Days of holly


holly-berryThe holly days can be wrought with immense pressure around seeing people or being seen, gift giving, baking cookies, mailing Christmas greetings, and decorating the home.  Most recently, my husband’s immediate family planned a get together prior to the actual Christmas holiday since my sister-in-law, husband and their two young sons are headed midwest for a couple of weeks to spend time with his family.  They alternate  holidays every other year between the East Coast and the Midwest to be fair to each side of their families.  This year, it’s Thanksgiving in Jersey and Christmas in Chicago.

Since we have an infant, Christmas Eve for my side of the family will be at our home (thank goodness!), and we will spend Christmas Day with my husband’s extended family (all 48 of them) at his aunt and uncle’s home in North Jersey.  I remember when I spent my first Christmas with his side.  The number of people, adults and kids included, overwhelmed me.  It’s not possible to sit around  a table and have hours-long conversations like we do in my family.  Folks grab their food – buffet style – and go wherever they can find a seat.  It’s a challenge to engage in other than small, surface chatter.  But I try.  When we first spent the holidays together with his family, my husband made his plate, found a seat in the living room and took a book out.  He left me to fend for myself among his cousins, aunts, and uncles.  When the time for gift distribution arrived, kids’ unwanted presents were casually thrown to the side as wads of wasted wrapping paper filled garbage bags.  Thankfully, a glass of wine or two took the edge off.

Now that I have a child, I couldn’t pass on the home decor as it’s all about her.  We have our Charlie Brown, infant appropriate sized Christmas tree, bright colored lights, and a couple of Filipino parols (lanterns).  And yes, the presents are wrapped.  Knowing that our family will be generous in their gifting, my husband and I didn’t go crazy buying her Christmas presents — just a couple of rattles that promote her developmental learning.  Still debating whether or not to have her photo taken with Santa.  I’ve got a few more days.

As we gear up for another year of festivities,  I rely on my childhood memories to keep me sane.  Like the meaning of Christmas through the eyes of Charlie Brown.  Shopping is kept to a minimum, most of which is online.  What I want to pass along to my daughter:  The days of holly are not just about about Santa or the presents, but the time we choose to cherish with our family and friends.

I’m looking forward to goofing around with my mom, cousins, their kids, aunt and uncle as we sing carols and get some holiday karaoke in, and share in a feast of our favorites — palabok (Filpino wet rice noodles), sashimi, and let’s not forget the wine!

In the words of Charlie Brown, “I won’t let all this commercialism ruin my Christmas!”

How do you keep your days of holly untainted by the dissonance of commercialism?

With much heart . . .  – Sheelagh

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