Friday, November 21, 2008

Way More Homemade Holidays

See the cute little button in the sidebar? Just to the right. Yes, today is the day! Alrightythen, I'm excited to see what everyone shares in the Way More Homemade Holidays Carnival! Looking for a few new traditions to start in our new home/life/ministry here in Argentina so this should be fun :-)

Ever since deciding to participate in the Carnival I've been jotting down ideas about what to share. What would YOU be interested in knowing?

Would you like to know about how I started picking out one special ornament each year for my kids when they were little? It sort of evolved after several years of participating in a homemade ornament exchange at my church. Each year I'd bring home more and more ornaments. And one year the son was especially enchanted with a set of adorable wise men made from felt. While the daughter, still a toddler, couldn't keep her eyes (or grubby little paws) off the shiny beaded ornaments. So I let them have their favorites that year and the next and... Then we moved and I didn't have an ornament exchange any more. So for a few years we didn't get any new ornaments at all (not a hardship when you consider we'd accumulated HUNDREDS during my sojourn in homemade-ornament-exchange-land).

But then I saw the cutest little ornament that was perfect for my son! So of course I had to buy it. Then realized I'd have to get one for my daughter. And so the tradition was born. The goal each year is to buy an ornament that signifies something special in their lives for that year...a patriotic Santa the year my daughter turned 18 and was able to vote...the young adventurer wearing a safari hat, hiker's vest, wearing flippers and carrying a camera and backpack for my son the year he joined us in Africa and spent every chance out hiking and exploring...the Raggedy Ann ornament when the daughter played that role in a Christmas play...You get the idea. The last few years I've also added my hubby, getting him airplane or handyman ornaments. And because the other associate pastor lived with us for six years I included him as well, but with a twist. The first year the guy practically lived at the church so I somewhat jokingly bought him a church ornament. When it became apparent that his practically-living-at-the-church-lifestyle wasn't something he was going to outgrow, I kept buying him church ornaments. After the third year it became somewhat expected, y'know?

Or maybe you'd like to know about some of our weirder gift exchanges? Living on a shoe string budget can really get those creative juices flowing! I'm sure many families have gone the route of truly homemade gifts. My favorites were the gift certificates for a meal cooked by my kids, or a promise of a dreaded chore done by my hubby. But one year we drew names and then decided we had to give our person something we already owned. Honestly, the only one I remember is that my hubby re-gifted his leather jacket to our teenage son. And he LOVED it! And just a couple of years ago, an especially LEAN year, the son came up with the unique idea of PRETENDING! We chose gifts AS IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT. We either cut out magazine pictures, clipped store flyer ads, or downloaded online information about the items we'd give each other, then beautifully wrapped them. I'll tell you, that was so much fun finding out how much thought they'd put into it! If money had been no object I would have gotten some pretty cool gifts, some I didn't even know existed :-) We had a lot of laughs that particular Christmas!

Would you be interesting in knowing how, in an effort to make Christmas more sacred and less commercial, we moved our gift exchange to January 6th (Three Kings Day) which wasn't much of a stretch for the hubby who grew up in Latin America where this was customary. This gave us the added benefit of being able to wait and buy things at the after-Christmas sales and save a LOT of money! On Christmas Day we always baked a birthday cake for Jesus. [Note: When the kids were older and especially after the son was married, we went back to the traditional Christmas day exchange by default. When you're dealing with multiple families, things change.]

Some traditions are simply due to happenstance and not at all planned. When I returned to college to finish my degree, I was able to buy tickets at the student discount rate so the year my daughter was four we attended the Nutcracker Ballet. Oh.My.Word! Incredibly beautiful and moving and SO MUCH FUN! We dressed up for the occasion, even though it was a matinee. I'd chosen balcony seats because I wasn't sure how she'd do and wanted to be able to unobtrusively get her outta there if she started acting up. Well she did just fine, but there were moments when she was so overcome by the music that she had to stand at the end of the aisle and twirl like the ballerinas on stage. Since we pretty much had that section of the balcony to ourselves, it wasn't a problem. We enjoyed it so much and on the way home she said, "Mommy we should do this every year!" And so we did. For many years anyway. There came a year when we couldn't find a production near enough to make it practical to attend. So instead we went to see Gift of the Magi at a nearby college. Also beautiful, poignant and SO MUCH FUN! And the year after that we went to Africa. And the tradition was simply lost.

But gotta tell ya, I MISSED the Nutcracker! And last year my lovely daughter-in-law thoughtfully organized a trip for the whole family to see the Nutcracker Ballet. How sweet is that?! A special memory that I'll think about every year as we are far, far from our kids. Maybe they'll institute this tradition with their own daughters down the road (when they have daughters, that is).

So that's a few of the things we've developed into traditions over the years. Writing about it has made me quite nostalgic and not a little homesick! So I'm counting on y'all to come through with ideas of new traditions we can incorporate right here in sunny Argentina, where Christmas comes in summer and instead of snuggling around a fire while the wind howls and the snow blows, we're outside firing up the asador for an Argentine bar-b-que! Now let's all go check out what the others have to share over at Way More Homemade Holidays!

P.S. For one of our absolute favorite holiday dishes, I posted the recipe and the story last Saturday.


Elizabeth said...

I love our home made ornaments... I even hosted a few of the ornament parties a few years but it got harder and harder to find people who enjoyed crafting.
BTW - we have your sweet potato casserole on our menu for Thanksgiving to be made with the sweet potatoes I grew in my garden this year. (and of course as per your suggestion we are doubling the recipe)
Love, Lizzie

rita said...

The Nutcracker is showing in Marion this year and I've been thinking of Kayla and Leah...I wonder who else would/should go...Tina?
I enjoyed this post with all the memories of Christmases past!

junglewife said...

Dan's standard question around this time of year is "What do you want for Christmas?" He's looking for "big dream" answers, not realistic ones. There was one year when his answer anytime someone asked was "The nobel peace prize"! So, I made him a fancy-schmancy certificate awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize, and boy was he tickled pink! Just thought it was the greatest thing that I had called his bluff :-) So much fun!

Way More Homemade said...

Kim - What a great post. We also get a new ornament every year... it started as my mom always did it for us and now I like doing it for my kids. Thanks for sharing!