Sunday, December 13, 2009


The holidays have been so surreal this year. With our move in mid October, we never really got our ducks in a row about celebrating Halloween this year. We went and saw a movie with the boy (Cloudy with a chance of Meat Balls – excellent flick) and then went to fun, fifties dinner, Ruby’s in the mall. We saw costumes and the boy was very entertained. With no family around but us, it didn’t feel like we were missing out on much by not participating. The boy, he never knew the difference. All the same, of course, I felt a bit guilty.


When Thanksgiving rolled around, well the boy and I had been sick for about 3 weeks. My husband was just sliding into it himself. Again, we had no family around us, which was fine, and so we played it low key. I made lasagna, which in all honesty felt like a special occasion for all the take out we’d been consuming. And again, the boy had no idea of the holiday. Reasonable decisions? Yep. Sane decisions? Yep. Guilt? You bet.

meet me there

Weeks away from Xmas with absolutely no shopping to do (we are forgoing the gifts this year in light of our need to finance this thing called “life” with only a small stipend from the generous folks in the federal government {aka unemployment}.) we are barely preparing for the holiday. I think, aside from the pure joy the boy has shown for houses dressed up in the dark in lights and glowing animal forms, this holiday will probably quietly slip us by also. Guilt? Sure. That’s hard to escape I’m realizing. I’m pretty sure it’s hard wired into me.

Ultimately though, I don’t think I feel so much guilty for not doing the holiday’s the way I think I should, or the way I’ve done them in the past. I think it’s a beautiful thing to evolve family traditions and reinvent what celebrations mean to you along the line of one’s life. I’m just really not sure how to do that.

Protector's perch2

My husband is not one for celebration. He really wouldn’t care if no one ever acknowledged his birthday again. Though he is sentimental about the important moments in his life, he’s also a very practical person. Birthdays to him are a convention, not a personal experience. Other holidays, I think, are vaguely the same for him.

I, also very sentimental about all kinds of personal moments in my life, am feeling very confused about what the holidays mean to me. Somehow I guess I felt that when my son was born I would become Automom, and I would know, with a love burning bright white, exactly the ways in which to show him how to live a luscious, passionate, celebratory life. Still waiting for that to kick in.

leaves fallen

Does it matter that I’ve just got no natural inclination to celebrate this year? It makes some sense. It’s been a difficult year for us. But, I am also so acutely aware of just how lucky we have been. Should I push myself to find a way to celebrate, a way that feels natural and organic to me, but still elusive at this point? Or, do I lighten up, sit back,  take comfort in the ease we have been afforded this year (yay!! no shopping madness)? Will my son suffer from his parents’ disengagement from every single potentially gleeful moment? Will he feel cheated if we don’t make cookies, sing carols, go to pageants, break bread with friends and family, deck the halls, strap every twinkle light possible to the outside of our home? Or, will he remember it more if we simply drive to the snow, crunch it beneath our feet, slide along on slippery sleds, taste it’s bitterly cold nothingness on our tongues, and laugh a happy, genuinely momentous laughs full of future sentiment?

Okay…      I think I just answered my own question.

  *All of the photos in this post are from a walk my son and I took on Thanksgiving. It was at a park on the shore of Lake Washington. In retrospect, one of the best Thanksgiving memories on record.

Thanksgiving 2009


The Giraffe Head Tree said...

We, too, made the decision to forego the holiday madness, Rachel. No gifts but the heartfelt or handmade, no tree, no lights outside, just simple and pure filled with spirit. However, I did just yesterday put up some candles and greenery on our rock mantle because it made me happy. Embrace the simplicity and have no guilt. You're doing the right thing at the right time. Merry Christmas, dear. As always, I adore your photos.

Jennifer Murphy said...

In the long run, kids don't really remember much about the presents or the hoopla. It all becomes a blur. What they remember in detail are the simple times they spent with parents who made them feel loved. I think you're on the right track.

layers said...

I move is always stressful and it takes awhile to acclimate and settle down-- I live north of Seattle on Camano Island-- moved here 9 years ago and finally settled and used to island isolation-- it is fun to see photos of what I see in person-- with a different eye

red or gray art said...

many feel the way you is ok..i miss you on "celebrated" with these images..i wish to send you a birdie..hugs elk