I've told you before about my love for Christmas (that was 'what Christmas means to me pt 1').
Christmas for me is that thing I start yearning for around the time the Americans around me are putting out their Halloween decorations. I cannot wait for December.
It's the 'big present' I get for managing to make it through another year.
And by saying that, it's not Christmas Day or the presents I love, it's the silliness, the fun, the plans and preparations in the 24 days before it.
It's time with my husband and kids, making extra special time together to have fun, to do things together, and my big one 'to make memories' whilst we have the time. I'm only a couple of years to 'losing' Goth Child going away to university. Once she gets a taste of freedom and the wonders of the world she might never come back. I want to build memories of happy Christmases before she goes for her and for me. None of us know how long we've got on this planet, so for me it's vitally important to grab every opportunity we can and not wait too long, because we might not have that 'tomorrow'.
Some of you know that I have tried to take my life a couple of times (don't worry, I haven't had suicidal thoughts for nearly a decade, when I'm very depressed with my cyclothymia I do often wish I wasn't alive (the voices convince me everyone could live happily without me 'ruining' their lives) but that's very different from wanting to die).
One year when very depressed, unable to leave my bed I curled up on the Bed with a small Goth Child (Goth Toddler actually) and watched 'It's a Wonderful Life', cried buckets and realised that the voices were lying to me. I wanted to live again.
I watch it now every Christmas, it's still just as powerful. It helps keep me alive.
When I came to the USA, I returned to 'It's a Wonderful Life' when I was feeling a useless add-on to Mr. D, me not having a job. I grew up with both of my parents working full-time (and ridiculous hours into every evening and weekend). Because of what I saw at home I grew up believing mothers (or fathers) who stayed at home to be lacking in work ethic, not complete, not proper. Having matured and seen life away from my childhood, I know this isn't true. Bringing up our kids and letting them know that whatever they're going through now, no matter how life-shattering and 'crucial' it seems as a kid, it all gets better with time and they are safe and loved and important enough to stop everything I'm doing for them when they really need me. And watching 'It's a Wonderful Life' I saw that Mary Bailey actually rose to being a homemaker, to making a loving, happy home for her family: "day after day she worked remaking the old Granville house into a home" is one of the most powerful bits in the movie for me. Creating a safe place to come home to for you and the rest of the family is valuable work. And making your kids feel loved and wanted is absolutely invaluable.
So anyway, I totally relish and luxuriate in Christmas, and I don't apologise for this. I'm making up for lost time.
And it's not about having things, it's about doing things.
It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to match up to anyone else's Christmas, it just has to be time-out at the end of the year when I look after myself and those I love and strive to fit in as much fun as we can, without making it stressful. If I don't get to do everything on my annual Christmas Bucket List, that's cool. Doing one thing is better than doing nothing.
I also welcome the general better feeling in the world at this time. There does seem to be more kindness and generosity, willingness to help our fellow man (which we all know should be there all year around but we are not perfect people, we're often far from perfect) and lots of more obvious ways that charities step up to publicise how we can help.
So anyway, here's my Christmas Bucket List for 2013. Split into things we do every year, so are 'more essential' than others....but again, if life throws a spanner in the works, I won't stress, the main thing is being together and making the most of our precious time:
(Update: I'll be crossing these off as I do them....that's why some are crossed through)
Every year traditions:
- making and decorating Christmas cookies for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve,
- staying in our pyjamas all Christmas Day,
- watching Christmas movies under duvets with hot chocolate and marshmallows,
- tracking Father Christmas on Christmas Eve on the NORAD site,
- Elfing ourselves,
- making paper chains in front of the telly together,
- going on Christmas lights safaris (driving around the streets at night with Christmas music blasting on the car radio hunting down the best front garden/yard displays,
- do the Peanuts 'I'll be home for Christmas' jigsaw with Goth Child and Melchett one week when Mr. D is away for the week with work,
- putting down 'snow' footprints around the house on Christmas eve because Father Christmas doesn't track snow into the house anymore us living in the desert,
- 'annoy' the kids by singing the whole of Sleigh Ride every time it comes on the radio despite only knowing an 1/8th of the entire lyrics,
- tuning the car radio to KEZ 99.9 Phoenix's Holiday Station from mid November,
- having enough spare change on me so I can give to every charity collector or chugger as we call them in the UK that I see.
(I might explain and show you pics of these over the years in the next few weeks).
Christmas extras wish to-do list:
- Watch as many cheesy Christmas movies as I can whilst doing things around the house or now with Netflix, whilst waiting to pick up kids from school or appointments,
- Watch with the family our Christmas classic movies: Elf, Die Hard, Home Alone, Scrooged, The Santa Clause and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
- Take out special time to watch It's a Wonderful Life,
- Introduce Goth Child to MST3K's version of Santa Claus vs. the Martians,
- Make handmade Christmas tree ornaments for my Sewing Lair Christmas tree as the new Dining Room tree has stolen the ones it had (we are up to 8 Christmas trees this year.....I'll definitely post you pics of these next week),
- Do a 'Christmas letter' for 2013 on fanbloomingtastic.com,
- Write a letter to Father Christmas,
- Read How The Grinch Stole Christmas,
- Listen to Tim Curry reading A Christmas Carol,
- Bake mince pies, (twice)
- Bake cheese and bacon twists,
- Drink eggnog,
- Decorate Hartley (my car) for Christmas,
- Update my Christmas snowflakes post as it regularly gets the most hits throughout the year, it could do with some more links to templates,
- Go to Zoolights,
- Go to the Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony and Parade of Lights,
- Make a gingerbread house with Melchett (this usually ends in complete wrecks but it's fun....a gingerbread house isn't a gingerbread house, a gingerbread house is the fun-together-doing of it, to misquote Souffle Girl),
- Do some random acts of kindness,
- Buy at least one present from a charity alternative present site like Oxfam Unwrapped (here's the UK site, here's the US one, and I know there are AU and NZ versions too), or UNICEF's Inspired Gifts, or World Vision, or any of these suggestions,
- Give to the local food bank,
- Make paper snowflakes and decorate a room like in Elf,
- Update the Christmas past photos on the electronic photo frame,
- Change ringtones to Melchett's recordings from when she was a toddler....including this beauty:
OK, that's about it....off to make some Christmas decs out of buttons for my Sewing Lair tree.
If you're a Grinch (pre-heart growing two sizes) or a Scrooge (pre-ghostly visits) you might want to avoid this blog for the rest of the month.....I LOVES ME CHRISTMAS and I WILL be sharing it with you :)
Laters, have a wonderful weekend, hug someone you love....