Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Musings. . .

Ed. Note: Today's post is part of our international blogging group wherein some of the best bloggers in the world consider the same subject. Our assignment this time is Christmas and I now realize it is "Fantasy Christmas" which is not exactly what I wrote I'm afraid. But for truly brilliant takes on the subject click over to Marsha at Splenderosa where you will find the entire list of participants.

          "This was the best Christmas ever," I say.

          "You always say that," my daughter says. "Every year you say the say the same thing."

          And it's true. Every year. Because it is true. I love Christmas, always have, and when our tiny family is all together, dogs on the floor, fire in the fireplace, the tree glowing in the corner, Champagne in hand, what could be more perfect?

          Of course there are presents, always thoughtful gifts and they make everyone happy, but it's not that. Not at all. It's being together.

          Curiously perhaps, I don't recall many details from Christmas when I was a little girl. I do remember that the first Christmas after my father died, I was 10, my mother and I felt lost and alone as the holidays approached. Then we received a telephone call from close friends who invited us to spend the 24th and the 25th with their rather large family. For many years after we were considered part of that family for Thanksgiving and Christmas and I do remember it was wonderful. It seemed as if we were lovingly swept up in the true spirit of the season.

          Christmas for me is something to look forward to: plans, decorating, anticipation. Anticipation is hugely important for me. I like to draw everything out -- well not everything, but you know what I mean, everything good -- as long as possible. I buy presents throughout the year, tuck them away (sometimes I don't find them for two years), decide on wrappings, make sure I have real ribbon on hand, do a survey on what everyone would like for dinners and lunches and just generally get in the mood which makes me enormously happy.
          This year will be less fun I fear. Andrea and Will won't be "home" for the first time ever; they have to stay in Chicago and we have only one dog now. But My-Reason-For-Living-In-France and I will nonetheless drink Champagne in front of the fireplace with Charlotte and make phone calls.

          I'll have an entire year to plan for Christmas 2013 when we'll all be together again. Talk about drawing out the pleasure.

          If I stay on message then, my fantasy Christmas would be anywhere with everyone, the rest is just decoration.


Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

Christmas has always been a magical time for me...I just love it! My family knows I will go all out with decor, cooking, and gifts...because it gives me joy! This year we have my son's wedding right after Christmas...it is a crazy time, but so much fun! I have enjoyed all of the posts from the ladies involved!!

Splendid Market said...

Christmas is in the heart... Champagne by the fire with my daughter sounds like a lovely way to celebrate Christmas. Do you live in Paris? So happy to become acquainted with your blog through Enchanted Home. I'm living in the South of France right now, in Eze.

Catherine Robinson said...

Ah, Tish...I agree Christmas is about being together with of course, champagne in hand by the fire ;-)
I love your post...there is something so magical about this time of year...I adore it.
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas may it be filled with JOY.

mette said...

Your childhood Xmas was touching, yet relieving that your small family was adopted by nice people.
It must feel a bit lonely without your whole family around you, but - that´s life.
I´m sure that you´ll enjoy Christmas this way too.

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

Christmas has changed a lot for us too...
there are several missing at the table and it seems at Christmas it seems the realization of it more evident.
We are blessed to have a grand daughter which is such a joy.
There may be another couple or some people that might be lonely and you and your RFL may be able to brighten someone else's Christmas...
I only mention this because my friend invited a few people over to share dinner with when they found out that their sons would not be able to join them for their usual family feast.
If a quiet evening of bubbly is what your heart desires you'll make it a happy event.

Kathy said...

Sorry Andrea and Will won't be there this year. My husband and I are both Jewish, but grew up celebrating Christmas. We both had children with non-Jews, and lost Christmas in our respective divorces. So now we celebrate Hanukkah, which is fine, but doesn't have any childhood memories for either of us. Christmas Day we go to the movies generally and feel mopey.

Lorrie Orr said...

Being together is one of the very best parts of Christmas. I'm sorry Andrea and Will can't make it this year.
During our years in Ecuador I missed my family most at Christmas. I learned to shed a few tears, usually in private, then decide to have a good time. I think one must admit to the grief before one can move on to celebrate.

Maryl said...

It was I as a little girl who would ask my mother at the end of Christmas Day, "Can we please have another Christmas like this one next year." She always made it special and knew how to fulfill our dreams. Those were the days when children didn't get what they wanted throughout the year but had to wait once a year (except maybe for their birthdays) to put it all down on their Christmas list. My mother always answered "yes" of course. I believe she awaited my question, her Christmas not being complete without it.

Deb said...

"anywhere with everyone" is the dream of every mother whose children are far away. I struggle with this new reality and work to enjoy the times with the kids who can be home and be thankful that they are all happy, healthy and successful. I try not to wonder why they can't be all these things close-by!
have a wonderful day enjoying the bubbly, the hubby, the dog and plans for the whole-clan event next year!

BigLittleWolf said...

As time passes, our holidays of course are not the same. But there's so much joy in certain memories, as well as those yet to make.

I'll be raising a glass to you at holiday time, my friend. And to what pleasure you bring so many - and your incredible accomplishments this year.


Splenderosa said...

Oh, how I know what you're feeling, Tish. Maybe this year I won't see either of my children, because they both have in-laws to keep up with. I'm trying to understand and accept. I've learned that I need to make myself happy, no matter what happens.
I've already been to a friend's home for cocktails while they were decorating, and that make me very happy. Life is a series of cycles, nothing stays the same, it evolves...and that's OK. I love Charlotte...and U 2...

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

You are so right Tish ...... Christmas isn't about big presents and extremes and indulgence .....it's about family, even if they are only on the end of the phone, and it's about simple things. I'm sure that you will miss your family this year but, you have each other and I know that this will still be your best Christmas EVER !! XXXX

Lost in Provence said...

Tish, I just returned last night from a visit to the States to be with my family for Thanksgiving and a big party for my Sister's 48th birthday (thrown by her new beau and with all of her friends). So I have had my holidays a little early. I will spend the end of this year with my honey and my pupper and be grateful for that too. But like D I will be raising a glass your way. It has been quite a year for you...Bisous!

Anonymous said...

Well, yes, this is part of being
"A Femme d'Un Certain Age". The together times that we planned on
are changed. Heartsick moments and then we move on. Because you are you the day will come and go with
joy and you'll have something to
look forward to in the new year.
I always remember how your wash your
doors before you put your wreath up.
Cheerful, good work.

Anonymous said...

Such a resonant post. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas even without your daughter there. I'm not quite there yet, but feeling it creeping up on me. Last year was my first Christmas without my mother, which was very hard, but at least my brother was here. This year, he's not coming, so it will be just the four of us, my husband and our two girls. We've never before had "just us" for Christmas.

I'm also seeing my future, since one daughter is in college and the other will be, next year. I'm sure the day will come when they will spend the holidays with significant others instead of good old mom & dad. Definitely NOT looking forward to that. I do love Christmas, but it is absolutely about being together with the people you love, and the gifts are definitely secondary. Not sure how to deal with a lonely Christmas, but I will have a few years at least to work that out......

---Jill Ann

Deborah Flanagan said...

I'm looking forward to "the best Christmas ever". Our family has rented a wonderful apartment in Paris for the holidays. We will shop for gifts and Christmas dinner. We'll walk the lighted streets and visit the churches. The one missing piece is that a daughter and son-in-law cannot make the trip.
We planned this trip last Christmas day when hubby and I were home alone while he was taking surgical call.

Karen Albert said...

The Holidays have changed from times past. What remains the same is the love of family and friends and being together with all that we can!


Amelia said...

Hi Tish, this is a beautiful and heartwarming post. How very true. Christmas is about family and basking in the warmth of their company and love. Those of us whose children won't be home for Christmas, no doubt they'll know how much they're loved and going to be missed.

Amelia xx

david terry said...

Oh, Tish....what a lovely, wistful posting.
As I may have said, Herve and I bought a 220 year old house back this summer. My Father (quite married to my mother after 55 years) came on his own visit in September. This past weekend (with this tiny town's Christmas Parade scheduled for Saturday), my younger, very handsome&earnest younger brother came.....bearing the gifts of my 75 year old mother (all of my family, immedaite and extended, still lives in the same, small, Tennessee town), his wife (whom I like immensely), and their two boys (10 & 15). My very lovely sister-in-law (a nurse by profession) and her parents are also from our hometown.

Unfortunately, her father (whom I've seen at every Christmas for over twenty years) died, quite suddenly, this past year, and this will be the first Christmas without him....which will take some adjusting, particularly for her mother (whom I also know well and like immensely).

We were sitting around the fire late this past saturday night when I mentioned how much I'll miss that certain point (this happened EVERY Christmas morning for twenty years) when my sister-in-law's mother (who had an extremely hard & difficult, underpriviledged life before marrying a goodhearted, fairly gruff, career-military man and having their daughter) would just bust out crying in front of everyone.....declaring "Oh, I'm sorry, everybody...I'm really SORRY......i'm just so HAPPY...."....and her husband would put his arms around her and, grinning widely, tell everyone "I always say it's just not 'Christmas' until Miss Margaret cries"....and they'd both hug each other while she kept on snuffling, while we explained to the grandchildren that Grandma Casey is crying because she's HAPPY...

Sitting around the fire this past Saturday night, we all agreed that it just won't feel like Christmas without Bill's being there to tell us that it's just not christmas until Miss Maragaret cries over her own happiness in life.

That said?......give yourself an early present and go to:


thanks as ever, Tish, for your fine blog,

David Terry

Vicki said...

The great Christmases past, when I was the little girl, are the Christmases for which I've longed and can't seem to ever repeat. My family diminished rather than grew. As opposed to adulthood, my childhood was filled with large family gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas with much to do; a lot going on...so many festivities, relatives, a perfect mix of adults and children, dogs, cats, bunnies, birds; a lot of happy chaos. My parents and their siblings had meager holidays growing up in the U.S. American Great Depression of the 1930s followed by world war, so very much took advantage of a more free and bountiful later-adulthood which included fun vacations together and sometimes an embarrassment of riches at Christmas. My aunt's home was sumptuously decorated with a towering, white-flocked live tree which she decorated with handmade white doves, cool blue and silver (glass) ornaments (a frosty, snowy, elegant look which did not smack of modernism or commercialism whatsoever). Particular, specific traditions were kept with each aunt and uncle. Another aunt had similar decorating expertise, her favorite holiday colors being red and gold; walking into her gilded harborfront home, with sparkling lights on the sea and marina in companion to the glow of her lovely interiors was nothing in comparison to our rosy Shirley Temples (non-alcoholic mixed drink for kids) in grown-up glass goblets, our uncle tape-recording our little voices reciting The Night Before Christmas as the warmth of candlelight made everything dreamlike and special. I am enormously grateful for parents who went to the effort to make Christmas Eve and Christmas morning "times to remember."

I am soon to be all that remains of my first family and, if I've learned anything as I transition to being a woman of a certain age, it is that things cannot and do not stay the same. I do have to summon a great reserve of strength and optimism in the seasonal holidays of today, and I've learned to cherish my memories instead of wallowing in a pitiful way. Part of getting into the holiday spirit is the doing of it. You have to do the shopping, the baking, decorate, listen to carols and, if you even set the table for one or two, it is enough, not less.

Besides losing treasured human loved ones in recent years, I lost my ten-year-old, beloved boy-dog this past summer...my big protector and faithful, loyal, noble companion; and I miss him every day of my life despite the joy and companionship of my two female canines, especially my big-girl shepherd (much like your Charlotte) who is morphing into the big boy I lost in terms of dedicated watching-over, just to mention one of her many, intelligent attributes. But I will shower both "girls" with hugs and huge love as I would have him, tie big red bows or scarves around their necks, make myself happy with small joys (I light up over new, sparkly ornaments I bought last week) and smile genuinely at the letter carrier who brings me a paper greeting card or two (a dwindling tradition). It wasn't always like this for me in the last few years. I would lose the desire to make a celebration, and Christmas became something to just "get through" and get over. I decided this attitude was something I needed to eradicate because it wasn't fair to my husband and it wasn't fair to ME! I had to give myself permission to celebrate...that I was worth it. And I am. I'm glad, despite the absence of loved ones this year, you know that you are, too.

Happy Holidays, Tish. Thank you for this wonderful, thought-provoking blog; it is a joy to visit and you've taught me much. I apologize for overly-long comments. Cheers to a stellar 2013!

david terry said...

Dear "vicki",

I don't, as a very general rule, know what Tish is thinking a continent and ocean away from where I'm typing, but?....

All I have to say is that, insofar as my opinion's worth anything, there's no such thing as an "overly-long comment" (for which you "apologized")....and I really was touched by your comment, which I read a few minutes ago.

As we all know, a dispiriting number of folks use the internet/blogs/"anonymous"-comments-sections to write nasty, mean-spirited things to and about folks they don't even know. Apparently, it's very easy(and, one gathers, somehow gratifying) to be so mean-spirited.

Just for the record?.....you shouldn't be apologizing for your "overly=long comment"; I (and a number of other readers, I hope) should be thanking you for it.....I thought it was a fine and good thing to read as I start my own christmas season. Perhaps others thought similarly.

Quite sincerely,

David Terry

Tish Jett said...

Vicki, David how did I get so lucky? There is no such thing as a comment that is too long. I treasure every one.

I hope all you -- and everyone who commented and took the time to visit, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that -- have a wonderful holiday in whatever way makes you happy.

Vicki said...

It's a love fest. And that's never a bad thing!

Thanks again, Vicki

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