holiday traditions

Are You Mom Enough?

Last month our writers shared some of their holiday traditions and plans for the upcoming season. In November, we continue our conversation about holidays. How do we juggle visitors, travel with small children, eat well amidst all that delicious food and most importantly, take time to just BREATHE? This time of year can very quickly become stressful, so we hope our writers' words this month will give you a few moments to slow down, think about how you're spending your energy and encourage you during this busy, but wonderful time of year. ~TMC  We all remember the Time Magazine article with this title that was discussing the “freakishness” of attachment parenting trends.  Well, I’m here to ask, “Are you mom enough?”  My question pertains to something totally different, though.  I want to know if you are mom enough to know when you need to take a break.

I find it very difficult to admit when I am in need of a break.  I feel like I go, go, go until burn-out is too quickly approaching.  I’m talking about all forms of burn-out, not just parenting burn-out.  This is a great fault of mine.  I think this is probably a commonly dormant trait for females that gets ignited sometime between conception and birth.

It is very easy to overextend ourselves in the less busy times of the year, but even more so in the holiday season.  With the holidays just around the corner, I highly recommend getting a plan in motion so that burn-out is less likely.

If your baby is 6 months or under, this is probably not the year to invite your 60-member family to your house to demonstrate your Martha Stewart-like cooking skills for Thanksgiving day.  This may be the year to opt out of your family's Black Friday 2am rat race tradition and choose the more peaceful Cyber Monday for Christmas shopping.  While these may be exaggerations, planning this year to be a more peaceful holiday season so that burn-out does not occur may be just what the doctor ordered for you and your family.

So ask yourself this, “Am I mom enough to take care of ME, so that I can take care of my family?”  Plan a little peaceful time during the peaceful season.  Take a walk by yourself.  Enjoy a chapter in a book, or even a whole book.  Drink a latte.  Go on a weekend getaway.

This is supposed to be the time of year that you cuddle everyone a little closer, create life-long memories, start establishing traditions and enjoy your family.  Taking that break and refusing to allow burn-out will only make that time even more precious.

The Most Wonderful(ly busy) Time of the Year

Last month our writers shared some of their holiday traditions and plans for the upcoming season. In November, we continue our conversation about holidays. How do we juggle visitors, travel with small children, eat well amidst all that delicious food and most importantly, take time to just BREATHE? This time of year can very quickly become stressful, so we hope our writers' words this month will give you a few moments to slow down, think about how you're spending your energy and encourage you during this busy, but wonderful time of year. ~TMC  As I write this, it's a Saturday night, 9 pm, and I've just finished changing the sheets on our bed, doing a quick-clean of the bathroom and have a load of laundry in the washer. I also still have a pile of ironing next to me, dishes in the kitchen and I can see the dust glowing smugly under the lamplight of my desk. And I know that next Saturday, the dust may be gone and the ironing will be caught up (OK, that's a flat out lie. I'm pretty sure it's been there for a month)...but there will be other things to do, things I feel should have been done already. It's a constant cycle for me - for any mom I think - and a hard one to win in my mind. 

I had a mini-silent-panic-attack today, as I realized that in 2 weeks, our son is turning one and the party I've planned, while so much fun, is a lot of work. Once that is over, the holiday season is in full swing, and I'm letting myself worry about how it's going to go. Last year, I had a newborn who had just been diagnosed with some seriously awful reflux, so while we tried to enjoy the holiday season, it's all a bit of a sleepless-nights/crazy hormonal blur. This year, while I still really have no clue what I'm doing, I'm at least comfortable having a baby (most days),  but have never had one during the 'normal' holiday season. What will be the same? What will change? Will I miss parts of it from before? Mostly - how in the world am I going to actually take time to enjoy it?

Working between 25 - 30 hours a week outside of the home, one of my biggest struggles as a mom is taking time to stop and enjoy the moment. There is always something that should be done, and the ever-lingering 'mommy guilt' (that I know is not from God) likes to lurk around in the shadows, trying to steal those moments because 'this one more thing' must get done. Often it feels like I'll never not feel like I'm running to catch up.

But tonight, while doing those quotidian tasks, I was thinking: what is it I remember about holidays growing up? What do I love even now, now that I've been 'on my own' for a good number of years? I love: cramming a bunch of family around a table and giving thanks and eating way too much; watching football in our sweats and eating leftover turkey for a week; going to the Christmas tree farm every year the first weekend after Thanksgiving; celebrating Advent by lighting the candles every evening and singing; going to stores and hearing Christmas music everywhere; taking time to wrap each gift carefully and place it 'just so' under the tree; pulling out the 'partridge in a pear tree' towel for the kitchen; watching movies like You've Got Mail and White Christmas and Miracle on 34th Street; traveling and welcoming family; celebrating with friends into the wee hours to welcome the New Year.

You know what I don't remember? I don't remember if my laundry was done, or if everything was perfectly dusted, or if there were dishes piled in the sink. In fact, those dishes represented a house full of family, love and laughter. So, this year, while it may be new and a little bit different than before, those are the things I want to focus on. Things like the sound of my baby boy laughing with his daddy, things that 30 years from now, I'll still remember and cherish...while I do the ironing that most assuredly will still be there. 

 

 

Kan Traditions

With the changing leaves and falling temperatures, there's no doubt that fall is here! As mothers, we always try to stay a step ahead of the chaos and this month we're taking some time to share our thoughts on holiday celebrations, family traditions and maybe some new ideas about how to enjoy the upcoming season. So grab that cup of cinnamon-spiced coffee, prop your feet up on a pumpkin and enjoy what our writers have to say this month. ~TMC My husband and I have enjoyed establishing our family and getting to talk about different traditions we bring from each side, as well as what new traditions we want to begin with our children.  There are two main activities we have decided to make a part of every Christmas celebration.

1. The Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

The Advent Calendar is something that neither of our families ever used growing up, but Andy and I have enjoyed making it a part of our Christmas the last two years.  There are so many you can choose from.  I opted for making ours.  I sewed 24 draw-string fabric pouches to allow myself plenty of variety.  I also made 24 magnets with different Bible passages that together tell the Christmas story.  Every year, I also buy 24 little treats.  So far, I’ve only used candy, but since Gabriel will be old enough to enjoy opening the pouches this year, I’m also going to include little gifts for him—stickers, balls, homemade treats.  Every morning, starting December 1st, we go to the basket with the pouches.  We take the pouch for the day, open it, read the passage from the Christmas Story, place it on the fridge, and enjoy the little “treat.” It’s a very small part of our day, but it’s a neat way to make the Christmas joy last longer.  We enjoy a little gift each day, while remembering the greatest gift in our lives, as well as so many blessings we can’t even name them.  I hope this is something we continue every year with Gabriel—that he will look forward to that anticipation that is so precious in children, and that we as adults tend to forget sometimes.  Hope is a beautiful virtue that we can instill in our children, and when we hope in truth, it will never disappoint.

2. Get a gift, give a gift.

Gifts

Another tradition that we hope to establish once Gabriel becomes more understanding of his possessions is to have him choose a toy to give away at every birthday and Christmas.  We hope to find an orphanage, toy drive, or other donation means by which our children can learn the joy of giving to others in need.  For adults, we have so many means by which to give—finances, time, a meal from our kitchen.  For children, they really only have the gifts they receive as a means to give in return.  We hope to encourage our children to choose one gift to give away every holiday.  We would love to even encourage sacrificial giving—maybe even a favorite toy, or one that we know a child in need would really enjoy.  We hope this will help balance the mentality of only “getting.” This will also help cut out all that accumulation as well J.

We’re still adding to our list of traditions!  What ways are you intentional during the holiday season?

Christmas Tree Hunting

With the changing leaves and falling temperatures, there's no doubt that fall is here! As mothers, we always try to stay a step ahead of the chaos and this month we're taking some time to share our thoughts on holiday celebrations, family traditions and maybe some new ideas about how to enjoy the upcoming season. So grab that cup of cinnamon-spiced coffee, prop your feet up on a pumpkin and enjoy what our writers have to say this month. ~TMC

For as long as I’ve known them, my husband’s family has had the tradition of gathering together the day after Thanksgiving to go Christmas tree hunting. That is, to go to a tree farm and cut down their own Christmas tree. The word family in this instance includes his parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have always looked forward to this day, even when we were dating! Since we've been married it's been fun watching our group grow. We now have new cousins, a brother and sisters-in-laws and a nephew to add to the list (as well as our own children). Instead of cutting one tree for the Guelzo family as in years' past, he and his three siblings are cutting their own tree for their own families and children. In more recent years, we have added eating breakfast together to our yearly ritual, as well as frequenting the same location, Piney Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Appomattox, VA.

It's been fun traveling down memory lane looking through some of our old photos.

(See how many times I've worn the same white scarf!)

2006

Our second year as a married couple. As you can see, my husband was still in shock that

he was able to snag me as his wife.

2007

At our favorite breakfast joint, "Granny Bee's", also located in Appomattox.

It is said that Ben Franklin wrote, "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage and half shut afterwards."

Seems Jeremiah is taking this advice one step further.

2008

Our first year that we would be displaying our tree in our house, not apartment. Our last year with no children.

We would find out we were pregnant with our son a month or so later.

2009

With our son, Ian, who was just shy of three months old.

2010

We thought we had fun before, but having Ian able to help pick out our tree that year was the best!

2011

Last year I was 16 weeks pregnant with our sweet daughter, Miriam. At this point, we weren't even aware we were having a girl.

I am so excited to be able to carry on this tradition with our children over the years (and hopefully grandchildren too!) Singing Christmas songs in the car on the way up; the smell of pine once we arrive; "oooing and ahhhhing" over everyone's picks; having a tummy full of hashbrowns, eggs, grits and coffee; the laughter and hugs and smiles and reminiscing about years' past. I can't wait to see what the hunt of 2012 will bring!

Whose Traditions?

IMG_3010

With the changing leaves and falling temperatures, there's no doubt that fall is here! As mothers, we always try to stay a step ahead of the chaos and this month we're taking some time to share our thoughts on holiday celebrations, family traditions and maybe some new ideas about how to enjoy the upcoming season. So grab that cup of cinnamon-spiced coffee, prop your feet up on a pumpkin and enjoy what our writers have to say this month. ~TMC Can I share a secret with you? As self-centered as it sounds, I never really gave much thought to how my children would experience the holidays. I just assumed they would celebrate the same way I did. Yet as Halloween ushers in the holiday season, I am aware of just how different Miss E's experiences are going to be than mine. One of the reasons is: I didn't take into account my husband and his traditions.

Of course I started thinking about holiday traditions while we were dating. His family does Christmas differently than mine, not to mention Thanksgiving.

Yet it really wasn't until Halloween last year that I realized just how different our experiences were. Growing up, my family was very religious; church on Sunday, as well as, Tuesday, Thursday and any other day special services were held. Our church was very strict compared to some of the churches I've visited today. Women didn't wear pants. Jewelry, make-up, dancing and movie theater-attendance weren’t allowed. And Halloween, well Halloween was definitely a holiday we did not celebrate. I remember last year, I was pregnant and in between trick-or-treaters, my husband talked about what his family did. He talked about carving pumpkins with Miss E and what we would do for her first trick-or-treating. I usually have a plan, but in this I had no clue. I explained to J-man we didn't do Halloween in my house. I explained I only went trick-or-treating once as a child. Most of my childhood Halloweens were spent in church.

At first I was a little saddened by the thought that Miss wouldn’t get to celebrate her first holidays the same way I did. I remember Thanksgivings spent at the homes of family filled with lots of noise and even more food. Our big Christmas celebrations were held on Christmas Eve, with carols being sung and filled with family fun. Christmas mornings were filled with visits from my Abuelo and my cousins who lived upstairs, and the evenings spent at church watching, or participating in, the Christmas play. I think even though there are many things from my childhood I want to share with Miss E, I know that they aren’t all possible. Things like getting together with family for the holidays is not going to be as easy as it was for me growing up. Both our families live out of state. As I get a melancholy feeling at the holiday celebrations Miss E will not know, I remember that as my cousins, sister and I grew up, my family’s traditions changed. Their holidays are no longer spent the same way they were when I was young.

As I typed that last sentence I realized the important thing is that we, J-man, Miss E and I, are starting our own holiday traditions as a family. So this year, with Halloween quickly approaching, I can’t help but think how Miss E’s Halloweens will be filled with jack o’lanterns and costumes, and you know what I’m quite okay with the difference. I was even excited when my husband and I bought her first pumpkin carving set, since I'm sure pumpkin carving will become one of our family traditions. Are there traditions you followed as a child that you haven't carried on with your own children? Do you miss those traditions or are you happier with your new ones?