Monday, December 07, 2020

Making Christmas - No Place Like Home

 


Late Sunday afternoon Tim and I walked down Oak Bay Avenue, a part of town that has old-world charm and lots of Christmas lights. This is a wordy post, so maybe get a cup of tea and a cookie to nibble on as you read.

As a child, Christmas always involved lots and lots of family - aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins galore. It was merry bedlam. There was a huge dinner, carol singing, presents, and bags of nuts and candies containing a single mandarin orange from Japan handed out by my grandparents (on both sides). 

When I was 13 we moved further away and trips to visit extended family were much fewer and far between. However, one or two of my mother's sisters and their families also lived in the northern interior of BC and we celebrated Christmas with them. After dinner, the adults visited and we cousins played. For a number of years we organized (I was probably very bossy) a little nativity play and performed it for our parents. Christmas was more than a one-day affair. We alternated Christmas Eve at one home and Christmas Day at another. Delicious food, lots of laughter, and a lovely sense of satisfaction to end the day. 

With minor adjustments, these traditions carried on after I married. Tim and I alternated Christmas Day and Christmas Eve with his family and mine. 


In 1981 we moved to a small jungle town in Ecuador. The climate and culture were all very strange to us, and to me particularly. Nothing felt familiar. It was Christmas pared down to bare bones. On Christmas Eve Tim and I sat in front of our ugly little tree and we both cried. We cuddled our 8-week old daughter and wept with loneliness. And I vowed then that the next year would be different. 

I learned that I couldn't rely on the culture around me to evoke the meaning I wanted from Christmas. As a child and young bride, I relied on my parents and extended family to prepare and lead our Christmas celebrations, and they in turn were guided by society and by our faith traditions. 


The next year was different. I took the time to prepare my heart and my home. Our home was the centre of our celebration of Christ's birth. Advent calendars, reading the Christmas story from the Bible or from children's story books, lots of music, baking, and a big dinner to which we always invited lots of people became our family traditions. 

And Christmas was good. It was beautiful and fun. But always, there was, in my heart, a turning towards home, towards my parents and siblings gathered so far away. As I dressed for the day, thoughts of home filled my mind and a few tears fell. I learned to acknowledge the grief even as it eased over the years. And then, hair combed, make-up applied, I tucked away the sadness, and went out to celebrate Christmas with my beautiful children and husband and had a perfectly wonderful day. 


This year is going to be unlike any other Christmas. Our Provincial Health Officer has said that we are restricted to our own households and we are not to gather in an effort to flatten the curve of coronavirus. It is hard to imagine. The news doesn't surprise me, for cases have been much higher recently. Once again, I will acknowledge the sadness and grieve a little over not being able to be with our parents, children and grandchildren. Tim and I are talking about how we will make the day special for just the two of us. It will be a good day. There will likely be gift deliveries and Zoom calls. And through it all, we will remember the reason for our celebration - the birth of the Christ Child. 

We'll be at home a lot. On Saturday we decorated with lots of twinkle lights on the mantels and piano, and around the kitchen windows. The tree lights reflect in the window and across the room onto the glass of a large picture. Home is a good place to be. 

Linking to Sandi's No Place Like Home. 



35 comments:

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Safe and sound at home is definitely a good place to be. If only everyone could just slow down and really take the current situation seriously, perhaps covid wouldn't still be controlling us. Still, it's going to take time until there's any return to a regular routine. When the kids were little, I went all out for the holidays but not so much now. Perhaps we need to consider each month, day as a celebration because Lord knows time and life is very precious. We can create new traditions and celebrate all the little joys and gifts of each and every day rather than waiting for any one particular time or place. I think that's definitely the way forward. Take care.

Coastal Ripples said...

I agree home is central to Christmas. But as you say family is what makes it. We’re still waiting to know who we can have in our homes for Christmas as things are changing daily. At the moment two of our sons are isolating this week as they have been in contact with cases. All very uncertain. Your home does look beautiful and I can only imagine how you felt away from family when you were first married. B x

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

The day can be special when we fluff up our hearts and carry on...in fun ways. Have you considered you and Tim putting on a play, a reading of a story you two write, a virtual scavenger hunt at home or a look back at photos session? The creativity of people during this pandemic has been heart warming.

Rosemary said...

We are also a twosome for Christmas, but I am grateful for what we have especially in comparison with many others - a warm home, food, and each other.
It is an historic day here, today the vaccine is being rolled out right across the country. Let's all hope that a very much improved 2021 is on all of our horizons.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

We have to make the best of what we have and are able to do this year too. It feels strange, especially since this will be the first Christmas in my new home.

Jenn Jilks said...

It's safest at home, this year.
I hear you about lonely Christmases. My first, alone, after our divorce was the worst.
I'm glad we've a bubble and can see the grandies.

Elizabethd said...

Although here we are permitted to mix households at Christmas there are few of us older people who feel that is sensible. We will be just two, and like you I shall try to weave a Christmassy spirit into the day. There will be Carol concerts to watch, time to read and ponder on Christmases past.

Deanna Rabe said...

Oh, I am so sorry. It will be a different Christmas, won't it. I know from the story you've shared that you will have a special day, because you know that you make the day what it is! Fun package deliveries, zoom calls, perhaps a drive or hike.

I love how you shared the focus of the day is STILL the birth of the baby.

Many blessings, Lorrie.

Linda said...

We must make the most of what we have, and thank goodness for social media and connecting that way. We are already planning a Christmas in March (hopefully not later) gathering with the family.

Marie Smith said...

Technology will help us through this. We’re not sure about the family bubbles here. So far, we are still in our daughter’s bubble. That could easily change however. We will be okay however it works out!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

At the moment, we are in a two week lockdown. Christmas may or may not happen with family this year. But I am prepared for that should it happen that way. Of course, if the virus calms down, then we will be given permission to get together with family members. There will be video calls from our other two sons and their families as well. Christmas for us hasn't been the same in years since our boys who live away don't come home for Christmas any longer. Our parents are all gone too so it could very well be just Hubby and me this year. But when one focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, the Christ Child, and why He came, our Christmas will be beautiful. We always begin Christmas Day reading the story from Luke 2 and thanking Him for this incredible Gift He has given us. Then there is the fact that my hubby suffered a stroke a month ago and is well enough to return to work part time tomorrow. We have much to be thankful for. Thank you for sharing your poignant story of Christmases past with us. Hugs...Sandi

Lowcarb team member said...

This is a beautiful post, both your writing and photographs.

Yes, Christmas this year will be so different and we each have to adjust and celebrate as best we can Covid restrictions allowing.

I think the internet / phone lines etc are going to be very well used.

I hope that 2021 will be so much better for us all.

God bless.

All the best Jan

Happy@Home said...

We could have never imagined last Christmas how vastly different the holiday would be this year. Unlike your first Christmas in the jungle, the internet will help to make it a bit less lonely. Hopefully by next Christmas this will all be a distant memory. One can hope.

Ruth Hiebert said...

I think we as Canadians all feel the effect of the restrictions this year. We also are told not to socialize with anyone outside of the household. So that means my son and granddaughter and me to celebrate alone. We will do our best to make it special. your home looks so beautifully decorated .

Granny Marigold said...

We're trying to figure out how Christmas will be for us this year. One thing for certain, it will be different.
Your home is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. I like the pretty ornaments under the cloche.

Margie said...

So you lived in Ecuador during the '80s!

Since we don't have any young kids in the family, our Christmas celebrations have been fairly low-key. Like other families, the hardest part this year, is not seeing loved ones who can't travel home for the holidays.

ellen b. said...

It's interesting how our expectations can rule the day instead of what God allows in our lives. How good to read that you embraced your surroundings and made Christmas come alive again. It was good to read about your Christmas traditions and your time in Ecuador.

kathy b said...

Oh your missing family holidays with a brand new baby that everyone wants to love on, is sad. We have had many holidays as nurse and fireman, where we had to work. Our kids learned it is a Season ,not a day. In some ways we are used to the loneliness of holidays without our grownup kids who often are far away. BUT, we are in contact with them all the time!

we have sent the gifts, which is usually done later. The tree is usually up, but not yet. SO reverse order for this year. I want to have a snowy Christmas and light a fire in our woods fire pit. That would be really fun. A camping Christmas with warmth and comfort a block away!

Cheryl said...

Oh yes, what a different Christmas for you and your family. Your thoughts and feelings are so beautifully expressed! I can feel your longing for the traditions, the family, the gathering, the expected, even while you are accepting the present circumstances and focusing on the beauty that will come during this unique season of celebrating. Indeed, Jesus is the reason for the season.

We are still planning to gather with our children and their families . . . but this very different year has taught us (or is teaching us) to hold our plans loosely, trusting our Father with whatever path He chooses for us.

Gina said...

Dear Lorrie, I love all of your twinkling decorations. Thank you for sharing your most interesting life with us.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's nice to look back and enjoy the memories...good and not as good! I'm thankful every day for a comfortable home since we are here more now too. And I'm glad our weather is good to get outside and walk. That helps tremendously. Enjoy your day sweet friend!

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Dear Lorrie, home certainly is a wonderful place to be at Christmas and especially this Christmas.

I can't imagine living in Ecuador. Although, I do know it must be beautiful. We lived in Virginia Beach for 32 years and it was foreign to us at first. The coast is much different than the mountains, but at least we were in the same country. But I can understand being away from family during the holidays, that is difficult.

Wishing you lovely December days and hopefully very soon you can hold your new baby girl and without a mask.

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

Reading your memories of Christmas time from long ago, was beautiful, Lorrie. I could feel your emotions from when you were away from home. Enjoy your time with Tim in your cozy home, and zooming with your family.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I enjoyed reading this post, and can totally relate in many ways. My husband and I were in the ministry and often were far away from our family home during the holidays. I learned early on that I could either sit at home and mope over being alone on Christmas, or make the most of it one way or the other. We enjoyed making Christmas special for our own nuclear family, and then we started always inviting others to share Christmas dinners with us...there were many others who were lonely too... and it became a tradition to invite someone "new" to Christmas each year. Not sure what will happen this year...still thinking about that. It's a very different time for all of us, for certain. I enjoyed your post very much. Visiting from Sandi's No Place Like Home tour.

Linda Stoll said...

Lorrie, good morning! There's a light and a soothing warmth here. I'm so grateful to have bumped into you in recent days.

Blessings ...

Kit said...

I loved your story. Yes, this year will be different. So we'll all have to make it special in it's own way. I am happy to stay home and nest. When I was first married we moved away from family and we had to create our own new traditions. So it is good to be flexible. Take care. Kit 🌲

Angie said...

Lorrie - a poignant post, and a helpful reminder to all of us that we can make it through difficult periods in our lives. We are in control of our attitudes. Like you, I am grateful for my faith, which gives me hope even in the dark times. Here's praying that NEXT Christmas will be different!

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

I enjoyed your Christmas story Lorrie. Christmas has always been about extended family gatherings in my own family as well. Thankfully we've always been able to have some family around at Christmas, and plan to gather this year as well, but my heart goes out to you as you face a Christmas without your family around. I love how you made it a special experience when you were away from home in Ecuador. I pray that the Lord blesses your holiday in a special way this year and that we can all gather again safely soon. Many blessings to you!

Sara - Villa Emilia said...

What an interesting post, Lorrie, with really magical images.
I hope you can celebrate Christmas safely and happily.
This year will be different in many ways.
In our family, there will also be a surgical operation of one member on Monday 14th.
Take care! 💟☕🎄🤗

Haddock said...

Love those balls in the bell jar.

Marilyn Miller said...

Lots of twinkle lights are particularly necessary this year.
Thanks for sharing your memories. Family is so important with the holidays and will be so sad this year. My daughter and grandson will come just for a short visit to open presents, but no sharing of food and masks will be on while they are here. Looking forward to a new and better year in 2021.

ann said...

We have never traveled or moved far away from our family. We've always been here. The holidays have always been the same, but now things are a little different, in part because the grandchildren are growing up. For 15 years Santa came to the house and we invited other children to join the fun. Santa won't be coming this year. So far the kids haven't said much, but I feel a little pang. I knew that eventually the Santa party would end, but I didn't figure that it would end because of a pandemic. I've decorated some; not like I have in the past, though we put more lights outside. I wanted to make the neighbors smile. The neighbors' light displays make me smile. Our state governor hasn't yet declared a Stay at Home holiday. We stay home anyway. The kids go their in-laws for Christmas dinner. Enjoy the season. Your home looks warm and lovely.

handmade by amalia said...

Such a beautiful post. It really resonated with me. We've celebrated all our major holidays this year under lockdown, I'll never take our family gatherings for granted again. I hope you find joy in yours.
Amalia
xo

Nancy Turner said...

I love your posts, Lorrie, and I always find particular comfort and peace of mind when you reveal your beautiful spiritual side. I feel my own heart stilling along with yours when you speak about Advent and waiting for the Christ Child. Thank you for these very lovely moments. -Nancy

Mary said...

Loved this post about your family history - I enjoyed not one but two cups of tea and more cookies than I dare tell!!!!

Different for us all, but the same reason to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Having it be more simple, quiet, and maybe even lonely, it still is the most wonderful time of the year, and always will be for so many of us around the world.

I'm enjoying listening/watching videos from King's College Cambridge, the most awesome choir recorded over dozens of years - some videos show very interesting background stories of the boys preparing for the magnificent annual BBC carol service on Christmas Eve. Somehow choral music is all I want to hear this year. It's one tradition they can't ban us from and we can listen right here at home!

Mary XX

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