It's that time of year again. Thanksgiving has come and gone. The masses have ventured out before dawn for the 'shopping experience'. I still ask myself WHY? For clarification I must let you know - I am not a shopper. I do not like crowds. And I think people in general are extremely rude to one another and should stop and listen to themselves more often.
My family believes my cynicism is a result of my employment. Let's face it - in five years I can count on one hand the number of times someone called to tell me they liked what we did or that we did a good job. Anyway...
Despite all this, I love this time of year - I really do. I think Thanksgiving is such a special day, when family and friends gather together. Our years away from family were never vacant - we filled the holidays with friends who were away from family as well. Some of their traditions have joined ours. We sit at the table together and recall fond memories and share stories - and they are with us again.
I love all the preparation for Christmas. The music, the smells, the colors and all the memories that come with each day. I love the old movies - Miracle on 34th Street, A Christmas Story (You'll shoot your eye out Ralphie), and It's a Wonderful Life. I just wish it were possible to actually spend the day with more family members. So many are miles away.
When I grew up we gathered with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Gifts were often made by hand and with love. Inquiries were made about likes and desires. The planning seemed to add to the anticipation. Everyone oo'd and ah'd over the carving, the handknit product, the sewn by hand garment, the photograph, the painting... or even the store bought addition to a special collection. The sentiment was sincere. The feeling was genuine. You knew the thought and love that went into the gift you received was meant just for you.
I have returned to making gifts over the past few years. I try to think of likes and hobbies and create a gift that will be put to use and appreciated. Outside of my immediate family they aren't well received. My nieces proudly show me how they still have something I gave them a couple of years ago. I see my own gang using their gifts. A smile always returns to my heart.
That isn't always the case. It is difficult for a sweater or a stocking cap & scarf to compare to an expensive Ipod or video game. It appears the dollar value holds a great deal of importance to some. Actions speak louder than words.
Part of the difficulty is our family. There are many quirks. We are not the Norman Rockwell version. We are the 21st Century version with a lot of ins and outs.
We have long distance relationships with family that stay in touch - if we call. I place myself in the middle because of my personal desire to have everyone together...
In the past I've reminded my husband to keep in touch, but don't do that any longer. I call my parents and my family. The rest you cannot force.. If family doesn't choose to call on holidays or birthdays, I try not to take it personal. It's just the way things have developed. We are grateful that the relationships have grown to this point.
We want our family to know they are special. We hope that our gift giving will reflect this whether or not it is store bought or expensive. With finances being what they are for so many, we hope a well thought out family gift will be enjoyed as well. We hope the gift will be enough to evoke in their own minds the thought that miles don't have to be a barrier in this day and age. We hope it is seen as encouragement for growth.
As frustrating as it all is - I return to my immediate surroundings where I make lists for baking, and candy making. I organize the Christmas card list and think of pleasantries to share with our family and friends. Instead of racing to the mall I enjoy a hot cup of tea and see the progress on my latest project (ok - so maybe a little cyber shopping too). Mall or no mall, we still want our family to know we are thinking of them and hope they will appreciate the thought and time we put into their gifts.
Stay sane, drive careful and remember to call someone and tell them you are thinking of them! That's what the holidays are all about.