This Christmas… was a lot of things.
First of all, it was quiet. Since Matt and I have been in Pittsburgh, we have always traveled home and spent the holiday with Matt’s family. But this year, we decided to stay in Pittsburgh. We spent 10 days at home over Thanksgiving. Which was great, but pretty exhausting with an 11 month old. Traveling again for Christmas just felt like too much travel too soon after a lot of travel. More than that, though, I really wanted to start some holiday traditions with our family. Growing up, my family didn’t really have anything like that, so it’s become important to me. It’s part of giving Eddie the stability of a happy home that I never had. If that makes sense. I want us all to be together and at home for the holiday.
Also, it was Eddie’s first Christmas… well not really. He was born 3 days before Christmas, so he was here last Christmas, but he was still pretty fetus-like. I don’t think he opened his eyes once. And I was recovering from major abdominal surgery. I consider this his first Christmas.
And on that note, it was also Eddie’s first birthday. Which, to me, was another reason to not travel.
My sisters and their families stopped in a few days before Christmas, and it was wonderful to spend the time with them. In the future, I hope more family will come to us for the holiday, but I would understand if they couldn’t.
Yeah, it was quiet. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I want the holiday to mean to us. We’re not religious. So it doesn’t mean what it means to a lot of people. I realized, I have a big problem with how commercial Christmas is. I mean, that’s so cliche and over-discussed, I know I didn’t make an amazing discovery or anything. It’s like the theme of every holiday movie. But for reals. I over-heard other moms lamenting that they can’t find the one gift that their kid told Santa they wanted, and about how they’ll have some big explaining to do if they don’t find it, it’s sold out everywhere!… and I just can’t help thinking how I really don’t want to spend my holiday stressing out about one particular piece of plastic so my kid continues to believe the weird lie that I told him about Christmas gifts. I don’t want to get my kid a lot of things for Christmas. It would be cool to do “experience” type gifts. Like a membership to the zoo, or swimming lessons, or whatever he is into. I don’t think I want to do the Santa thing. I don’t even want to go down that road. I mentioned how I felt about it to some people. Slipped it into conversations about the holidays. Some people got upset. Or indignant. A few people told me my kid was going to ruin Christmas for other kids. Like, they didn’t say these things to me in a mean way. But they said them. I think that if Christmas is about a stranger who gives you stuff, then Christmas is already ruined.
I just want it to be happy, and warm, and safe and fun. For the most part, I have put most of the parts of my childhood that I am unhappy about behind me. I don’t think about it too much anymore. Christmastime, for some reason, is one of those times when the difference between other people and myself seems bigger. I know it’s not really this way. I know I am not the only person without a big happy tight-knit extended family that laughs together. I don’t know why, but something about hearing other people talk about their holiday traditions makes me feel… less. It’s dumb. I know.
But whenever I feel “less,” I just try to make my life “more.”
So it was quiet. Just the three of us. And I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was nice. I got to spend a lot of time with Matt and with Eddie. But it kind of didn’t feel like Christmas. Maybe because we don’t have any holiday traditions? I think, next year, I need to make it feel more like Christmas. And I guess that is how you start traditions, isn’t it? New family in a new-ish city. Let’s do this, Koneks!
So here are some holiday-ish things I was thinking we could do next year (instead of the santa thing). Not all of them. I’m not, like, crazy. Just some ideas. Big ones, small ones.
Phipps Winter Garden. We went to Phipps, but it was during the day. Next year, let’s go at night and see the Christmas lights. My friend did it and said it made her feel super Christmassy.
Burn this candle. (I already do this, and I actually burn it all year because I love it) It was my grandmother’s favorite holiday candle. Her home always made me feel safe and warm. The smell of it still makes me feel that way.
Bake some Christmas cookies! We did some of this (see below; Eddie helped) but next year, I’d like to do those cut out sugar cookies. How fun and messy are those? And maybe make them more in advance, so we can share them with people.
Check out the ice skating and giant Christmas tree at PPG Place. We did do this while my sisters were in town, but I was super sick. (doh!) so it wasn’t particularly enjoyable to me. I can’t ice skate or anything. Don’t get the wrong idea. I just love seeing it.
The Nationality Rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. They decorate them for Christmas and give tours. It’s supposed to be awesome.
I was at Target, and I let Eddie “pick out” an ornament. Well, he really liked two. I think that could be a fun thing to do every year. These are the two he picked out this year:
We made lasagna for dinner on Christmas day. I think if it’s just the three of us, we’ll continue to do that. It was nice. And Ina Garten showed me how you can just soak the noodles in hot water instead of boiling them. Win. (Ours was vegetarian)
I think it would be really cool to host a big dinner with our friends who are also staying in town for the holiday. Maybe keep low-key lasagna for Christmas day and have a big dinner party a few days later.
Presents for Patients. Someone told me about this charity. I’d love to start a tradition that involved giving instead of receiving.
Oglebay in Wheeling. This is a bit of a drive, but could be cool. Maybe not. We’ll see.
Overly’s Country Christmas. I think this looks like a lot of fun with kid(s).
Decorate the house. I could probably up my game in this area. Other than a tree that we barely put up in time and a few nicknacks scattered about, I don’t do a whole lot. I remember having a blast decorating my dad’s entire house with the brightest, craziest, and in retrospect ugliest lights and tinsel.
Snowtubing. Oh man. I love to do this. I can’t wait until Eddie is old enough. I think it would be an awesome winter tradition. We could save this until after Christmas though, when January and February are getting to us. Who knows.
What do you think? Did I miss anything? Any winter holiday traditions that you love?