I have been taking a break during the chaotic times between the election and holidays but now I am back to talk about changes I am making this year to simplify the season.
Each year around this time I have moments of sadness and melancholy. I had a difficult childhood and my only sanity in those times was my Dad. He was always there when I needed him and I can safely say was one of my best friends. He died 4 days after my son was born almost 11 years ago. At that time in my life, I was raising a 3 1/2-year-old, a 16-month-old and a newborn. There was no time for grieving, only taking care of my family. I could not say he died until about 7 years later. I liked to pretend he was on an extended vacation because to say he died was to really accept he was gone and never coming back.
It occurred to me a few years ago that during the holidays I witnessed my friends spending time with their families, reminiscing of childhood memories that brought laughter and a sense of connection. I do not have that. My childhood was horrible and all my family has passed on. My Dad was the only one I was connected with and now he is not there. I have no one to talk about my past, my history with. It really is lonely to be in that situation. I sit with my husbands family and feel like an outsider. No, I do not know what Uncle so and so was like and how funny it was when brother so and so was 13. There is no one to tell my husband or his family was I was like growing up or the funny things I did. So I try and blend in with the wallpaper during these times.
Then it occurred to me this year when thinking about presents for my children. Why am I buying “stuff”? Things they will like until they get bored with it and move on to something else. I am extremely grateful my kids and grandkids are very appreciative of what they receive but again it is just material items.
But here I am missing my “time” with my Dad. All I have is my memories of him and you know what? I treasure those more than gold. I could go buy the kids all these material pieces and in 20 years they will not remember what I bought them for Christmas. But they will remember the memories that we created.We are telling everyone we know, please do not buy us anything, we would rather have time with you to create timeless memories to reflect upon when they are not near.
So this year we chose to buy a family vacation as our present. We found airfare to Europe for $450 roundtrip. We are taking the kids for 2 weeks to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. To help with costs we are staying in apartments. One has a view of Neuschwanstein Castle. We are doing the Sound of Music tour and buying schneeballen in Rothenburg. Yes, it is a bit more than the usual gifts we buy but really how can you put a price on that. Someday when we are gone my children will tell their children how they toured Cinderellas castle and sang Do-Re-Mi in Salzburg.