Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Sharing

by Susan Sey

So I hosted Thanksgiving this year, although I don't know if "hosted" is the right word. We didn't have anybody over but ourselves. My family gathered in Michigan where my parents live, my husband's family gathered in California where his brother and his family are based. But we stayed home. All by ourselves.

I'll have been married ten years this coming summer, and it's taken us the full ten to get the hang of this sharing the holidays business. It's no easy thing. You want to respect each other's family traditions while making the space to create your own traditions. Throw in kids, pets, in-laws, limited vacation time and several hundred miles and you've got a real quandry.

At first we simply switched sides every year. If his family got Christmas, my family got Thanksgiving. The next year we flip-flopped. But we live twelve hours from my folks, and six from his. Then we had a baby. Then we had two. When #2 was born I called a halt to holiday travel. I said, "We love you but we are not leaving this house for the holidays anymore. You are all welcome to come here, I will love having you. But I will not take this show on the road."

I stuck to my guns on it, too, and people understood. They weren't happy but they got it. Babies aren't easy-going travelling companions, and they require a lot of stuff. A lot of routine. A lot of tending. All easier done where all the equipment is near at hand.

Then my husband's parents had their 40th wedding anniversary, and all they wanted for a present was a Christmas with everybody together. So we packed up the kiddoes, got on a plane and spent the holidays in California. And it was wonderful.

The baby was a year old, on her feet and tremendously cute. Her cousins fawned over her and we had a lovely time. I thought, "Goodness, why was I so dead set on never doing this again?"

And since we'd just done one Christmas in California, it was only fair to do the next one in Michigan. So we loaded up the old station wagon and hit the road. We made it to Chicago before my oldest's notoriously touchy stomach decided to act up. I sat backwards in the front seat holding a well-used barf bowl all the way to Detroit, and I remembered why travelling with kids can be problematic.

I thought to myself, "Next year is an At Home Year." And thus my current philosophy was born. One year for his family--they get to pick whether they want Thanksgiving or Christmas & we show up wherever they say with smiles on our faces. The next year for my family, same deal. But the third year? The third year we stay home. Anybody who wants to join us is welcome but we are not budging.

This--as you may have guessed--is an At Home Year.

We've had an incredibly good time. A nice, leisurely dinner on Thanksgiving. A brisk hike along a deer-tracked foot path afterwards. Pie and tea in front of How The Grinch Stole Christmas. We laid around like slugs the day after, and the day after that we hosted a Post-Thanksgiving Left-Overs Potluck for other folks who were sans family for the holiday. We all got together, shared food and conversation, and enjoyed being home.

And part of that enjoyment is from just being here, where we live, cementing friendships with people we like. But another part of it is knowing that next year, we'll go to our family and be with them. We'll demonstrate our love for them by taking this travelling circus on the road, and sharing their traditions, their homes, their food. And we'll be delighted to do it.

What about you? How do you share the holidays? Have you ever spent a holiday alone? What are your traditions? Your family's traditions? What did you take from your childhood, and what did you leave behind? How do you balance your family's traditions with your spouse's/partner's?

68 comments:

limecello said...

:P

Anna Campbell said...

Again, Lime?

Hey, Susan, what a lovely post! I laughed at you setting out like a travelling circus of old to entertain the masses! I think it will get easier as the kids get older. Mind you, not having children, that's a purely theoretical opinion and I'd pay no attention whatsoever! ;-)

limecello said...

Holidays eh? Never with "real" family, actually. My dad's family is about 9 hrs away, and my mom's is way far. Then I'm a singleton, so I don't have to worry about spouse/"his" family... yet.
For holidays usually we get together with family friends - all of their families are too spread out too, so we have potlucks. Almost every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, maybe New Years, btu sometimes not. Spending it alone with immediate family is nice too.
One year we went to NYC to visit my dad's family. Snow, cold, we all got sick... I'm not sure if that was the time someone slashed our tires, or another time... anyway, after that, my mom said what you said. Never. Again. :P Anyway, my dad's family didn't get together for the holiday anyway. My sister and I had a Christmas dinner with our relatively newly married cousin(s). We had store bought sushi, and tortilla chips. O_o

limecello said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

This is the closest I've been for a while but Limecello is just too fast for me.
I actually spent this Thanksgiving totally alone, my son was at his dad's and I just chilled.

Keira Soleore said...

Smoov, that opening pic is a riot!! And man, you're so democratic in where you go when. We don't travel for the holidays but do so during summer and winter breaks.

Christine Wells said...

You're so wise, Susan and so hilarious! We often host Christmas but this year we're at my mother's which will be lovely (hey, whenever someone else can be brought to cook for me, I'm there, and my mother cooks very well indeed!) However, that's Christmas and I'm sure we'll get to talking about that soon enough.

You all have me wishing we had a Thanksgiving tradition too, only I think if I had a choice, I'd put it as far away from Christmas as possible! Maybe something to think about for next year...

Love the tan marks on the turkey!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats Lime! And FUN POST, Smoov!

Last year was GREAT! I spent it on a plane enroute to... TURKEY! Yes, I went to Turkey on Turkey Day and I only WISH I could have done the same this year. :-P

Ten years ago, I was in Oz on T.giving. We ate fish and chips and enjoyed the warm spring sunshine. AHHH!

Yes, I'm a total Bah, HUMBUG about the holidays. This year, I'll be in Acapulco for my bday (Dec. 18th) and who knows... I just might STAY!

AC

Virginia said...

Great post! On Thanksgiving day we went to my husbands family and on Saturday my family came to my house for our dinner! So right now I have a very messy house to straighten back out but we had lots of food and really enjoyed ourself. It was a very busy day. My sister will cook our Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve and we will eat at MIL on Christmas day.

Helen said...

Congrats again limecello

What a fun post Susan. As a child we always spent Christmas with my Mums family and then on Boxing Day with my Dads family but as we all got older and got engaged and married it got a bit harder but I have always had Christmas lunch with my family and to this day still do. I could not imagine not being with them for lunch. Although we have lost Mum and Dad my sisters still always have lunch together well 3 of us do one of my sisters lives in Queensland and tries to make it down every 2nd year and she is coming this year, so the 4 of us and our families will be enjoying the day on the Central Coast at Linda's place (she is close to the beach and has a pool)all of my kids and my grandchildren will be there as well then they will leave to have Dinner with their in laws and Hubby and I are staying the night so the 4 of us can have some fun YAY. We don't get together often so we make the most of it when we do.

So my family's tradition of lunch together has held firm for many years and will hold firm for many more.

Have Fun
Helen

Susan Sey said...

Limecello, you rooster nabber! I'm starting to think HE'S your holiday tradition!

Susan Sey said...

Anna C wrote: I laughed at you setting out like a travelling circus of old to entertain the masses!

Oh, Anna, that's EXACTLY what it's like. (Okay, monkeys in the cage. I said IN THE CAGE! Lions? Lions! Honey, where are the lions? No, I said YOU should pack them. I was wrangling the acrobats.)

It definitely does get easier as they get older, though, and there's the pleasure of knowing we're giving them experiences that they'll actually remember. Plus I love helping them build important relationships with far-away family. It's totally worth the work in the end.

Susan Sey said...

Limecello wrote: One year we went to NYC to visit my dad's family. Snow, cold, we all got sick... I'm not sure if that was the time someone slashed our tires, or another time... anyway, after that, my mom said what you said. Never. Again.

Oh, Limecello, that sounds like one of those unforgettable disaster holidays. We've all had one of those. For us it was the year Uncle Bill baby sat the little kids (me included) while stinking of a day-old bender while my parents raced down into inner-city Detroit on Christmas Eve to rescue my Uncle Harry whose car had broken down under some scary, crack-infested overpass.

It was a year to remember, for sure. At least I was at home, though. There's that. :-)

Susan Sey said...

hrdwrkdmom wrote: I actually spent this Thanksgiving totally alone, my son was at his dad's and I just chilled.

Isn't that just a lovely, lovely thing sometimes? Just enjoying your own company, having your own day, taking it easy and really relaxing? I hope you had a wonderful day. Ate exactly what you wanted & watched some movie to which your son would've objected strenuously. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Keira wrote: And man, you're so democratic in where you go when. We don't travel for the holidays but do so during summer and winter breaks.

And you are very wise to do it thusly. :-) I've decided that holiday travel is mostly about emotion, not practicality. I remember the first holiday I spent away from home--I was twenty two years old, living a three hour plane ride from my family, and I decided that I'd go home for Christmas but not Thanksgiving. They were a month apart, & I couldn't see springing for two plane tickets.

So I invited a bunch of friends over and hosted a great Thanksgiving party. I was doing great, having a wonderful time, & then I called my mom to ask her a question about the mashed potatoes. The instant I heard her voice I started bawling. What was I DOING? These people weren't my FAMILY! I was so far from HOME and everybody else was THERE....

WAAAAH!

I pulled it together enough to enjoy my party but decided that I wasn't quite ready for solo holidays just yet. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Christine wrote: You all have me wishing we had a Thanksgiving tradition too, only I think if I had a choice, I'd put it as far away from Christmas as possible! Maybe something to think about for next year...

I hear you on the joys of letting somebody else tackle the cooking. But I have to say, Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. There's no gift-giving, no religious tradition associated, it's just a great meal with the whole family where you take a moment to be deeply thankful for the blessings of your life.

Like you, though, I do wish it were farther from Christmas on the calendar, though. I could really use a great holiday somewhere in, oh, late February, early March. Something to break up the dragging, endless monotony of a Midwest Winter...

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: Last year was GREAT! I spent it on a plane enroute to... TURKEY! Yes, I went to Turkey on Turkey Day and I only WISH I could have done the same this year. :-P

AC, you crack me up. Going to Turkey on Turkey Day. As the Duchesse would say, SNORK.

I envy you Acupulco, though. Definitely stay for Christmas if you can!

Where's your favorite holiday travel destination? I'll bet you've seen some beautiful places on some special days...

Susan Sey said...

Virginia wrote: On Thanksgiving day we went to my husbands family and on Saturday my family came to my house for our dinner! So right now I have a very messy house to straighten back out but we had lots of food and really enjoyed ourself.

See, I totally envy people with family close enough to do this sort of thing. Split the holiday, sort of. I think it would be so cool to have family near enough at hand to drive to their house whenever we felt like we needed a family fix.

On the other hand, because we CAN'T split the holiday, we never HAVE to split the holiday. There's never that "Okay, let's get dinner on the table by 2 because we have to get to our other family's dinner by 5" pressure. When we visit somebody, we are there to STAY. :-)

Pissenlit said...

Bwa ha! Congrats again, limecello! :D

Eep! I feel the pain of your eldest. I used to be the one with the notoriously touchy stomach.

Like limecello, I don't have to worry about sharing the holidays with anyone else's family yet. We usually just stay at our place and my mum's really low-key when it comes to holidays(we usually don't even have a turkey 'cause with only mum, my brother and I, there's a lot of leftovers and my mum doesn't even like turkey). Thanksgiving, we stay in. On occasion, some or all 3 of us will go to the big Christmas celebration on Christmas eve thrown by one of my great aunts & uncles(mum's divorced and this is the Other's family...though luckily, he doesn't show up) if a)we can get a ride from someone and b)we feel up to it and slightly more often than not(though public transit is not fun on Christmas), we'll head to another great aunt & uncle's(same side but a lot less relatives are invited...long story involving lots of technically half/step-relatives) Christmas dinner. And then some or all 3 of us will go to my little 2nd cousin's(same side) birthday party on Boxing Day.

All of my mum's family is in the States and we rarely get to see them 'cause they don't come up(my grandma can't travel very far) and we can't make it down there very often.

Susan Sey said...

Helen wrote: I have always had Christmas lunch with my family and to this day still do. I could not imagine not being with them for lunch. Although we have lost Mum and Dad my sisters still always have lunch together

Helen, this is lovely. I have three sisters myself but one is a six hour drive away, one is a nine hour drive away & one is a twelve hour drive away. Sometimes we meet in the middle (the six hour mark, which happens to be Chicago, which is nice) but it's rare for all four of us girls to be together.

And of course now that my kids are big enough to be left for a long weekend, my sisters are deciding to have babies of their own. So it'll likely be a while before we have a true girls weekend again.

I'm envious of your tradition. That's really wonderful. Have a great time this year!

Susan Sey said...

Pissenlit wrote: We usually just stay at our place and my mum's really low-key when it comes to holidays(we usually don't even have a turkey 'cause with only mum, my brother and I, there's a lot of leftovers and my mum doesn't even like turkey).

You know, I am constantly amazed at home many people go to all the trouble of roasted a huge turkey on Thanksgiving that they don't even like. Honestly, it's waaaaaay too much work if you don't care for turkey. What do you have instead? Is there a special holiday meal your family likes?

Gannon Carr said...

Susan, great post! As a mom of 3 I can totally relate to the craziness of travel with kids. Except when our first born was very small, we have not traveled to FL for Christmas and our families were understanding. My dh is an only child, so my in-laws usually came to our house, which was great. They have both passed away, so our holidays are quieter.

My sister moved close to us last year, so Thanksgiving and Christmas last year and this we've spent with her and my nieces and we love it!! My parents came up a couple of years ago, but it's harder for my mom to travel. :( I'll be going to FL after the New Year to spend time with them. I'll probably be ready for some warmth and sunshine by then. :)

Susan Sey said...

Gannon wrote: My sister moved close to us last year, so Thanksgiving and Christmas last year and this we've spent with her and my nieces and we love it!!

Oh, this is the stuff my dreams are made of! Every time any of my sisters expresses a desire to move I beg, I plead, for them to consider moving closer to me. So far, it's not working out so well. :-(

But hope springs eternal, especially around the holidays. I'll use you as an example the next time I put the pressure on. :-)

Cassondra said...

Hey Susan! Great blog. Omgosh, this is such an issue for a lot of families!

We used to do two dinners on the SAME DAY every year--for Thanksgiving AND for Christmas. We live in the same town as my husband's family, and only about two hours from my folks. My mom wants the holiday meal at about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and will not budge. My MIL wanted her holiday meal at 5 in the afternoon, and would not budge. So for YEARS we drove to my mom's, had the meal there in the early afternoon, then immediately jumped into the car and drove back here to have a meal with his family. It ran us absolutely ragged and made every holiday unpleasant. No relaxation. NONE. Even though I was not cooking I was still run to death and dreaded the days.

Finally I said "ENOUGH." And I've never done it since. I switched off. One family one holiday, the other family the next. And then my dad passed away, and then STeve's mom passed away, so now I cook at home, and my mom and his dad come to US for holiday meals. I cook on the day because up to now that's been my only day off.

But this year I changed jobs and I have had THE BEST WEEKENED! No travelling, no running, no stress. I am loving it. The freedom of saying, "I'm not gonna," is phenomenal. I love it. This way on the holiday meant to refresh and renew, we actually ARE.

Pissenlit said...

Susan - Honestly, it's waaaaaay too much work if you don't care for turkey. What do you have instead? Is there a special holiday meal your family likes?

Ya, that's what my mum says, though I convince her to get one or at least a whole chicken once in a blue moon. I enjoy picking at the carcass in the days following, with a bottle of ketchup at my side. :) For special occasions, my mum prefers to make(or sometimes orders in) some Chinese food she doesn't usually make.

Nancy said...

Susan, what a fun post and a sensible system! The dh's family lives 2000 miles away, while mine parents lived about 20, so we've seldom done holidays with his family. He has a strong preference for being at home on holidays and having our own traditions. We did once go to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and it was lovely. On Thanksgiving morning, as we flew out of here, the airport was a ghost town. We came home Monday, avoiding the Sunday crunch, and that wasn't bad.

Before my parents moved into a retirement community, we used to go up there or have everyone here for Thanksgiving. At Christmas, we went up there for dinner Christmas Eve, then had stockings here in the morning and went up there. After they moved, we went up on Christmas Eve, had lunch and gifts with them, and stayed home on Christmas Day.

Having a toddler at home on Christmas morning was wonderful. He liked to play with things as he unwrapped them. Since he started with his stocking gifts, we didn't get to the tree for a couple of hours.

Now that he has moved into the Age of Electronics, however, the sense of wonder has faded. *sigh* But I'll never forget the Christmas when he was 21 months old and hurried into the living room, only to check at the threshold, eyes wide, when he saw Tigger peeping out of his stocking.

The dh makes Swedish pancakes (hi, Beth) on Thanksgiving morning, as his mother used to. And the first ornaments on our tree are five woven-paper baskets (flat to preserve them, though they were made to hold hard candy) passed down from his Swedish relatives.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Susan asked: "Where's your favorite holiday destination?"

Someplace I haven't been yet! LOL!

Okay, seriously Mexico is really lovely at Christmas time, at least the west coast where I've been. The decorations are simple with lots of flowers, but gorgeous. I've been in Acapulco at Christmas before and because it is built on the hills around the harbor, the lights are quite spectacular at night. Plus there's the whole warm weather part. The weather is generally cold and nasty here, but the west coast of Mexico is sunny and warm.

AC

Donna MacMeans said...

Susan - What a fun post! I suspect the holidays at your house would be a hoot. Hmmm...maybe the banditas will descend on the next at-home year!

I remember holidays spents with aunts & uncles & cousins and only really appreciate it now that it's history. Our family is too spread out to gather everyone at grandmother's house - or course, it doesn't help that grandmother in this case passed away a couple of years ago. Alas, both parents on my side and my dh's side are gone so there's no debate over where to go.

When the kids were babies, I also insisted that we be home for Christmas - Thanksgiving I was a bit more flexible about. So we'd travel to each family the weekend after Christmas. No wonder the holidays were so exhausting!

Like AC, I'd be content to travel somewhere warm for the holidays. The kids are grown, no babies yet to coo over, I wouldn't mind seeing holiday lights strung out over a palm tree. However, AC, you know you can't stay in Mexico. We'll come and get you (but we'll wait till the coldest day up here in the Northern climes to travel down south). (Grins)

Lisa Cooke said...

Hi Susan--I know what you mean. My husband and me have local family so the holidays weren't a problem until the kids grew up then--blammo--everything changed. I try my best to accomidate, for instance, this year Thanksgiving dinner was Wednesday evening, so the son and his new wife could travel to her father's for Thursday. I decided long ago that the important thing about the holidays was the family, not the day on which the family finally got together.
Lisa

Susan Sey said...

Cassondra wrote: The freedom of saying, "I'm not gonna," is phenomenal. I love it. This way on the holiday meant to refresh and renew, we actually ARE.

Absolutely! You're getting a big AMEN from me on that one. That sense of refreshment and renewal is EXACTLY when I'm talking about. And it only happens when you are truly happy to be where you are, no matter what it took to get there. Some people dig holiday travel, and being "there" does it for them. For others it's being true to themselves and staying home. For me, happiness came only when I found a balance between both.

You sound so relaxed and sincerely happy, Cassondra. It made me smile right through the computer. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Pissenlit wrote: For special occasions, my mum prefers to make(or sometimes orders in) some Chinese food she doesn't usually make.

Now there's a woman who knows how to celebrate the holidays. :-) Does she share it? Or is it just for her? Because as a mom of fussy little eaters, I have to say one of my great joys is getting take out after they've gone to bed and eating all by myself, exactly what I want, without anybody else eating off my plate.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: Having a toddler at home on Christmas morning was wonderful. He liked to play with things as he unwrapped them. Since he started with his stocking gifts, we didn't get to the tree for a couple of hours.

And I LOVE that the kids enjoy their presents as they open them! It's perfect, and so gratifying to the giver. So what if it takes all day? It's Christmas! What else are we going to do? It's an at-home year! Let the kids stay in their pjs all day! Let them open presents one an hour! Yahoo!

Okay, so this is another thing where my husband & I have different traditions. He's from a free-for-all present opening family. Everybody dives right in, wrapping paper flies and in about twenty minutes it's all over.

In my family, presents are doled out by "santa" (my dad in a santa hat), they're opened one by one as the rest of us ooooh & ahhhh, & yes, it takes all afternoon. But I feel very strongly that Christmas is very much about the joy of giving & if you don't get to watch somebody open a gift you chose for them, where's the joy?

I want my kids to learn to really love giving gifts & the pleasure of pleasing somebody else. How are they going to learn that if they never have to be patient & watch somebody else open a gift?

And, okay, I'm really on a rant now, but the other thing that bugs me in terms of gifts is the trend I've been noticing lately where kids don't open their presents at their birthday parties. They open them later on, after the guests have gone home. I don't know what the idea is--more time for fun & games, maybe?--but I think it's so important for kids to understand that sometimes it's just NOT YOUR TURN. Sometimes it's somebody else's turn & we need to give them opportunities to practice that kind of graciousness.

Okay, rant over. I will now return you to our regularly scheduled blow.

Susan Sey said...

AC wrote: I've been in Acapulco at Christmas before and because it is built on the hills around the harbor, the lights are quite spectacular at night. Plus there's the whole warm weather part.

Ooooh, it sounds gorgeous. Next year is my husband's family, and they're an adventurous, travelling kind of clan. Maybe I can convince them to go to Acupulco! I'll mention that bit about the warm weather. :-)

Nancy said...

Susan, we do gifts one by one as well. My family always did it that way, and we've continued that. As you note, kids need to learn that someone else gets a turn. And they need to learn to pay attention when people open gifts from them.

Susan Sey said...

Donna wrote: I suspect the holidays at your house would be a hoot. Hmmm...maybe the banditas will descend on the next at-home year!

And that is the beauty of an at-home year! You're all welcome! I'm at home and anybody who feels like coming over will be welcomed with open arms! I realize I'm a little late this year but the next at-home holiday will be 2012. Mark your calendars!

Nancy said...

I think--never having done it--I'd like to see what Christmas is like in Yorkshire. If I had the money to buy a pied a terre anywhere in the world, it would be there. I love the countryside and the horses and the ruined castles. The Lake District would be second, but everyone wants to be there, it seems. And the Devon hills, whence my ancestors hail, or the Cornish cliffs near Tintgel, might be fun.

Susan Sey said...

Lisa wrote: this year Thanksgiving dinner was Wednesday evening, so the son and his new wife could travel to her father's for Thursday. I decided long ago that the important thing about the holidays was the family, not the day on which the family finally got together.

You sound like the BEST mother-in-law, Lisa. I bet your DIL appreciates the heck out of you. My MIL is the most wonderful, loving, accomodating woman on earth & I treasure her. She and my FIL are coming to us for our at home Christmas this year & we can't wait. I hope the family is fighting over you this Christmas!

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: As you note, kids need to learn that someone else gets a turn. And they need to learn to pay attention when people open gifts from them.

It is my contention that this is how a gracious society is built. Impressing upon small ones how to behave when it ISN'T YOUR TURN. I'll bet your boy is a treasure, Nancy.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: I think--never having done it--I'd like to see what Christmas is like in Yorkshire. If I had the money to buy a pied a terre anywhere in the world, it would be there.

Oooooh, anywhere in the world? I think I'd have to travel a lot more to explore my options before I could commit. :-) Paris strikes me as a lovely place to spend Christmas, but then I've never been to Italy. Hmmmm. I'm going to have to think about this.

Susan Sey said...

I wrote: Okay, rant over. I will now return you to our regularly scheduled blow.

Heh. I meant 'our regularly scheduled BLOG.'

Though, if anybody had a blow scheduled, go for it. :-)

Tawny said...

Oooh, the fun of holiday sharing!!

The first year my husband and I were married, we claimed Thanksgiving (his parents usually went camping that week and mine lived up the street, so it was an easy claim to make) which means we never have to travel for that particular holiday. Over the last few years, we've shifted the big family Thanksgiving celebration to Friday so people can stay all day instead of leaving as soon as they wipe the crumbs from their chins to hit another meal.

We did used to split Christmas, spending Christmas Eve at the aunt-in-laws, Christmas morning with the in-laws and Christmas day at home with my family visiting. Then we had our youngest daughter and I used the same claim as you did... I don't want to haul this baby all over the place!!

The funny thing was, since everyone had Christmas Eve commitments, I decided that was the year to start a quiet, small family celebration tradition and told my husband I'd cook him a roast (as a vegetarian, I don't cook meat, so this was a treat for him!) and then, figuring the family would all go to their other 'places' I casually mentioned that they were all welcome to come to dinner. Damned if they didn't! I think it was the novelty of me cooking meat and their need to see if I'd really do it.

Since then, if they are in town, the family is here for Christmas Eve dinner, and often a late breakfast too. But at least every other year we travel to Idaho en masse (my family and my brothers') to spend a couple weeks there with my grandparents, mom and then hunker down at the cabin for snow fun.

Nancy said...

Susan wrote: the next at-home holiday will be 2012. Mark your calendars!

The boy assures me part of the world will, in fact, survive 2012. He has seen the movie and so knows fer sher. *g*

I'm betting on Jessica Andersen's Nightkeepers to save our collective keysters.

Nancy said...

Susan wrote: I'll bet your boy is a treasure, Nancy.

You never know for certain what kids have absorbed. But he seems to care a great deal about how his gifts are received, so we take this to be a good sign.

And having his first girlfriend has provided powerful motivation. *g*

p226 said...

Our families are local. So we can actually split the day amongst my family and my wife's family. Probably the only tradition that's out of the ordinary for us, is that we were always allowed to open one present on Christmas eve. The rest of them had to wait until Christmas.

Thanksgiving this year was a bit different, because we hosted for my family. Everyone came to my place to eat my wife's delicious turkey and pumpkin pake. Yes. I said pake. It's not pie. It's not cake. It is pake. And it is a force of unfathomable power.

And yes, I've spent Christmas away from family more than once. But by far, the funniest of those is detailed here:

http://boat-tail-hollowpoint.blogspot.com/2007/12/christmas-eve.html

Most of you have read that. But for those who haven't, it's an interesting view into another world.

Pissenlit said...

Susan - Does she share it? Or is it just for her? Because as a mom of fussy little eaters, I have to say one of my great joys is getting take out after they've gone to bed and eating all by myself, exactly what I want, without anybody else eating off my plate.

Oh, she shares it. Mum has always subscribed to the Here's-dinner-and-if-you-don't-like-it-then-you-can-either-eat-it-anyway-or-find-your-own-food. :D

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey Susan!

I like your way of dividing the holidays. When we still lived in Columbus, we divided the holidays, every other year, Thanksgiving or Christmas in Canton with my husband's family. This was because as a hospital nurse, I also had to balance required holiday shifts with family obligations and letting the kids be home to open their presents, too.

Then we moved to Florida and then Texas, so holidays are always at home. I do the late dinner on both holidays, and the kids all go to in-laws earlier in the day.

Joan said...

Though, if anybody had a blow scheduled, go for it. :-)

What the??????

I missed something today that's for sure, LOL

jo robertson said...

Hi, Susan! I read your post and then got interrupted and forgot to comment.

This year we spent a very quiet, just the two of us Thanksgiving. We've had a lot going on this year and, much as we love our family of 30, we enjoyed spending the day alone, very quiet and peaceful.

Caren Crane said...

Um...we have never taken to the "holiday at home". One year, we were supposed to be at my mother's (as usual) but my family came down with a barfing virus on Tuesday night. We stayed home. My mother came up to see us. My poor brother was stranded at home by himself.

This was years ago and I still remember standing in the meat department at the grocery store, staring into a freezer full of frozen turkey breasts with tears in my eyes. A sympathetic butcher saw me and answered by tearful query about how long it would take to thaw one of the monsters. He told me and I'm pretty sure the tears started falling. I told him my sad story and the weight of my obvious unpreparedness and my terror of ruining everything must have touched him. He went and mangled a whole fresh turkey and just sold me the breast. I think I cried the rest of the time I was in the store.

Thanksgiving was fairly crappy, but my mother was wonderful. We packed up a bunch of stuff for her to take home to my (then-unmarried) brother. I NEVER want to spend Thanksgiving at home again! Not while my mother is living, at any rate. I was thrilled to be with my family this year, even though it wasn't the huge pile it usually is.

My husband's family are all deceased, so there is no worry about divvying up time any longer. We have made our own at-home rituals that are part traditional, part chosen and part accidental. *g* I love them all!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, you would have been great company for me and my family. We always need more hands at the Scrabble board! *g*

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren, I sort of felt that way the first year in Florida. And in trying to make my family feel better about being so far away on a holiday I overcooked! Ended up with enough left overs to feed a small third world nation!

Susan Sey said...

Tawny wrote: and then, figuring the family would all go to their other 'places' I casually mentioned that they were all welcome to come to dinner. Damned if they didn't!

Oh, Tawny, I'm sorry to laugh but...I'm laughing. :-) Isn't that always the way it goes? You say something just to be polite and darn it if people don't turn up? I think it must be a sign of how much people love you, because if given the out, people do NOT go places they don't want to go.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: I'm betting on Jessica Andersen's Nightkeepers to save our collective keysters.

OOooh, I hadn't thought of that. Apocolyse Holidays. You know what? I'll host anyway. The worst that can happen is we incinerate the turkey when the world ends, right? At least we'd all be together. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Nancy wrote: And having his first girlfriend has provided powerful motivation. *g*

Oh, yes. It is. :-) I'll bet that's fun--and terrifying--to watch from a mother's perspective.

Susan Sey said...

P226 wrote: Everyone came to my place to eat my wife's delicious turkey and pumpkin pake. Yes. I said pake. It's not pie. It's not cake. It is pake. And it is a force of unfathomable power.

Ooooh, we have something like this. All pumpkin pie-ish on the bottom all cake-ish on the top. It's officially called Pumpkin Crisp but we call it Pumpkin Crack.

And I loved your blog post re: Christmas hijinx on the ship. Poor Williams. I bet he didn't live that down for a long time. Hoorah! clopclopclopclop....

:-)

Susan Sey said...

Pissenlit wrote: Oh, she shares it. Mum has always subscribed to the Here's-dinner-and-if-you-don't-like-it-then-you-can-either-eat-it-anyway-or-find-your-own-food. :D

Yeah, baby! That's how we play it at my house, too. Only I add on the there's-the-peanut-butter-and-the-cereal-shelf addendum. My kids are little & need more direction. :-)

Susan Sey said...

Suz wrote: I do the late dinner on both holidays, and the kids all go to in-laws earlier in the day.

I'll bet you're a much cherished Mother-In-Law, Suz. My MIL is a paragon of gracious, flexible, loving behavior, & I only hope that one day my kids' spouses will love me half as much as I love her.

Susan Sey said...

Joanie wrote: What the??????

I missed something today that's for sure, LOL


Oh, yeah. The blow/blog thing. See, Nancy inspired me to a rant about kids learning to enjoy giving presents as well as receiving them. So when I finished up, I said, "Okay, all done. I will now return you to your regularly scheduled blog."

Only I wrote BLOW.

Your regularly schedule BLOW.

Ack.

So I went back & corrected myself. But then I thought, "Well, if anybody HAS a regularly scheduled blow (like, you know, a cut & a color? A wash & a blow? Right? Right? Nothing else?? Certainly nothing dirty, get your minds out of the gutter!) they should definitely go ahead with it. :-)

You see how I got myself a little tangled up.

Susan Sey said...

Jo wrote: We've had a lot going on this year and, much as we love our family of 30, we enjoyed spending the day alone, very quiet and peaceful.

I hear you on that score, Jo. We had a Summer Of Family Drama around here & I was back & forth to Michigan three times between April & August. I love my family, but I've never so enjoyed having a nice, quiet holiday in my life!

Susan Sey said...

Caren wrote: I NEVER want to spend Thanksgiving at home again! Not while my mother is living, at any rate. I was thrilled to be with my family this year, even though it wasn't the huge pile it usually is.

I hope my kids feel the way you do, Caren! I hope they all live close and come home often!

I think the holidays are so very much about doing what you WANT to do, & that's what makes it special. If travelling to family is an obligation that stresses you, that's one thing. But if going to your mom's for the holidays feeds your soul, that's something else entirely! Then I say get those kids in the van. Santa knows where to find us. :-)

Nancy said...

Susan wrote: Apocolyse Holidays.

That could be a paranormal seasonal anthology . . . *g*

Nancy said...

p226, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, so that's what the dh and I do with the boy. The dh's family did everything on Christmas Eve except the big meal, but he was willing to shift the gifts to Christmas Day.

Susan Sey said...

Nancy & P226--

My husband & his brother hold a yearly debate about whether it is permissible to open a single present on Christmas Eve or if all presents should be opened on Christmas Day. I side with his brother--no prezzies until Christmas morning.

I reserve the right to make an exception for presents that should be *used* on Christmas Eve. Like pretty jewelry for midnight mass, a new crockpot that might hold the Christmas Eve Chicken Noodle Soup while we're at midnight mass, that kind of thing.

But just random prezzies? Before Christmas Morning? No thanks. You guys can go ahead but I'll wait. :-)

Tawny said...

I think it must be a sign of how much people love you, because if given the out, people do NOT go places they don't want to go.

Awww, you're sweet, Susan :-) No, it was more along the lines of going to see a dancing bear or a bearded lady. A rare anomaly that could be mocked for years to come.

And I won't even comment on the blow question. Won't, won't, won't.

Susan Sey said...

Tawny wrote:
Awww, you're sweet, Susan :-) No, it was more along the lines of going to see a dancing bear or a bearded lady. A rare anomaly that could be mocked for years to come.


Well, there's that. People do turn up for that, too. :-) But I'll bet they love you, too. Loving mockery is different than plain mockery. My family tells me so all the time.

Tawny also wrote: And I won't even comment on the blow question. Won't, won't, won't

You'd pass up low-hanging fruit like that? Who are you & what have you done with our Tawny??

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