We often refer to this blog as our “digital memory” - a way to keep track of where we’ve gone and what we’ve done so that we can refer back to it later when our aging brains start to fail us. Our posts here aren’t always written so much for others to read as for ourselves, but we just keep them here on the internet in case you might find a crumb of knowledge that helps you out as well.
This entry is one of those more inwardly-focused ones. It hasn’t been an easy Christmas this year. I don’t say that to hint at family discord, or dealing with the loss of a loved one, or other things people normally mean when they say such things. I think it was hard in a good way because we have removed all of the external Christmas influencers and were left with having to totally figure out how to celebrate the holiday on our own.
What do I mean by Christmas influencers?
We are attending a local Methodist church, and did go to the Christmas Eve service, but this wasn’t the case before arriving here. Not having the church structure of events and messages removed a certain aspect of the season.
I know there are millions of people who have never had a White Christmas but for us Northerners the lack of snow at this time of year makes it really tough to get into the Christmas mood.
This is our second year away from family and while sometimes the party schedule feels like a human pinball game at least the routine and occasion would help us remember the season.
We are an hour from any major retail stores. We haven’t set foot in one in over a week. We’ve mostly been in our trailer, in our little section of Texas hill country where all we see is nature. While we don’t miss the commercialism the lack of it makes the holiday easier to forget.
We don’t watch commercial TV or listen to commercial radio, so are able to decide when and how much Christmas media we partake in.
While last year we continued our family gift-exchange this year was different. We had been on the move for much of the pre-holiday time which makes shopping and preparations tough. Then we parked ourselves on a remote Texas ranch where decent shopping was over an hour away (although we did consider challenging ourselves to find gifts at the local ranch store).
Now - lest you think I’m a Scrooge understand the context. My daughter - who is our resident animal lover and who had wanted to take horse riding lessons - was on a ranch with cats, dogs, and yes, horses. A very generous neighbor has started giving her riding lessons (at no cost to us). Our boy - who has long been voicing the desire to work, learn some skills and make some money was doing just that by working construction with the ranch owner. I also knew we’d be getting a few gifts sent to us from relatives.
So they were doing the very things they had been wanting to do and we were supposed to spend most of a day, drive an hour each way, and kill most of a tank of gas buying unneeded gifts for people who live minimalistically and don’t really need anything?
It felt so forced, selfish and not actually celebrating the birth of Jesus that I just couldn’t do it. We decided that instead of forcing the entire process of buying gifts for each other we would spend some time on Christmas day finding charities to donate that money to instead. We supported our home town Rescue Mission, World Vision, and Compassion International.
Our Christmas still had many traditional elements to to it; a church service with hymn singing and candles, gift-opening, book-reading, movie-watching, and just general down time.
I still feel a bit unsettled about the whole holiday. I think some of it is just feeling like we took the training wheels of Christmas expectations and influencers off, and are still in that wobbly first-ride down the street, figuring it out as we go.
But we’ll get back on and ride again.