaps, it was the rest of my family was missing; all of my siblings some of whom I haven’t seen since my father passed away five years ago, my wonderful heart mother having passed only ten months earlier. With their passing, something went out of us all I think and we set aside some of the traditions we had all made fun of but in truth had cherished. Certainly one thing we lost was our sense of family, our bond. Even while still mourning my beloved parents, I mourn that loss just as much I think.

My cousin / siblings, don’t blink your eyes so quickly I am after all from Texas we do things strangely down here. Yes, my father married his sister-in-law and no it isn’t incest (my brother asked). 65.justloveyouIt was a match of the heart, a true love match after they had both been single for many years, her after being widowed and him after divorcing my mother. They had known each other for more years than they had been married and divorced combined. We all cheered their marriage and they brought us together as adults and created a large and loving family, though perhaps a bit on the odd side sometimes. We were a loud, loving and rambunctious clan. My heart mother welcomed all of us, along with spouses, children, step-children, partners and friends to Hearts Home with open arms. But Christmas time was the best time of all.

Christmas Eve, where we all dressed up in our finery. The women in satin, velvet and lace with make-up and hair done and high-heeled shoes. The men in suits and ties, if you had to wear jeans they had to be your Sunday-go-to-Meeting best. Children were even put in nice clothing for the evening. The Christmas Eve meal of so damned much food and so many types of cookies and candies, all of them homemade with love. The most important parts of the evening, the Eggnog toast, where each of us made a toast that we spent days thinking about and some man in the family always toasted the women in the family and all the other men groaned because that was going to be their toast. The reading of the Christ Story by my heart mother and the youngest grandchild and finally the singing of the carols which always ended with Jingle Bells, always and we all had bells on ribbons which we rattled at appropriate times.

I should add here, most of my family could not sing a lick. The singing of the carols was like fingernails on a chalkboard to even the most untrained ear, but it was tradition and it was fun. We all groaned, we all whined, but we all did it and we all had fun.

Gift giving was a managed affair, of course, we spoiled slightly any children but we did not exchange gifts between adults. There was an assigned name; you bought one gift outside of your spouse or significant other. Your gift could not exceed $50. Then we had the White Elephant gift market, all children under 18 left the room and the ruthlessness of the adults came out. This was a terrible and hysterical part of the night. Draw a number, pick a gift and open it. Better hope you got a high number, or your spouse got a high number. The higher your number the better your chances of getting something you want out of the pile of gifts in the middle of the floor. During each round, each gift can only be exchanged one time, so once you open your gift look around the room at the other gifts that have been opened, want something else? Take it and give them what you have, they then look around to see what else has been opened; if they want something else (other than what you just took from them) they do the same. It is a ruthless game! There were always some really good gifts and some really stupid gifts. We had such fun.

At the end of the night, we played games. Usually board games until we were tired. Though sometimes we played billiards and sometimes cards. Adults in one part of the house and young ones in another.

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

My eldest playing pretty princess with his youngest cousin

Christmas day was more relaxed though we had the morning presents for the children under the tree and the big family dinner in the afternoon. It was always Christmas Eve that was special for me. It was always that night that set the tone. I loved Christmas day because we were all together, comfortable and talking, playing games and spending time. But it was Christmas Eve that held so many traditions, even before Hearts Home, even as a child some of these traditions were already part of how I thought of Christmas.

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I suppose as new generations take over the celebrations they create their own traditions. This year I think I just missed the old ones.

Comments

  1. Family Christmas is the best, and you all seem to know how to celebrate well together here. But, you’re right. Time passes, everyone moves all over the place and cannot always make it from far, far away. Nowadays, I’m happy with a quiet one if I can get it. Already old traditions are gone and have changed.

  2. What a wonderful family Christmas! I like that everyone dressed for Christmas Eve. You are very blessed, Val, to have had so many around you. Our Christmas Eve was a bit lonely as it was just the two of us to enjoy tamales and margaritas. I too remember Christmas Eves where a large family gathered but that was long ago and far away yet miss it still. You have made it through another year, friend, and I hope 2015 brings good things for you! And stay warm on New Year’s Eve! We will be a home to share champagne – cheers!

  3. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with marrying your sister-in-law. Hell, many times I’ve kicked myself for picking the *wrong* sister during my first marriage. You live, you learn. Have a happy new year!

  4. Wow… so loved your family Christmas Val.. how wonderful was that gift exchange.. 🙂 and your family look lovely… Its a long while since we had a family get together like that… My Son called Christmas morning early with his partner and my granddaughter, we had the pleasure of seeing her open some of her gifts and they had breakfast.. 🙂

    Unfortunately this year I was a little poorly, so had to cancel going to my Daughters on Christmas Eve… But we enjoyed it by our two selves none the less.. 🙂

    This year has flown by.. and it looks like you have been looking back through the family album of photo’s.. Me too… Nostalgic, tinged as you say with a little sadness and yet contentedness for those around us.. As we look back at how things were.. And yet time flies ever faster as another year draws to an end..

    Loved your Christmas Posts dear Val.. and thank you so so much for being a regular visitor and I send you much love, and hope that as we enter a New Year you are blessed with finding all that you would dream and hope for.. With Health and Happiness in abundance..

    Love and Blessings
    Sue xxx

    • Sue, I am so sorry you weren’t feeling well. But glad you got to spend some time with your precious granddaughter despite this.

      You are so right in all you say.

      Jubilant New Year

      Val

  5. Happy New Year, my friend. Traditions are tricky, aren’t they? We get nostalgic about them when they’re no longer the tradition; when newer ones take their place, yet we like the freedom to do with them as we want, to abandon them when they no longer serve, to take only the ones we want. Regardless of our approach to them, I am familiar with the melancholia that the absence or chipping away of some of them, can create, so I more than empathize. I think because of the backdrop of all that you are going through, the mood was that much more pronounced. I want to tell you it will get better after the holidays. It does. With each new day, the clouds will lift. Raising my glass to you as I wish you lotsa’ good days this 2015.

    • Jubilant and Joyous New Year back to you. You are so correct, in all you said. I do know where some of it came from this year, I tried hard to embrace it, own it and then release it. Hopefully, I have done this and now there is something new, for all of us.

  6. Thank you for sharing your family events with us, Val. The older photos are wonderful too. I hope 2015 brings you much sunshine in your heart. xo

    • Sometimes time with family teaches us great lessons about who we are, where are expectations come from. I think this is what this Christmas has been teaching me.

      2015 I hope is joyous for all of us Christy.

  7. Hello 🙂
    I am a bit too late for wishing Merry Christmas, but early enought to wish you a happy New Year 😉 🙂
    xoxo

  8. Since I cannot sing a lick, I am just as loud as everyone else. I am glad I got to spend some time with you for Christmas, even if the traditions were all upside down. I love you.
    We are going to have the best New Year yet.
    xxx

  9. Warm hugs from Florida. Hopinh it gets better …. Peace!

  10. Very nostalgic – but happy memories. Remember the memories that you hold dear and draw them close. They are so much a part of you, Valentine. You are fortunate to have them. Wishing you happiness in the next year.

  11. It’s so sweet that everyone sang together, We don’t have that tradition here at home which I am glad for because I sound worse than Seagull in the little mermaid movie, Heck I make that bird sound like a tenor! Family being together definitely heals the heart doesn’t it? 🙂

  12. Reblogged this on MrMilitantNegro™.

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