Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

View Outside My Window - December


This is the view outside the bay window in my living room. . . .

The creche is in our woods.  We will gather as a family around the creche Christmas night to sing Away in the Manger and Joy to the World before everyone leaves for their own homes.  Today our youngest son came home to help us cut down our tree and decorate it.  We've cut our own tree every year since our first Christmas together in 1969.  We have other traditions we've continued through the years.  I got the idea of the creche in the woods from reading about Tasha Tudor's traditions.  I wrote about her Christmas traditions HERE.  

Traditions help us keep a tie to the past, but they should not keep us tied to our past.  The tradition I continued from my childhood with my own children was to open our gifts on Christmas Eve and have Santa's presents waiting for them when they got up Christmas morning.  When my children were older we started the tradition of having fondue Christmas Eve.  Now that they're grown we still have fondue for whoever can join us but we open gifts whenever we can work it out with everyone's schedule since two of our three sons have in-laws now vying for their time.

So I've been thinking about what I'd like to change about the way we celebrate Christmas now that we are empty nesters.  Next Christmas we'll have three grandchildren in our family.  I'm sure there will come a time when our sons will want to stay in their own homes to celebrate with their children as they get older.  I'm wondering what our Christmas will look like then.  I'd like to start a new tradition for our grandchildren that involves them coming here to make cookies.  I think today, St. Nicolas Day, would be a great day to do it.

What about you?  Do you have traditions you have carried on from your childhood?  If you have children who have flown the coop, what traditions have you been able to continue?  Have you started new traditions for grandchildren or just for yourself and your spouse?   I'd love to hear your ideas.

This is the view inside my living room tonight. . . .


Update:

Chris W. from Texas has just shared a photo, at my request, of the Christmas Village her parents made years ago.  It has been in storage for 15 years, Chris said, but she and her 92-year-old helped set it up this year at Chris's son's house for the grandkids. . . .
(click on photo to enlarge)

If anyone else has a photo to share of some tradition they've maintained or revived from the past, please send it to me and I'll add it to this post.

.•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•
Take Joy!


26 comments:

  1. We are a little like you empty nesters but this is the first year that we don't have them all home on Christmas Day, one family is coming for new year the other two families are coming in between Christmas and new year. We are developing a tradition of spending a Advent Sunday together and having afternoon tea together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the idea of an Advent Tea. If the family can't all get together on Christmas that would be a great time to exchange gifts.

      Delete
  2. Your tree looks beautiful. As nesters, we celebrate Christmas with Grandchildren & their parents on Christmas Eve. We start with a festive buffet that my hubby & I put together. Then we do our gift exchanges. By doing it the night before Christmas, it allows them to make their own traditions by staying at home & seeing what Santa brought them. It works out really well. Love to you Sis & the family. Merry Christmas! Love, Sandy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love and Merry Christmas to you, too, Sandy. I suspect this is what will eventually happen here, too. We won't be able to do fondue with the little ones so may have to go to buffet as well. This is why I want to establish some new traditions that everyone will love enough to want to be a part of. Growing families can be short on time. I'll have a lot with which to compete! ☺︎

      Delete
  3. Cathy, I guess you can say a new tradition has begun at my son's! The Grandkids are 7 and 4 and I am sure it must be magic to them. It was 3 solid days putting it up, many trips to the store to repair lights and wiring. But last night my mom, son and DIL and I sat in the living room until after 11:00 just watching the train go around!!
    My mission is complete! :)
    Chris W

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It turned out wonderful, Chris. When did your folks make it and how many years did they have it up before it was retired, temporarily? I've done something on a smaller scale but I've added so much furniture to my house over the years I no longer have room for it.

      Delete
  4. We talked about it and we think they started the village in the mid 80's and Dad added to it as the years went on. Only about half of the houses are store bought. The others are all painted by my mom and dad. You used to be able to buy unfinished houses at the craft stores! Dad passed away in 1998 and the village went into storage in 2000. Then it took 3 trips from Texas to Ohio to get it all up there. Finally we think the kids are old enough! The train engine didn't want to work, so we bought a new train!! It was a full 3 days!
    Chris W

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This will be a treasured family tradition for years to come!

      Delete
  5. Hi Cathy it was so nice to hear about your traditions. We've always hosted Christmas at our home these past forty years. We're still hosting since we are empty nesters too with a small family. Our celebration begins on Christmas eve with church services followed by dinner and opening gifts. The kids and grandchildren spend the night and on Christmas morning we have breakfast, open the stockings followed by Christmas dinner in the afternoon and then a game of monopoly. The house is full and humming for those two days and it's a wonderful time. I hope you and your dear family have a blessed Christmas holiday. Hugs to you, Pat

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat, this sounds wonderful--to have the grandchildren spend the night and find their stockings waiting for them. Because we had Santa's presents waiting in the morning our kids were always up very early. It's a special time of day anyway, so I have fond memories of excited children (and too many photos of me in my robe, my hair in disarray!)

      Delete
  6. Cathy what a lovely idea to recreate a creche in your woods. We still have the children at home or coming home each Christmas. It will be strange if we didn't see them on Christmas Day! Sarah x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, it wouldn't be Christmas unless our children (even grown) are a part of it!

      Delete
  7. Things changed even more for us empty nesters when my mother died. We always kept things going here even if the kids weren't here but she was. Less extended family come now that she is gone and we miss having a house full. But we roll with the changes. Our big Christmas Eve after the Service buffet has now moved to our son's house and his wife's family joins us and that is a nice time. Last year our kids decided they wanted Christmas morning at home and I don't blame them. So we open presents with them at our house before Christmas Eve service. Christmas day is usually on our own now and quiet and it's ok. I like what you said about traditions tie us to the past but shouldn't keep us tied to the past. Flexibility is so important in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After my father died my mother came up from Florida her last 15 Christmases to be with us. Changes are constant, so having some little tradition to carry forward to connect the generations is special. We had an Angel Chiming candle carousel when I was a child so I got one when I left home. Somehow it disappeared so I had to buy a new one, but the new ones are made so cheaply the main stem won't stand up properly. I'd dearly love to find an original one,

      Delete
  8. Our own traditions have evolved somewhat too. When I was little, Christmas was at our house - and we kids never saw the tree until Christmas morning. Mom & Dad did everything on Christmas Eve - God knows how - and on Christmas morning, we had our "Santa" presents and a big breakfast, followed by a visit from my paternal grandparents, more presents and lunch. Then when I got into high school, my Dad started making some changes. We started putting up the tree a few days before Christmas, and began having a little Christmas Eve buffet of treats. By the time I graduated college, these little noshes became a sumptuous feast including shrimp, cocktail sauce, pate [chopped liver really], cheese and crackers, cocktail franks, spinach dip, spanakopita, baked chicken wings, tiny hot baby potatoes with toppings, crescent roll-ups, antipasto, crudites, MANY other kinds of treats and of course, all manner of cookies, baby cheesecakes etc. This is when Dad started Irish coffee time too. All year long the girls in the family would look for the perfect new recipe to bring for Christmas Eve, and some eventually became mandatory. My grandparents still came for the morning and lunch until Grandpa died. That's when things changed quite a lot, because my grandmother didn't drive, so she began spending all day Christmas with her youngest daughter, and both my Dad and my uncle continued doing what they had been all those years with their own families. Grandma decided she'd entertain both her boys' families with a big holiday meal, which was usually scheduled for the day after Christmas, or for New Year's Day. When my parents became grandparents, we had little kids on Christmas Eve again and that was really great. My niece Julia, who is 23 now, once told me - I think she was about 16 at the time - how much she loved being out in the dark Christmas Eve night, on her way to and from Grandpa & Grandma's house. She felt that "there really was magic in the world that night..." Her words. She'd study the sky intently in the car, looking for any sign of Santa's sleigh, especially on starry Christmas Eves, which we don't often see in Rochester. We still do Christmas Eve together, all my sibs and their spouses and kids - and we still do our great hulking great buffet. A real treat. Take care and talk to you soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, your family's Christmas celebration sounds like a made-for-TV movie! I love watching Christmas movies in December because Christmas always ends up with people enjoying each other and all the trappings of the season. Do you remember whether you liked not seeing the tree until Christmas morning? Or did you prefer it when they started setting it up a few days in advance? One Christmas we didn't get our tree until Christmas Eve because our living room floor was delayed in being put down (my husband got sick). The boys and I ended up laying the interlocking floor. We didn't finish until Christmas Eve morning, then went for the tree in the afternoon. My second son was really disappointed that we didn't get the tree sooner. And he was 17!

      Delete
    2. I really can't say if I minded NOT seeing the tree until Christmas morning. I guess I couldn't miss what I never had - and we thought everyone's families did it this way too, I think. I don't remember seeing decorated trees at my friends' home then. I think most families at that time - at least in this area - waited until Christmas Eve. I do know it was so special to come downstairs on Christmas morning, seeing the lit tree in all its glory and with presents everywhere underneath it. My parents had their kids so close together you know - 6 kids in 7 years - so for about 10 years there were toddler rugrats of various ages about, who no doubt would have made a royal mess of the tree, had it been there. Dad brought it home a few days before Christmas Eve and parked it on our enclosed but unheated porch - we had a wrap-around porch on 3 sides of our house. I can still remember the heavenly scent of the tree when I was going in or out of the house, or the door was open and a whiff of the balsam would waft in. That scent is indelibly Christmas to me now. I even have balsam essential oil at home now that I simmer in a saucepan sometimes during the holidays. Yum. I do remember. Mom & Dad did a table tree when we were small too - up on our card table - I'm sure to prevent sticky little hands from smooshing ornaments etc. LOL.

      Delete
    3. Janet, I wonder if it was a Northeast region tradition. Tasha Tudor's family did not put up the tree until Christmas Eve. Probably part of the reason might have been because they lit candles on the tree, and you only want a VERY fresh tree for that! She wrote that she loved the fragrance of the tree as it stood in the kitchen corner until Christmas Eve when it was brought into the living room to be decorated. I can see where your parents wouldn't want it up too soon with so many toddlers. We were at Olivia's yesterday and her parents told us she almost pulled down the tree already trying to reach one of the shiny balls!

      Delete
  9. Oh dear. Glad Olivia was NOT successful in this effort of hers - !!! But she certainly is at the perfect age for hauling down a tree. She's walking steadily and like all toddlers, is faster than the grownups think possible. LOL!!! You probably are right about the regional thing, Cathy. Or maybe it was just the time. Christmas was big of course, but not like it is now. "Follow the Money..." The culture then wasn't saturated in Christmas back then. You didn't see Christmas displays in stores until Thanksgiving week, Santa wasn't "seeing" children until AFTER Thanksgiving etc. We definitely knew Christmas was coming in December, but the anticipation was the most fun thing about it. By the time I started my bridal registry job in the department store, in my mid 20s, we started decorating our areas for Christmas in September. The Trim-a-Tree shop was right next to my bridal area and I watched things being unpacked and arranged for WEEKS. My brother & SIL have put up their tree the day after Thanksgiving every year, so my niece and nephew have never experienced the fun of anticipation, and the thrill of seeing it all lit and beautiful on Christmas morning. In recent years they've even commented that they get tired of the tree by the time Christmas gets here. Sorta sad...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In general, I think children are growing up much too quickly now. Even when my kids were little there was a book called The Hurried Child. But if we go back a century or so many children were working in factories! So we need to help children keep some of the innocence of childhood as long as possible.

      Delete
    2. I remember that book!! Kids these days have more active social calendars than I do - it's amazing. Well, not really social but you know what I mean. They're booked for something every day, some of them. Scouts, sports teams, music/dance lessons, book clubs, even day care should probably be included - anything away from the home. Even the pre-schoolers. In my day, a child was basically home with its mother for 5 solid years - until kindergarten. You went to church, to your grandparents, maybe on family vacation. I think I knew a few girls who started dance school at 4, but that was it. I really admire your DIL for her decision to be home with her kids. IMO, Olivia and her little sibling are going to be getting some real advantages - and this is not to say they can't have some outside activities before they go off to school. But I think there's a definite correlation between overbooked kids - and families where both parents work outside the home.

      Delete
    3. Janet, our school system now has all-day kindergarten and I know some schools have eliminated recess!

      Delete
    4. When I began teaching in the late 70s, all-day kindergarten was standard in my district, although my generation went half-days. And as a teacher, I would agree with the thinking that we make the school day longer and the school year longer as well. But what that extra time would consist of would be different, depending on the child's age. Example - all-day kindergarten in my district includes a nice chunk of afternoon nap time, which is good because, IMO, the Fives still need a nap.

      Delete
    5. So do 60 somethings!!! :)
      Chris W

      Delete
  10. I love your outdoor creche, Cathy! It's a wonderful tradition to put it up each year, because you can do it no matter who else is going to be there to celebrate with you. I think that's part of the key to establishing new traditions as our families grow and change. Our family tradition when the kids were young and at home was to have our big meal on Christmas Eve. That way I was free to enjoy Christmas Day. Also, most years my parents would join us. Then when my oldest son and his wife were doing their residencies they couldn't get Christmas day off, so we went through a number of years where we would celebrate Christmas on the day that worked for them. During those pre-grandchildren years of having young adult children we established a tradition of having a family "bake off" during the holiday period. We would work in teams of two and everyone would make something to contribute for the meal. It was total chaos and a huge mess, but lots of fun. Now we are moving into a new stage, that of married kids who have children of their own. Like you, I think soon they will be wanting to stay in their own homes for Christmas and establish their own traditions. To be honest, I feel more than a little sad about that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your input, Kristie. I feel OK about my kids establishing their own Christmas traditions since that is what I did when I left home. It's Thanksgiving I'm having a hard time with because one of my daughters-in-law wants to host Thanksgiving at her house next year and frankly, it makes me feel relegated to the background. Christmas Day is my day-off, too! We either go out to eat or Ken makes the meal since I've spent the month baking, shopping, wrapping, doing cards, etc. I think it should be this way for ALL women!

      Delete

Thank you for your comments! Please note: To prevent spam comments are published after moderation.