Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent Calendar: The Meaning of Christmas - Wishes and Homecomings

It's the annual Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories!  I've participated the past four years (2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012), but this year, there are some new prompts - and that is the case for December 21, 22, and 23.  Here are the prompts:

December 21 – Christmas Wishes
Some wish for specific things while others help make the wishes of others come true. Most of us probably wish for peace, prosperity and good health. Do you have a special Christmas wish that came true, or that you are still waiting to come true? Have you ever helped others fulfill a wish at Christmas?  Tell us about your own Christmas wishes and your memories of Christmases past.

December 22 – Christmas Homecoming
Families are often far apart at Christmas or have to make special efforts just to spend Christmas together. The Christmas Homecoming can take many forms, even a virtual one via Skype or a phone call. What are your memories of homecomings at Christmas? If you could have any one family member – present or past – come home for Christmas, who would it be and why?  Tell us about Christmas homecomings and your memories of Christmases past.

December 23 – The Meaning of Christmas
If someone dropped out of the sky and was unfamiliar with the concept of Christmas, how would you explain it to them? Can you put the meaning of Christmas into words? What does Christmas represent to you and is it different than when you grew up or from the meaning it had for your ancestors?  Tell us what Christmas means to you and your memories of Christmases past.

I had a tough time with these three prompts, so I decided to combine them, and just address the parts I highlighted.

For me, the meaning of Christmas is FAMILY.   And that drives the desire for coming home (wherever home - or homes - may be) and the wish that I could be in two (or more!) places at the same time!

Growing up, Christmas was spent with my parents and siblings, my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, and my maternal aunt.  Often we would also see my maternal grandfather, maternal great aunt, maternal uncle, and the spouses of the latter two.  I remember wishing my paternal grandparents and my aunts and uncles and cousins from that side of the family could be with us, too, but travel from such a long distance (Chicago and places even further north and east) was expensive.

Christmas 1966 at 8015 Sharpview in Houston, Texas
Breathless, December 5, 2007
In my single years as an adult, I'd go home to Houston for Christmas.  My first marriage was to someone from a state far away, to which we moved, and I did not see my family of origin for most holidays for 21 years, from 1984 through 2005.  This was especially hard as some loved ones passed away during that time - I would love to have any or all of them come home for Christmas just one more time!

The love of my life (pictured at left) has three children, and one lives only two hours away.  Being back in Texas, I'm near my family of origin again too - but most of them are three hours away.  Thus the wish to clone myself so I could be in two places at one time!

We typically deal with this issue by visiting with each other at different times during the holiday season.  My beloved is retired, and I'm blessed to be off work the entire week between Christmas and New Years (and generally some time before and/or after, too), and we can be with one family on Christmas Day, and another closer to New Year's Day.  That's the plan for this year, although it will mean missing some members of my family who are also traveling to Austin for Christmas Day, but won't be there later.

My son Eric won't be here for Christmas this year, and that's driven some of the decision to be with Mark's family on Christmas Day.  If Eric were here, I'd want to be sure he saw as many of his blood relatives as possible.  As a child of divorce, he's played the Christmas season shuffle for much of his life, and perhaps that is why he chose this year to stay at his student-housing apartment at graduate school - because he could.

I find I'm missing him more than I expected this year - even more than I did in 2011, when he wasn't here for any part of the break - because at least I knew that year that he was with his dad's family.  I worry about him being lonely this year.  Plus, he was hit in the eye with a racquetball just before the holiday break - and he has to avoid driving (and probably flying) and activities that induce eye strain such as reading or computer work.  I need a third clone to go up to Connecticut!
Eric and me, December 29, 2007
It's rather fitting that we generally place our Christmas tree in front of the wall that is full of family photographs.

This has been a tough holiday season for me.  I injured my shoulder some months ago, and with the pain certain movements produce and a lack of energy (from two hours of exercises per day, and sometimes little sleep due to pain), I did very little decorating this year.  Since Eric was not going to be here, we did not set up a tree, but I also only decorated outside where I could easily reach (so no lights along the gutters - although I now have some names of people who will do this for a fee next year), and I did not get down most of my boxes of indoor decorations.  Doing the Advent Calendar of  Christmas Memories has helped put me in the spirit, as I search for images and stories to respond to the new prompts and differently to the old prompts.

© Amanda Pape - 2013 - click here to e-mail me.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history 24 different ways during 24 days in December! Learn more at    

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