...because we all have our motley moments!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Over-Extended Christmas

This year our Christmas was less like Norman Rockwell and more like Rocky and Bullwinkle. The three Carvers left our house on Wednesday, drove eight hours to southern Indiana, and spent a day and a half with my husband's family. On Christmas day, we again loaded up the family truckster to drive four hours to my parents. One short day and a half later, we packed up all of our goods and spent seven hours driving the four-hour trip back to our house through a winter storm.

We still have to purchase and open our gifts, and I still have Christmas cards to mail! I even have a few more things I need to finish making! Alex is strung out from eating his weight in food additives and preservatives, and I am too shell-shocked to even decide when Santa should leave his gift for Alex.

Last year, we celebrated our Christmas on the Orthodox Christmas in January because we were traveling and that is when most Russians celebrate Christmas. That way we could incorporate some of Alex's Russian heritage. While that is a good plan, I am wondering if Alex is missing out on something by not being at his own home for Christmas...?

The only thing I know for sure is that I can NEVER celebrate Christmas like this again. Does anyone have good ideas for balancing Christmas with extended families who live out of town? I hope your Christmas was merry and bright no matter where you were, and I would love to hear your ideas - good or bad :)


Donna said...

I particularly want to hear the bad ideas...they'll be way more entertaining. ;)

Here's one to kick us off: It sounds like you have the best of both worlds - visiting family for the traditional Christmas celebrations, then landing back in your own nest for final preparations and celebration of Orthodox Christmas. Here's the bad part: IT'S STRESSING YOU OUT...it sounds like too much Christmas to me. Let Santa come on traditional Christmas night so that you can enjoy your visits with family without the "next Christmas" hanging over your head. You can make a special cake or something for observance of the Russian tradition in January, but why treat it like two separate Christmases...sounds confusing and overwhelming to me.

My final piece of advice: Keep it simple - for your sake as well as your family's. A stressed out mama is no fun at all! Enjoy your celebrations, however you choose to do it!

Liz said...

I don't know if this would work for you, but we make everyone come to us for Christmas. We are all 4 together first thing in the morning so the boys can open their gifts, then other family is welcome to come over later. Of course, in your case, that would mean having a houseful of people staying with you for who knows how long, so maybe this falls into the "bad" idea category. I'm with Donna on one thing, though - keep it simple. All I do is send cards and buy gifts for about 6 people and that's enough to stress me out.

Karly said...

This was the first year that our children were in there own beds on Christmas Eve and woke up to open presents in their own house on Christmas morning. On the one hand, it was a little weird not being with our extended family. But mostly, it was wonderful and special and relaxed and pure. One of our best nuclear family Christmases because we got to do it just the way we wanted to. And no traveling which is huge since traveling with young children is so stressful, especially around the holidays.

My suggestion: Keep Christmas day for your little family. Stay home, open presents, lay around in your P.J.'s. Then visit your relatives on other days during the "holiday season" to celebrate together, either before or after Christmas day. Or as Liz suggested, have them come to you.

Good Luck finishing up this year and planning for next year! I am definitely writing notes to myself about to do and what not to do next year, thanks to Rachel!

jeannine said...

We also have family out of town, and we go every other year with each family. One year we go to MN, spend the week or so of Christmas at my parents house,and it's busy, but wonderful. The next year we stay home and visit my hubby's family who lives locally. We get to wake up Christmas morning in our own beds, have the traditional "Christmas morning" family time, then later head out to Grandma's. It's hard not seeing half the family for Christmas each year, but its really the only way we can keep things somewhat simple.

Pam said...

Thank you all for your great ideas! I LOVE the idea of spending the whole day at our house in our pjs - I am very envious of your Christmas Karly. Jeannine - I really like the idea of traveling only every other year. It seems like the best of both worlds. Thank you Donna for your good ideas of keeping the orthodox Chrismtas simple. I am, after all, not orthodox - why add extra stress. Liz - I like your idea the best, but I am reasonably sure our families will not go for it as we live in the middle of nowhere. Also, does anyone have good ideas to limit gift giving. Liz only buys for 6 people. How can I make that happen?

Thanks to all of you for giving advice. I would really like to keep Christ in Christmas one of these years!

Donna said...

Here's how we keep it simple: In Paul's family, we pick a name and do "secret Santa" gifts for adults. In both families, we gave a reindeer pot of homemade goodies to each household and called it good. (My sister and I agreed ahead of time that we adults would not exchange gifts...my other sister had already bought for everyone, so I found her a little something to open. Everyone in both our families knows we are on a tight budget.

On Christmas morning, our kids each get one gift from us and one gift from Santa. This year they also got a shared gift from us - that cool wooden building set we got from the Celebration yard sale for $10 - and it's been the absolute FAVORITE gift (they didn't even notice or care that it was not brand new).

I stressed out at the last minute as I frantically cut and glued the felt story pieces for a storyboard for KID 2. I finished it in time, it cost us less than $10, including the gold frame, but the stress just about killed my Christmas spirit.

I bought a few stocking stuffers after Christmas and hope to pick up a few more, since everything is now 50% off or more. I will just keep a bag up on the top shelf of my closet for stowing stocking stuffers as I find good deals throughout the year...I totally forgot about stockings this Christmas and managed to scrounge up enough to fill them at the last minute. Not fun.

I really felt like I had a handle on things until I got sick two weeks before Christmas. I'm still not totally well yet, but I truly enjoyed our celebrations. We only bought gifts for 4 people other than our children, so we kept our expenses very small. We don't have the travel expenses that several of you have during the holidays, nor the added stress of packing and moving our little people from state to state, which I'm sure can be fun and exciting and totally exhausting.

I feel like we are refining our simplicity each Christmas season. It gets better and more meaningful for us every year!

Pam said...

Awesome - thanks Donna! BTW - I hope kid 1 had a wonderful birthday! Please tell him Alex misses him and wishes him a happy birthday!

A Scrap of Time said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Scrap of Time said...

My extended family (which is huge) used to buy gifts for everyone... this was expensive, and no one got anything good because no one could spend a lot on any one person. Then we decided to only by for the kids which definitely helped... a lot less stress! We have started a new tradition of decorating cookies, and playing games like pictionary. It's much more enjoyable, and we all have fun just spending time together.