The holiday season is upon us. I have mixed feelings about the winter holidays. We just haven't gotten into a routine or found any traditions that really stick yet. This is mainly because we've traveled most years to go visit G's mother, and this year will be no exception.
Last year was the only year we stayed home and didn't have any visitors, and I basically threw a bunch of stuff at the wall to see what would stick and re-appear in future years. Not a lot did. Despite the kids being at that "magical age", the whole Santa/gifts thing sort of fell flat. Sure they were excited to open presents, but I think it was overwhelming and led to some meltdowns later in the day. The gingerbread house building was a DISASTER. Some of the Christmas specials I remember loving as a child didn't quite hold up to the test of time. My family's traditional Christmas morning breakfast of pop-from-a-tube cinnamon rolls and OJ was disgustingly sweet for most of us.
Really the main thing I loved about the holidays was decorating, and specifically, decorating with lights indoors. Something about the little twinkly lights on a dark gloomy evening just lifts my spirits immediately. So I put up our little tree and strung a garland and lights on our banister, and put out our wreath and some greenery and holly berries for the window boxes.
I also love baking gingerbread cookies. So we'll do that, most likely when we're at MILs. I'll also bake some chocolate chip gingerbread because yum. We stopped our annual bake-for-work marathon when L came around, and I have no desire to go back to that anytime soon, but small batches for the family, where the kids can help and its OK if things look terrible is more fun.
I took the kids to look at a holiday light show in a park, and they were underwhelmed with the show but enjoyed sitting by the fire pits and eating junk food. I'd like to do that again or just go look at the neighborhoods that go all out with the outdoor decorations. We usually hunker down on cold evenings, so deliberately going somewhere and being outside after dark is novel and therefore special to the kids.
I used to LOVE going to fancy work holiday parties and getting to dress up! I know people complain about it, but I love having an opportunity to wear a fancy dress and heels and sparkly stuff once a year! Neither of our jobs has anything like that anymore---G's party is for staff only and is right after work. Ours is actually AT work and is lame. I'm skipping it this year, since my friends from out of town will be here on Friday. I miss that aspect of the holidays, so I did arrange 2 outings, with my book club and with some work friends for drinks next week. Not an occasion to dress up, but at least to get out and celebrate!
Gifts...I'm not sure what I'm going to do. The boys expect something. I really don't think they believe in Santa. But they know Christmas=gifts, so I will get them something and have it under the tree for when we get home from MILs. I like the "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" approach, but I may narrow it down even further because they don't need anything, including clothes. So maybe one book & one toy per kid? I don't want to give them their gifts AT MILs because she will be sure to shower them with a million things we won't even be able to fit in our suitcases, so dragging gifts there and back is just nuts. It'll also brighten the disappointment from having to leave the life of leisure and spoiling at grandma's!
Then we have B's birthday. Again, MIL gifts will suffice until we get home. I want to get him a bike, which will take some research, there's no rush since he won't ride much until spring anyways. As a placeholder I'll get him something small like a Lego kit he was asking about. We aren't doing a friend party this year, since we're spending enough on plane tickets (and by the time I started planning, literally every venue was booked, and I'm NOT doing it at home again!) He'll get a family party with cake & pizza.
I'm on call for New Year's. So no pretending to celebrate or care! Whoo! (Don't get me wrong, after years of being on call for most holidays, I very very very much appreciate only having to do one major holiday after two years. But since I have to do it, I'll look on the bright side of not having to make an effort to stay up until midnight!)
I know this post sounds rather matter-of-fact, but I actually am looking forward to this season (at least the days pre-MIL visit) this year! I love seeing the lights up everywhere, the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg everywhere, trying to think of how to delight and surprise my kids. Its such a nice way to spend these dark days, and I much prefer it to the holiday-less dark frozen stretch of January through March (though I'm trying to think about this, and stay positive!)