After picking Alex up at a sleepover yesterday morning, we headed to Sam's, hoping to score a little free lunch. Unfortunately, we were too early for samples; however, we did enjoy roaming the warehouse looking at the Christmas gifts and decorations that already crowd the aisles. Upon returning home, it seemed the only appropriate thing to do was get the Christmas music out.
I love Christmas music. My favorite Christmas album has, for years, been Celine Dion's. Although I'm not Catholic, I absolutely love her rendition of Ave Maria. She sings it beautifully. I also like the assortment of unique songs mixed with traditional hymns, which again, she sings beautifully.
This is always a nostalgic time for me. Even 20 years removed from it, this is the season when I miss Africa the most. Yes, I love celebrating the holiday with the family I have started a world apart from my life in Africa, but every year, I get such a deep longing to be back "home" with my family.
Perhaps this homesickness I feel every year is what has made it difficult for me to obtain that Christmas Spirit feeling many talk about. Over the years I have scoured Family Fun magazines, read blogs, and talked to friends about the season and always feel a little jealous of those families that have this repertoire of holiday traditions that are so definitive of their families. They have lists of traditions their children come to expect every year, meaningful family times the children talk about years later. I've always wanted to be this family, yet I have not found it easy establishing those traditions. I don't know, maybe I try too hard.
This year I am determined to get in the spirit of the season, and I am determined to plan some fun things for us to do as a family. If some of them stick and become traditions, that will be an added bonus. I plan to take a good chunk of time off school in December so we can concentrate on doing fun things and not be burdened by the necessity of plowing through pages of curriculum. We can always school further into the summer.
Last year was probably the toughest for us, for our extended family. Tomorrow, in fact, marks one year since we lost Jennie. Last year we really didn't feel like "doing" Christmas at all, so we celebrated early and then traveled on Christmas Day. No travel plans this year, but my mind is already whirling with ideas for our December.
We won't spend a lot this Christmas. Last year Mark and I did not exchange gifts, and we don't plan to again this year. The kids just got new bikes, which we wanted them to enjoy while the weather has not yet reached the frigid mark. Although I don't know how well they will remember it Christmas morning, we told them these bikes are a Christmas gift. I know, that sounds like a mean trick to play, but don't worry, the children will not feel slighted by Santa, nor will the underneath of the tree be bare. We're just taking it a little easy this year with the economy. And, believe it or not, taking the focus off of gifts can be a good thing! Yeah, you heard me!
So I'm looking forward to a wonderfully meaningful Christmas this year, and as far as I'm concerned, the Christmas season starts now. Of course, I suppose I do need to teach the children, but only for another month and a half before we can take a big break!