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It’s beginning to not look much like Christmas

2009 December 25
by Rachel Turiel

It’s Christmas morning and all over the world pajamed kids are clawing at shiny ribbons, their hearts thumping with anticipation. Parents are snapping pictures, in love with their children’s happiness.

In our little house at 6512 feet, Col has just put a cloth diaper on his stuffed dog and Rose is trailing him, munching on something she found in her room. Dan is brewing coffee.

Even though we had a Christmas Eve Dinner last night–elk stew, baguettes and chocolate ice cream–the kids don’t know that today is Christmas. And I sort of love that. As I explained in a previous post, this is our first Christmas and we’ve done it all wrong.

But as my friend Diane told me recently, it’s so cool that we can all make our own family holiday traditions. Our kids are still riding in the backseat of their own lives, relying on us parents to steer, and each family’s drive looks different.

The kids opened their last gift sometime on December 23rd (the Hess race car from Grampa Starks!) in the same fashion that they’ve opened all their gifts: Packages arrive in the mail, get placed under the tree and then get opened ten two minutes later. I know this is crazy, no “magic” of a Christmas morning, no watching the delight on children’s faces as they sit for hours anchored like a boat in a swell of ribbons and wrappings.

But in a way it feels more sane, giving the kids time to absorb each gift, to test drive and remember it, to write a thank you card before the next wave hits.

In the end, we do what feels right for our family, each of us, and that’s all that matters.

Now I will go drink my coffee and make sure the unidentified things Rose is eating are actually food.

And I will be thinking of your children and hoping they are sitting in their sea of lovely, new things–or whatever your tradition calls for–with a big, big smile.

Related posts:

The differentness of winter
Homestead happenings: let there be light
Fantasy kids and kale chips


9 Responses leave one →
  1. Sheryl permalink
    December 25, 2009

    Sounds lovely. Tell me about your elk stew recipe (or any other good elk recpies you may have).

    Merry Christmas.

  2. December 25, 2009

    Sheryl, thank you, it *has* been lovely.

    Elk stew:
    First you kill an animal (roadkill works fine too).
    Marinate a choice cut for 2 days in some combo of oil, wine/beer, tamari/vinegar, minced garlic.
    Chunk up into smaller pieces and cook with onion, carrots, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower (or whatever you have on hand – this is what we had) and add water to cover. We cooked ours in a pressure cooker. You can also do a slow simmer on the stove, crockpot or in the oven for a couple hours.
    Enjoy!

  3. December 25, 2009

    Your elk stew sounds heavenly, though we’re not at all big meat eaters! My dad missed out on his venture to Colorado/Nebraska this year so no elk here! (boo). I still love the idea of fresh, real food as opposed to whatever resemblance of food the market is peddling.
    I totally get the stretching of the gifts approach, which we also practiced this year, yet still had somewhat of a mound come Christmas Eve + morning.
    Unidentified food bits are also familiar, as Ivy cruises in search of dropped pannetone and raisins… :)
    Seeing your snowy Christmas and grinning cherubs is lovely! Well wishes!

  4. December 27, 2009

    Whatever your holiday looks like to your family is what it’s meant to be. I grew up celebrating Christmas but I am trying to stretch myself and keep an open mind about new things. I was reading a book about celebrating and in a town in Mexico, there’s a holiday called Radish Day, where they take huge radishes and carve them and celebrate in the town square. It’s whatever you make it! I think I might celebrate radish day next year? Or make up my own holiday!

  5. December 27, 2009

    i’m still checking the unidentified stuff in my kids’ mouths, and they are 3 and 7! it is a full time job!

  6. December 28, 2009

    I love that little Christmas tree…so cute! I hope you are enjoying the snow as much as we are!!
    Suzy

  7. December 29, 2009

    I think this is great.. and brave to go out on your own! Love coming to read here, always something to smile about. Merry (late) Christmas.. Happy New Year too!
    Sarah

  8. December 29, 2009

    We have friends who did their kid’s birthday party that way — a kid arrived, gave his/her present to the birthday kid, the birthday kid opened it, and they had a chance to bond over it before the next thing happened.

    My son (who’s now six) had his first party where he invited friends (last summer). He decided he wanted to make gifts optional (before that we always had no gifts), so we did the presents the same way as our friend. So much more sane and real.

    I love the idea of making up our own holiday traditions. I am still figuring out our relationship to Christmas but it has always been low-key (except when we’re at my parents’ house, where it is extravagant!). I try to find as many ways as possible to avoid/minimize the overwhelmed-by-stuff experience while still keeping some magic and excitement.

    I love the image of your day!

  9. December 29, 2009

    it’s perfect.

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