Friday, November 14, 2008

I'll be home for Christmas...

After much soul searching, my family and I have made a life changing decision. We are staying home for Christmas. Most of you are probably saying, "Duh... who doesn't stay home for Christmas?" And the answer is me... and my entire family. Its My Big Fat Greek Wedding, without the Greek and making it Christmas dinner instead of a wedding.

I lived in Iowa in the same town as my grandparents, aunts and uncles (save one set) and cousins until I was 14, when we moved to Kansas City. Despite the move, we still traveled to Iowa for Christmas every single year. This year would make the 16th time. Our Christmas dinners consist of roughly 30 or so people crammed into my Grandma's house. Its loud, crowded, HECTIC, and lovely. I told my husband prior to our engagement that Christmas is the one holiday that I was non-negotiable on. I go to Iowa, I spend it with my ENTIRE family... period. Take it or leave it. So even after betrothal and marriage, we still went to Iowa. Now I have children, and I am changing my life long family tradition.

I dream of a Christmas for my kids like I had, before I moved to Kansas. I want them to wake up and run to the tree and see an unbelievable pile of gifts waiting for them. I know, Christmas is about Jesus's birth yada yada yada, but its also about creating memories that last a lifetime. And I remember the tree, and us in our pjs, and tearing into gifts and then playing with them until passing out. In Iowa, we open gifts Christmas morning, but its after we all shower and we hurry through it, pack up the toys into our car and start setting up for the Christmas feast. Its no one's fault, and its not a bad way to do it with adult kids, but this year my son Will is going to know about Santa for the first time. And I want him to think Santa came here, to his home. My Mom and I were struggling about how to get his gifts to Iowa because they're large, and don't tell her... but Tabbi is getting a bicycle. I want her to come down to the family room and see the bike with a big red bow and not open a picture of it in Iowa because it couldn't fit in the car. Some dream of a white Christmas, but I dream of the right Christmas and for the first time, I am going to make it happen.

That being said, deciding to stay home this year could be one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. Christmas to me isn't Christmas without my Grandma, my Aunts and Uncles, my cousins and now my cousins' children. We will have Christmas dinner here, and I already wonder how loud that quiet will feel. I will miss Grandma's insistence on doing the dishes after dinner, and the giant cookie tray that she makes and refills 100 times during that day. My Uncle George camps out in the recliner and makes these super funny, while slightly off color remarks that make you laugh and cringe at the same time. Heidi, my cousin, dresses her girls in these gorgeous Christmas gowns, and its like watching a holiday fashion show when they come in. And we do a family gift exchange where every adult brings a gift for under $30 and we do it "white elephant" style. So, you could end up with a Dooney and Bourke handbag or a farting Santa Claus (depending if you get my cousin Tim's purchase or my brother Mike's).

What's worse, is I feel like I have made my parents and brother choose a side and that feels horrible. Who is anyone kidding, my parents picked their grandchildren, and rightfully so. My brother is still figuring out the logistics before he commits to anything. So, I run the risk of my first Christmas without him in 30 years (because I'll be 30 by then). But, I guess the way to look at it is that we are starting a new family Christmas this year... complete with mass on Christmas Eve (but skipping dinner at Great Aunt Rosemary's) and opening gifts in footie pajamas, but missing out on the prime rib. We will go to Iowa on the 26th, so I will miss the crowd by 24 hours, and the idea of that still breaks my heart... but I hope to fill that break with the smiles and awe that will fill Will and Tabbi's faces when they see that Santa has come... to their home.


tuffy said...

nothing like learning about Christmas plans from your sister's blog. :)

we can still have prime rib, but ours won't have to be way over cooked!

and lets face it, the farting santa was the greatest christmas gift ever.

but try not to "yada yada yada" the incarnation of Christ.

much love,


Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Mike - Somehow I knew the yada yada yada factor was not up your alley. Didn't mean disrespect, just meant "don't comment that Christmas isn't about the gifts, but really about the God stuff." I know that... but its about gifts too. And I told you about Christmas already, remember??? And, farting Santa was pretty good. Thank God, George ended up with it.

tuffy said...

ha, i know it was a joke. i was just pretending to be offended cause it's more fun than just letting it go.

as Godfather of 1/3 of your children i propose a new tradition in which on Christmas eve we read a book or something on the real story of Christmas.

then we open really cool presents. :)

Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion if you decide at a future time to go back to your family's big Christmas--We live in MI & when my son was young, we spent Christmas in Indiana & New Year's in Nashville, TN (or the reverse), so never got Christmas morning at home. We decided to pick a Sunday a week or two before Christmas & make that our day at home. We would hang stockings on Saturday night & treat Sunday as if it was Christmas, exchanging our gifts then. We told my son that Santa was out testing the reindeer & knew he wouldn't be home on Christmas, so would be stopping at our house that weekend. It was nice having our own Christmas & then we didn't have to take our gifts with us when we travelled.

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Mike - I like that tradition a lot.

Anonymous - That is a good idea too. This year I think we are staying put, but if that changes, I like your suggestion. Thanks!

Amie said...

Well, even though you'll miss out on the Christmas feast and activities of the actual day at your Grandma's, you'll still be there...and still see everyone, and that's what's important.
When I was growing up Santa always came on Christmas Eve. My parents and I would go out to eat, and when we got home Santa had came and all of the presents were there...then we would go to my Grandma's on Christmas. That always worked well...but she lived closer than Iowa!

taraerpelding said...
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taraerpelding said...

I don't know how to post things. I’m terrible at this. I just wanted to write and say don't feel bad at all. We're not coming home until the 27th for that very reason. All kids deserve Santa to come to their house. I don't think anyone cares as long as we make it home at some point for the holidays! Everyone will totally understand. I look forward to seeing you guys on the 27th or 28th!!

I agree it’s tough to miss the actual day, especially the farting Santa moments!

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Amie - That isn't a bad idea, but then we are traveling pretty far on Christmas Day. Like you said, Iowa is a little farther. And I promised myself I would never make anyone travel on Christmas.

Tara - Thanks for that. I had heard that you and Andy were staying in Seattle, which planted the seeds in my head. Which means, its your fault so if anyone is mad they should blame you!!! Just kidding! We've been thinking about it since before last Christmas, but I finally just decided there is a way to have it all. Christmas doesn't have to be solely on December 25th, you know?

Homa said...

I'll even come over on Christmas Eve...what else could you ask for?

Domestic Goddess (In Training) said...

Homa - Changed my mind... Iowa, here we come!!!