Friday, December 14, 2012

Old School Christmas Shows and the Flu - It's a Family Tradition

I don't know why I can't seem to get back into a blogging rhythm.  This blog has been such an important part of my life for the last 5 years and it pains me that I have lost touch with what inspired me to start blogging/writing in the first place.  But I don't want to analyze tonight.  I just felt like I needed to give I Am Boymom some post love, so my blog knows I haven't forgotten or abandoned it. reference to the title...Christmas in our house is probably not like Christmas in most houses.  Some of that has to do with my upbringing.  We lived with lots of different people and got bounced around a lot.  Consequently, we didn't really get to establish "family traditions" in the normal "Christmas-y" sense.  My husband's family tries with this big family party at his brother's huge house.  It's a tough crowd.  Let's just say they have their own special brand of dysfunction.  Not judging!  Soooo not judging.  Just stating the facts as I see them.  

Back to the point...So even at this late date, as my kids are becoming teenagers, I am still trying to establish some fun and memorable holiday traditions.  I suck at it.  I never know what they will enjoy and I think I try so hard to make things work that I end up being stressed, which makes everyone else in the house stressed and before you know it, everybody's frustrated and no one is having fun and I feel like a failure.  Again. 

Well, tonight it kind of hit me that we do have a few traditions of our own.  They may not be GREAT and WONDERFUL traditions, but by gosh, they are ours and the fact that we have anything at all that we repeat each Christmas is progress.  And maybe my epic FAIL at trying something new tonight is making me lie to myself about whether what we do is indeed a tradition, but at this point, I'll take what I can get. 

First tradition we have is TV.  Not a great tradition, I know.  But at Christmastime it works for us.  We try to catch every Christmas movie or special on TV, starting on Thanksgiving and going through Christmas day.  What we don't catch on TV, we rent.  It was fun when we grew up to watch Rudolph and Frosty and Charlie Brown and it's even more fun to watch them now with my boys, who laugh hysterically at the thought that we found these shows enjoyable when we were kids.  "The graphics suck!"  "Why do they make the adults talk like wierd aliens?"  We try to explain that we didn't have Computer Generated Animation then!  Puppets and stuff were state of the art, dudes!  What I love though, is that no matter how much they yammer on about how "lame" some of our holiday shows were, they always sit down and watch them with us.  We bond over Old School Christmas TV shows. 

Another tradition we have is that we always put together a few stockings full of food and water, soap, razors, snacks, shampoo...little things like that.  Then we find someone in need, maybe someone living on the streets or in a shelter, and the boys offer the stockings.  We've had some amazing conversations after giving our stockings out about charity and how life circumstances can turn on anyone and land them in a position to be in need of help.  The boys understand how important it is not to judge people based on immediate circumstances or appearances. They are compassionate young men who have empathy for others and they look forward to giving their stockings to people every year.  I'm glad they have the chance to serve and share with others who are struggling even more than we are.  It's good to see the world from another perspective once in awhile.  I hope this tradition is something they will carry on when they leave our home.

The last tradition we have is not one we choose, but one that seems to get thrust upon us almost every year.  It's a really crappy tradition, literally and figuratively, but the one thing it does is force us to slow down a bit and regroup during the hectic season.  For whatever reason, someone always ends up sick with flu or a horrible cold during Christmas!  It makes me crazy!  One year my husband woke up on Christmas Day unable to move his head or neck and in excruciating pain after he stretched!  He stretched, people!  Didn't know you couldn't do that on Christmas morn without repercussions! 

Being sick makes whoever is sick cranky.  Christmas isn't a time for crankiness!  We are supposed to be happy and focused on family and giving and the spirit of the holidays!  Instead, someone is sneezing and hacking or pooping and puking and downing Nyquil or Thera-flu by the gallon trying to be functional for all the events. No one can enjoy the dysfunctional family Christmas party when they feel like crap!  It's hard enough to enjoy it when we are well!  But like I said, the one thing it does is force us to slow down and prioritize.  Do we really need to attend 8,000 Christmas events?  Do we really need 100 homemade, hand decorated sugar cookies or can we be happy with refrigerated, store bought cookie dough and sprinkles this year?  It compels us to take better care of each other in a season where we talk of Christ and try to focus on the "reason for the season."  It brings us closer to one another as we serve and nurture each other. So while we would not necessarily choose the "Christmas illness" tradition?  We have learned to live with it and it has kind of just become part of the Holiday tapestry we are trying to weave.  Weird, I know.  But it's something, and as far as traditions go, isn't something better than nothing?

So that is my recap of our family traditions.  Not great, but we have forward motion.  And as I'm writing this, I remember that I had a whole other, much shorter post planned.  Pictures showing the results of my attempt at Christmas Craft night.  And when you see it, you will know why I started this post by trying to convince myself that we are making "tradition" progress and why I don't always have the gumption to push forward with finding new ones:

My oldest, who deals with fine motor skill issues and absolutely hates crafts, put this bad boy together with some pipe cleaners and a foam ball.  I know.  A cat with tape on its paws could do something nicer.  I had a picture for him to look at, but after about 10 minutes he was bored and thoroughly frustrated.  This from a kid who will spend hours precisely placing army guys in formations for battles.

This is one of those scratchy things that starts out all black and then you scratch designs in the back to reveal the colors.  My youngest started a design then decided it was taking too long and scratched off the entire black cover and then walked away from the little pile of black shavings that were all over his work space, declaring he was done and "by done, I mean I'm going to bed.  I don't feel good again."  In his defense, he has been home sick with some kind of stomach issue for 3 days (maybe the illness portion of the holiday came early this year and we can relax and enjoy the next few weeks).

This would have been a really cool ornament cover had I actually been able to sit down and do some beading, but the sick kid and the bored kid finished so fast that I had to give it up and mediate the fussiness that ensued.  I called it a Christmas Craft Night FAIL at 8:30 and everyone went to bed.  

Maybe we'll try Craft Night again next year.  Or maybe not.  Maybe we'll just watch National Lampoon's Christmas vacation, drink some cocoa and call it good.  And we'll have "the hap hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny freak-ing Kay!"  Clark Griswold understands my pain.


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