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> The Christmas Holidays!, with friends and family.
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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 14-Nov-2008, 01:01 PM
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As you all know the Holidays are upon us once again.

And I thought, that it could be a refreshing change instead of politics and all the bad news that goes around the world, why not discuss the Holidays and how you celebrate this time of sharing.

Because after all,the Holidays especially on Christmas, is a time for sharing and the New Year to celebrate. For some the Holiday Season is not something to either share nor celebrate because for a lot of people this time of the year is a difficult one. For one thing, the financial means which for a lot of people is a problem and loneliness. I think of single parents, senior citizens, and most of all the homeless.

This year, like every year along with my sisters and brothers, we will all gather for the Christmas dinner but this year it'll be a little bit different. Usually, we would all take turns each year for the gathering...for one thing, so that it would not always be the same one who ends up having everybody in the house each year and second to spare my mom the trouble.Our family all gathered together is a small crowd of 22. So, for my mom it's quite the job. But for this year since my dad is frail and still in a wheelchair most of the time, we will go at our parents house.
And like always we all pitch in for the food preparations and all.

I'm glad for one thing and it is the fact that for the first time as far as I recall, my dad is looking forward to the Christmas gathering...amazing! We are all aware that it could be his last with us for he is still weak...that is the main reason for us to gather at home so that he won't have to go out.

And as I reflect on it ,the Holiday Season was always a hard time for me as well. Because of family background I guess ,where Christmas was simply not celebrated and a time of hardship for my dad was always without work during winter time.So, for him as the head of his family he saw it as a weakness and was drunk every year, there was no Christmas tree in the house and less gifts for us. Harder for him to see that the community voluntary work society would bring baskets of food. I still remember quite vividly his face everytime they would bring the basket. It was not easy for his pride and humility. And it certainly wasn't for me and my older brother for the others were too small to understand and grasped the situation.

I did not grow up with the joy of Christmas.But today its different, I did overcome this bitterness and sorrowful feeling because of what I learned from others and for my husband who had to witness my unhappiness.
What I mean by others, are the homeless. Homeless people are the same as you and I. The only difference is that for some they have known really bad hardship and for some it could be all kinds of reason of why they've ended up as homeless. But still they are as human as we are. Every year for at least 9 years I would go downtown on Christmas and partake with the homeless on a Christmas luncheon and music. From them and what they told as stories I understood that even though my Christmas as a young girl were sad, they were not so bad after all. Some had it harder then I did. Much harder.

So today for my family (husband and I) I create an atmosphere of serenity and peace in my house with simple decorations. This is my way to appreciate the meaning of Christmas and what it's all about. For a Christmas without any decorations or a small christmas tree is like emptiness.And I enjoy very much preparing a good feast for the both of us.

Maybe for some it's just another day of the year and don't see the meaning and that's fine too. All are allowed to celebrate in their own way.

For those interested in sharing your Holidays experience I welcome you to share it here in this thread.It be a joyfull or a sorrowfull one, it doesn't matter, if you feel the need to write it in your own way, do so. Sometimes just by writing it feels better.


LOA


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jayhenson 
Posted: 14-Nov-2008, 04:24 PM
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Thank you LOA for your story.

I notice several people have stopped by but none have shared. I spent 2 decades in the Navy but would almost always make it home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, almost. But of all those years, one sticks out as special. I had left for boot camp in late August and afterward went for follow-on training in Groton Ct. (I was from Dallas, Texas). My mom was still suffering from separation anxiety (so to speak) as I was the first child to leave the nest and she was very very sad at the prospect of not having me home for the "family" holidays. My dad and I hatched a plan......


My training was on holiday hold so that most could go home on leave and I took a weeks leave and flew home a few days before thanksgiving, unbeknown to my mom. My dad made some excuse to go out and my mom was actually sick at the time. He came and picked me up at the airport and I was in uniform (he got abit teary-eyed when he saw me too) and we snuck home. At this point the rest of my family knew (brother and sister) and were keeping hush hush about it. My mom was back in her bedroom and was having a hard time getting around so she grumbled abit when dad asked her to come look at something. (getting teary-eyed just telling you about it). She came around the corner and I said "Hi Mom" (it was all I could get out before my throat closed) and she looked like she just saw a ghost...I mean the funniest look on her face (could have won $10,000 on AFV) and we both started hugging and crying.

Every holiday I spend with my family is special but that one really sticks out.

Deep Peace of the Holiday cheer to you...


Jay
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Harlot 
Posted: 14-Nov-2008, 05:24 PM
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I remember one Christmas that was a little sad but turned out the best one.In 1986 I was laid-off just before Christmas and being a single mother of 2 and only one paycheck in my household things were very hard. I had no money for presents for my kids and felt very bad about that ,my mother told me not to worry that everything would work out. Both sets of grandparents brought the kids things and signed my name to some of them but it still wasn't the same and I still felt very bad. Now comes the best part.

When it came time to get my IRS check in June I went Christmas shopping,took the kids and let them pick out what things they wanted and I got some things they didn't know about. We then put the tree up lights and all and they went to bed,I set to wrapping all of the presents. My 2 kids got up early just like if it was Christmas ,came an got me and the unwrapping started. Still today we talk about that Christmas and how that was the best one ever,so my mother was right it all did work out in the end.

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Patch 
Posted: 14-Nov-2008, 06:00 PM
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I have only a few memories of gifts, though we got gifts. My "electric train stands out but the two most memorable was a Marionette made jointly by my mother and grandfather (a master carver among other things), and a wooden rifle (also made by my grandfather) with a working bolt and trigger and a mechanism inside that made a very loud pop when the trigger was pulled. As with all of our toys, when we grew out of them they went to the younger siblings and the toys are gone now. Mostly the memories are of family gatherings, food and conversation at the holidays. A tradition with my fathers side of the family was rabbit hunting after the Thanksgiving meal. My grand sons would like that and I may suggest it this year. As I am now the family patriarch, our "sibling" gatherings are usually at or around Thanksgiving. I am the official "keeper of the humor" and we reminisce a great deal.

I do Christmas with the children and grand children. It was just before Christmas that my children (ages 6 and 7) came to rely on me as their sole care giver and provider and their lives were forever changed. I guess for that reason I really went over board at Christmas, though my heart was not in it. To this day, my children do the same for their own children so I guess a good family tradition was born.

My feelings have mellowed with time though I still do not decorate, and too much Christmas music can evoke bad memories. I really enjoy watching the grandkids open their gifts now, especially the younger ones.

My wish for all is to continue building good memories at the holidays and throughout the year!

Slàinte,    

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InRi 
Posted: 15-Nov-2008, 09:30 AM
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I remember as I was a little child, Christmas was somehow a peaceful time. All people around me tried to be a littlebit kindlier together - especially my parents... All the year they had a lot of differences, but during the Christmas time the situation "relaxes".
As I was older I understood that these "relaxation" was a face only. Consistently my parents breaked up when I was 12 years old.
The following years was very hard for my mother, a single mother with three sons and one of these (myself) began to hit the puberty... I liked to be a "rebel", which didn't make the life in this family easier.
When I was 18 years old I went out of the family, and tried to realize my own imaginations of life and Christmas hasn't any much space in this concept. I tried to escape from the especially mood during the Christmas time - but (today I know that) deep inside was the yearning for a real peaceful (not only) Christmas time in a well family with all things I missed since I was a little child.
I am head of a family already for 20 years and after the birth of my children came back the good feelings (not only) during the Christmas time. The principal thing for me is one: The peaceful mood during Christmas isn't a face only but it comes from deep inside. Money is in these case irrelevant for me (I never had a lot of this), the bigness of gifts isn't the measure of good relationships in a family - quite the contrary, how often someone try to buy one's way out of something with big gifts...
Christmas can be all the year (if you want this) - Harlot, thank you very much for your story, that affects me very much.

Best regards

Ingo






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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 16-Nov-2008, 02:28 PM
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Yes you are absolutly right InRi and by the way you're name is the inscription that Pontius Pilate wrote over the head of Jesus on the Holy Cross...

The Holidays have nothing to do with money or anything to with gifts for that matter.On the contrary the Holidays are a time of reflection and a time for sharing in family...it doesn't have to be a reunion "loaded" with gifts that most of the time people simply don't need.

Jay, what a wonserful happy family reunion and a joyful surprise it must have been for you mom...that's the spirit.

And Harlot, like I told you, your story is one of love and deep family bonds and values.

Thank you for sharing,

LOA
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Camac
Posted: 16-Nov-2008, 02:58 PM
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I hope no one thinks I am putting a damper on the holidays but to me they are just another day. I will spend Xmas eve having dinner with my Daughters and exchanging small gifts but that is the extent to my holiday celebrations. It was different when the girls were small and we were a family but that was 25 years ago
and time and circumstances change.

Camac.
PS: INRI stands for IESVS NAZARENVS REX IUDAEORVM , Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. It was meant as an insult to the Jews.
               
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InRi 
Posted: 16-Nov-2008, 04:09 PM
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QUOTE (Lady-of-Avalon @ 16-Nov-2008, 08:28 PM)
...and by the way you're name is the inscription that Pontius Pilate wrote over the head of  Jesus on the Holy Cross...

QUOTE (Camac @ 16-Nov-2008, 08:58 PM)
...PS: INRI stands for IESVS NAZARENVS REX IUDAEORVM , Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. It was meant as an insult to the Jews.

LOA and Camac, I know that, although I'm not a Christian... In my case those are actually the initials of my forename (INGO) and surname (RILKE). I've been using those for nearly all my life (that is as I'm able to write...) wink.gif

I agree with you, LOA, that holidays are a time of reflection and for sharing in family but I think also with good friends too, because I have the same "problem" like Camac - my children are no longer very small too (19 and 17 years) and they want to spend a part of holidays with their friends.

This doesn't change my good feelings because I know that I gave my children a good time in our family (and this not only in Christmas). In German they say: "Aus Kindern werden Leute" (literal translated: "children become people" and that means, sometime the children adult and have have a mind of one's own.

My daughter e.g. will go in 26-Dec for one week to Germany for visit her friends there and my son want to meet in this time some of his friends here nearby. Why not, because a part of holidays they will spend in family too.

Best regards

Ingo
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gaberlunzie 
Posted: 23-Nov-2008, 04:12 PM
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I don't have many enjoyable memories of holidays spent in my childhood and youth. Growing up with a stepfather who used to be a tyrant and even worse it was ridiculous that especially on Xmas the "big show" took place... peace on earth; oh well! If you don't have peace within your own family or within yourself this was going to be a mission impossible. But of course we had to be "presentable" for all outside of the family. I hated it.

When I was married and the kids were still young it got better - until my relationship to my husband started to break apart.

Since I live single with down to one son still at home the holidays became a peaceful family time. We always meet on Xmas Eve for dinner; one year at my home, the following one at my elder son's and his lady friend's - and we enjoy the time we spend together. Over here we have Xmas Eve, Xmas day and the following day still is a holiday. So we also use to meet on one of the Xmas Days for a HUGE BIG family dinner; like yours on Thanksgiving. This is my turn to cook the big turkey dinner. We eat and drink and share love, fun and laughters.

We don't spend much money on gifts; more we revel in the feeling of being a family where each one of us could rely on the other. This is what we became by the years and this is something we don't only have and celebrate once a year but have during the whole year.


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Leelee 
Posted: 23-Nov-2008, 06:22 PM
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I prefer to remember some of the more joyful times of my youth during Christmas. We were not a rich family, only in the sense of a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and simple foods (cooked cabbage, potatoes, bread, very little meats) that Mom knew how to make flavourful. Dad had two jobs and Mom tried to keep the peace raising four teens and a toddler (that would be me).

Christmas was the one of the seasons we were lavished (other than Easter). Mom sold her crocheted masterpieces & saved her money for these two occassions. I recall going to Church Christmas Eve (every Sunday too) and listen to the glorious voices of the choir (like angels singing) and the story of the Birth of Christ, the scent of the fresh pine boughs that decorated our church and the flickering candlelight during Service. After the Service, Mom and I would walk home in the chill of the night (5-blocks) and I would be searching the Heavens for the Star of Bethlehem. We would then be allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve (of Mom's choice).

The next day was Christmas Day Service and coming home to the wonderful scents of home cooking (the bird in the oven); and the front door constantly opening to friends and extended family; adults - Uncles, Aunts, Cousins - these were Mom and Dad's friends. We were brought up to address them as Aunts and Uncles out of respect. The Cousins were Dad's Cousins, Mom and Dad had no other members of their families in Canada. They contributed to the feast & gifts. Everyone who walked through the door would have armfuls of goods. They would then play music, dance, drink, open gifts and then we would sit down and eat, play more music, sing and dance some more to the wee hours of the morning.

As the years rolled along my siblings moved, as did the Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Dad passed away, my Sister too and a brother that well....went his own way. So now there are fewer in our family now. My SO and I make it a ritual to meet at my only other Brother's place and celebrate with his family, since we only see him, maybe twice a year (works overseas). Mom takes turns every Christmas to spend one Christmas at my Brother's and another year at my Sister's. The two siblings do not get along.

I do miss going the Christmas Eve Service. Most of the time the weather is treacherous and it is a ways out to my Brother's, so we leave early to get there before dark. We do have a wonderful time at my Brother's, but it doesn't top the younger years when all of us would gather as a family. We still enjoy the togetherness.

That is what really counts, not the gifts. It is the gift of Love for one another and time spent together. Christmas should be everyday.

Merry Christmas to all of you. May God Bless you and keep you and grant you Peace.


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oldraven 
Posted: 24-Nov-2008, 08:01 AM
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Great topic!

I got some of my outdoor lights up yesterday, and hung the wreath. Ange thinks I'm crazy, but every year it seems like we wait too long, and I'm holding on long after New Years before I stop using the lights. Besides, I wanted to get them on the roof this year, and I don't want to be doing that when the roof is a glare of ice. After two small snows this weekend, it's definitely time. Now, if only I can hold off one more week, so I'm not using them before December. wink.gif

Before Christmas, we have the community Christmas Dinner here in Goshen at the Hall, where we get to talk to the locals and get ourselves a little more rooted in the community. A few days before we'll get the kids dressed up and take them to the Christmas Dinner and Candlelight Service at the church in Lochaber. Last year I think I only had to hold Seamus for five minutes. The ladies just keep on passing them around, since children are getting to be a rare sight in the church. Even though Ange doesn't share the faith, she still enjoys the fellowship.

When we were out West, we took turns having Christmas at our house and at my brother's house, though we have Christmas morning at home. Now that we're home, we have Christmas morning at our house, in Goshen, just the same, then head off to my parent's house, in New Town, for Dinner. After we eat we'll open gifts and whilst the kids play with their new toys the rest of us will probably break out the guitars for a bit. After a jam, Ange and I pack up the kids and head for Dunmore. We'll spend the rest of the afternoon and evening at Angela's parent's place, and have Supper there.

I'm getting really excited this year, because this is the first time we've all been home for Christmas (my brothers, sister, and I) in over a dozen years. Mum will probably turn into a pie, she'll spend so much time in the kitchen. I like the idea of moving around and having Dinner at a different house every year, though. It's a nice tradition, and now that we've got four houses in stead of two (in Edmonton) it would be a good rotation. Three years of rest before making the big Christmas meal again. wink.gif

Without a doubt, my favourite time of year.


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We need more Stan Rogers.

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LadyOfAvalon 
Posted: 22-Dec-2008, 03:41 PM
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We are just a few days away from Christmas and I'd like to thank all of you that have shared their Christmas stories and what it represent to you...

Even though Christmas time is for sharing and enjoying the people that are dear to us let's not forget the ones in need all year round...and as I mentioned to another member in another thread the true Christmas spirit is to give with our hearts without expecting anything in return.

All the best to all of you...I wish you a Merry Christmas and peace be with you.

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morgana_l_f 
Posted: 23-Dec-2008, 11:54 AM
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I am lucky enough to live near both my mom's and dad's family so Christmases were always spent with both sides. They were two very different celebrations. We would visit my dad's parents on the 25th, and later, when families were growing up the 23rd. It would be just my grandparents and my immediate family. We didn't often dress up more than going to church clothes. After dinner we opened gifts, which was usually punctuated with "Hurry up." "Don't save the paper." but not in an excited manner.
Christmases with my mom's side are much different. Christmas Eve services are held at 1pm in our church so we would dress up, drive to church, come home and pack up gifts and our part of dinner, and drive to my mom's parents' where most of her siblings would gather. We started the meal with the Danish equivalent of "Come Lord Jesus"- Most of the younger generation having to use cheat sheets:). Then we would start the trading of our rice puddings. My grandmother would make the rice pudding and put a nut in it. Then her daughters would serve it in bowls and if there was a grandkid around, they would put the dishes on the table. Whoever found the nut would win a box of chocolates. Of course no one would admit to winning last year and we would trade our puddings around until we got hungry. We often had rulepose- a Danish rolled meat with herbs inside, and always red cabbage shutup.gif and for dessert, abelkage, applesauce layered with toasted and buttered bread crumbs. After the dishes were done, we would pull out the tree and dance around it as we sang carols. Around the tree were ornaments that had my mom and her siblings' pictures and wooden ornaments with the grandkids' names. It is always fun to find "your" ornament as you dance. Afterwards was gifts and then we went home. After a few years we started going back on Christmas Day just to have leftovers, play games, and visit.
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RedPop4 
Posted: 29-Jan-2009, 02:49 PM
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I was an only child, my father had a stroke when I was 3, and couldn't work. My parents always seemed to be able to provide gifts for me. As a child, we'd gather with my mother's brother and his family. As we've gotten older, my aunt is simply no fun to be around. We're "Roman" and my aunt is always trying to top us with her hospitality, her religiosity, etc. It's not fun to be around.

Now, I'm married with two children, my mother-in-law has a huge home, so we usually have a late dinner on Christmas day to accommodate my brother-in-law and his in-laws. We have a nice meal with our extended family.

Thanks for the opportunity.


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