A Word About Holidays

Ben and I are horrible about celebrating holidays.  We would completely forget about them if it weren’t for commercials and blogs.

True that.

It isn’t that we don’t appreciate the reasons behind them–although I still don’t understand the purpose behind Halloween–it’s that we are busy.  Also,  we are very limited financially.

I’m not complaining about our situation, because I feel we are truly blessed, I am only explaining.  We live in a cozy apartment,  eat delicious foods,  have reliable transportation,  have insurance,  have jobs.  There is no reason to complain.

However, when it comes to the holidays there is a certain amount of pressure.  Buy this,  buy that,  decorate!  For a person who still hasn’t placed photographs around the apartment we have lived in for over a year,  it’s a bit overwhelming.  Compare, compare, compare.  I feel myself giving excuses to people and myself.

At least I used to.

Now, I realize that this is how Ben and I are.  We work hard to keep our kids healthy and happy while seeing after their spiritual, mental, and physical needs.  We don’t really think about the extra things–like gifts or decorations on holidays–because the struggle is intense.

At the same time,  our home is our haven.  Sure,  we rarely have holiday decorations on the walls or doors,  but we do have each other.  And the love is palpable.

It’s in the clean laundry piled on the couch.

The dishes in the sink.

The toys strewn across the floor.

The boxes of diapers and wipes stacked behind the television.

The well worn couches.

Our lives may be a bit messy and we might be forgetful about traditional holiday things,  but we sure as heck love each other.

I don’t know when our lives will be less messy.  We will soon enter a new chapter of our lives: Medical school.  It will be hard.  So very hard. We are lucky,  though,  because we have each other.

Maybe once we are settled we will celebrate holidays differently.  For now,  we try to celebrate them daily,  (at least the religious ones) and remember the most important thing: Family.

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28 Comments

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28 responses to “A Word About Holidays

  1. I love this – mostly because I am the SAME (I swear, we share the same brain). I don’t decorate, and barely acknowledge they exist. I barely did birthdays for my kids – they got a cake (baked by my mom the week before that I stuck in the freezer to keep), and we wrapped their presents in blankets. We may have gone to the park or something, but I can’t remember… no big party, no lotsa family – just us. Just comfortable. And that is the way I like it.

    I figure – if you have to stress about each holiday, it’s not fun. 🙂 And I feel ya about the no finances thing – that could be a big reason behind our not celebrating big… but at the same time, I’m kind of glad because it’s SIMPLE.

  2. Luckily, when kids are little, they really don’t need much! We got away with murder when the girls were small 🙂 We still haven’t had a full-sized Christmas tree…I blame it on the cat!

  3. Life is messy. With or without kids. And with kids – perpetually so. It’s part of the price tag – for most of us. And I gave up ages ago, on being able to manage our environment to anyone else’s standards. Jeez, can’t even manage to my own (former) standards.

    But you are rich in everything that counts. And you know it. As for the rest – whatever the media (or anyone else) might push as necessary or desirable, it’s really of little importance next to the essentials that you already have.

    We celebrate a bit of this, a bit of that, and have long been on the UnBudget. But good times are simply when the three of us are together, my boys and me, for any holiday. And of course, the comings and goings and mess of all their friends who feel welcome here.

  4. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of stuff, or money, to be able to create family traditions.

  5. I’ve been brought back to the thoughts about upcoming holidays as we have a certain little boys birthday coming up as well as the beloved Christmas…
    And the talk about gifts and what to do and what not to do comes often. At least in my head 😉
    And what I come back to is celebrating family, not wasting time on gifts, but spending our time in quiet moments with each other. Looking at Christmas lights and reading stories and drinking cocoa. That’s my hope for the season…

  6. This year I have decided to break that trend. I don’t want to get a bunch of fluffy decorations so I am allowing myself a very small budget to decorate the kitchen table, like $10 to $20 per holiday. For Halloween, I found a sheer spiderweb table cloth at Kmart. I haven’t decided Thanksgiving yet. Christmas, so far, is a Charlie Brown tree. They’re like a foot and a half tall, come in a tiny box, work as a perfect table centerpiece and yes… it will be our Christmas tree. 🙂

  7. Beautiful Amber. That’s how it was during our school years too. Things shift and change once settled. Owning a home changes things in way I can’t express. Looking back, I wouldn’t have done things differently. Now that we have more time and space and means in which to live, it’s made all the sweeter because of the memory of those other times (simpler, leaner, and not-at-all-bad-but-sometimes-hard times).

  8. Amber, I’m the same way – but a little less graceful about it. I want to decorate for occasional holidays, but so far we’ve always been living out of one room or crashing in someone else’s for those! Jack hasn’t yet had a proper birthday party, and he wore a Halloween costume last year just for a quick picture (of the obligatory variety – to send to the aunt who bought him the chicken suit). Eventually I’m sure we’ll celebrate our own holidays with the pomp and tradition I dream of – but for now, who am I kidding? We have gutters to put up and rodents to evict!

  9. I do decorate the house for Christmas, but do not go overboard. For other holidays I do not do any decorating. This year for my daughter’s birthday we just celebrated at home without a lot of fuss and my daughter enjoyed it so much more than her big party the year before. I am also not a believer of going crazy with presents for Christmas or birthdays either. I like the element of surprise and joy that an unexpected gift at some other time can bring. As you say, the important thing is family, being together and celebrating all that that means.

  10. Such a sweet post. I remember asking my mom if we were rich (I truly had no idea) and she said, “We’re rich in all the ways that matter.” That stuck with me.

  11. Such a honest post Amber. And its true. Traditions don’t need to revolve around stuff. It’s the memories that you create by talking and laughing that give you the substance of what you will remember when you reflect about a certain holiday.

  12. It’s so easy to compare. And I often wonder how folks near us carry so much? How do they have the cash flow for all the decorations and the fancy costumes (because really its just one day and when we were little, we dressed up with what we had even for Halloween, which I think is just about fun)?
    I do fight with my husband and his family about the size of Christmas. Too much is TOO much. Kids don’t need too much stuff. But love, you can’t ever have too much of.

  13. Yeah, I see some of my girlfriends decorating the heck out of their houses for every little holiday, and I am lucky to get a wreath on the door and a tree up for CHristmas.

  14. I love your house Amber. It sounds like a wonderful place!

  15. Penny

    There are people who celebrate Halloween to celebrate family gone on before. True story. Anyway, I love this post. Made me smile. The love in your family is what counts, more so than celebrating holidays be putting up decorations and such. You’re so awesome, Amber!

    • Are you referring to Dia de los Muertos?? Or, Day of the Dead?? That makes sense to me. So does remembering that holidays are more about family. Thank you for reminding me of this!! : )

      • Penny

        Yes. As well as the Celtic holiday Samhain, aka the Celtic New Year. They celebrated their ancestors and warded off “evil spirits” by wearing masks/costumes. Also, they celebrated the harvest. Basically, it was a time to be grateful.

        Yes! Wonderful to know that holidays, in the end, usually come back to family and gratitude.

  16. We’ve never done big birthdays. We let them pick out where they want to eat and they get to have a “boss around day,” which means they get to pick a fun activity. I also bake them a cake. Presents are never extravagant. For Hannukah, even though we do 8 days for tradition, these are smallish gifts, and we try to have different themes, like family day, charity day (tzedakah in Hebrew), and book day.

    They’ll always love the exact way YOU do things, Amber, because that’ll feel like family and it’ll feel just right.

  17. It sounds like you’re focusing on what matters. We don’t decorate, but we do spend lots of time doing things as a family to commemorate holidays (including working together to make Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating as a family). That’s what our kids will remember, the other stuff is just distraction.

  18. White walls drive me crazy. The first thing I have to do in a new place is hang pictures or else my mind starts to implode! Well-worn couches though? To me, those are the perfect metaphor for family: comfortable, established, well-loved, hard to leave, and easy to come back to. 🙂

  19. Bri

    I have to admit I’m a decoration person. It was bred into me. But I always appreciated that my parents took more time to talk with us and help us kids than worry over the dishes in the sink.

  20. We like the idea of holidays but we’re not big into decorating for each season, each holiday. Perhaps when our kid is older we may indulge in the spirit a little more as I’m sure she will be pretty infectious with hers but now, we’re enjoying just laying low and picking and choosing the essence of the holidays we enjoy and partaking in just those. Like the Christmas tree and presents. Or turkey at Thanksgiving (without the cornucopia as centerpiece).

  21. There is so much pressure isn’t there? And for some reason, I judge myself as a mother by these kind of standards (i.e. how Halloweeny is my house?), but it’s crazy, because I love my children and nurture them in other ways and I need to learn that it is enough too. So I have a few things out for fall right now, literally a small box worth of decorations that make it feel like it’s a new season. And I have a few ghost and ghouls that I’ll put up soon. But I try to keep it simple. I try to focus on what matters, freeing up time to just be together as family. This post is an important reminder.

  22. I have found the longer I’ve been married the more I’ve found traditions for holidays that fit with my family dynamics. Also, you’re right, having discretionary income has also helped me do things I couldn’t afford to do at the beginning of my marriage. We never did Halloween much at all before my husband’s last year of residency.

  23. Amen, sister!!! Family is not about what you buy or how many decorations you have. The best memories I have growing up are of just being together and enjoying one another’s company. You have a wonderful family and you appreciate all of life’s blessings. Your children live very full lives.

  24. For sure the comparing yourself to others will get you every time. Glad you stopped!

  25. Beautifully put! And a lot of the holidays which are so prevalent really don’t have fantastic meaning behind them anyways. I would say keep it up with the holidays which mean something to you, and the other fluffier, commercial holidays can be discarded! Who needs ’em?

  26. Compare, compare, compare. I get it. And I do it. But less so these days. And I practice not comparing.

    We have gotten to the place where our Christmas celebration involves almost no presents for people outside the walls of our home. We throw a couple of rousing parties, but we exchange very few gifts. This is because of the compare-fairies. I just didn’t want to fight them anymore. I never felt like my gifts measured up. Or they were the fabulous ones. Either way I felt squiggly. And I didn’t like it.

    So… no more. I like Christmas to be about gathering. And I LOVE to throw a good party. I have no standards. Sometimes it’s hotdogs and chips. Sometimes it’s all out fancy plates and silver. I love it all, as long as people are engaged and laughing and loving.

    Your family is lucky to live in a home where the love overflows and the comparisons are few.