If I told you I had a tough childhood, I would be lying. Sure we didn’t have boatloads of money but we had all that we needed. My father was the traditional breadwinner of the family and my Mother stayed home, raising five children and volunteering with her church to get away from us and be social. When I try to think back on parts of my upbringing that may hint of a child that was harmed or tormented I can think of only happy memories.
That’s what brings me happiness really, is thinking about all the times we spent together as a family, before we all went our separate ways as adults. When we were really young, we would go camping in the summer in the same place, year after year. How things changed when my older sister had to stay home because of work. It really stunk when it was me that had to miss out because of work. We would spend many weekends at either Grandparent’s house with boatloads of cousins. We are all innocent and content.
As a parent I sometimes find myself stressing over if I am giving my kids the same or at least the equivalent amount of memories. Growing up, I remember the room I grew up in, then the room I moved up to, which is still the room that we all crowd into when we go back to visit. I have moved my family a total of three times in in the last eight years. Some people like to change their cars every few years. I guess I like to change houses. My daughter can’t remember her first bedroom and she barely remembers the house that she lived in when she turned two.
“You have to move past Middle School”, my husband will always say. “But it was the BEST years of my young life.” I argue. I want the same for my children. I want them to have only happy memories.
Holidays were big in my house growing up. For Labour Day, twenty-five or so family members would descent upon my Great Uncle’s farm to pile all the wood he could possibly need for the winter. We all had jobs, either on the wagon passing the wood conveyor belt style or in the woodshed stacking the 10 foot high piles. That was a job for the bigger kids. You had to work your way up to that one. One job that I never understood why it was needed was the cook. My Aunt Marie and my Uncle Neil would spend all day in the kitchen preparing meals for the workers. Really, how hard was it to feed that many people three times a day? Boy was I naïve!
Christmas was the biggest Holiday in my house. For the decorations, the cardboard sleigh and reindeer cut-out MUST be placed in the same spot of the living room wall every year, the Santas with the moveable arms, MUST be placed on top of the lampshades and my Elf-looking thing atop of a flying carpet ornament, MUST be placed on the right side of the tree. Tradition and memories are not complete without the precise placement!
The stress of the season for me begins when it is time to pick out our tree. We don’t go to the same place to pick out the tree, we don’t go on a certain day and we don’t take tons of photos. Breathe…it will be ok. Memories will still be made. Right?
The year, the tree went up with only a little bit of foul language. It looks pretty good. As we started to decorate I found the elf-looking thing atop of a flying carpet and one of the Santas with moveable arms that I asked my Mother if I could take to my house years ago. The elf still goes on the right hand side of the tree and the Santa gets attached to a lampshade.
As we were decorating my daughter took all of the various Santas and placed them on the windowsill. “See Mom,” she said. “I always place the Santas on the windowsill.” Wait, what? She has created her own memory? Her own tradition? Ok, I can live with that. I don’t have to create the memory for my family I just want them to have them.
As she sets them up just so, she goes down the list of Santas: “Farmer Santa on the tractor raises reindeer on his farm in the North Pole, Fireman Santa puts out fires in the North Pole, but there aren’t many of them since it is pretty frozen up there, Creepy Santa, well he is just Creepy and Yankee Santa just came in from shooting the Christmas turkey.” I almost didn’t hear what she said about Yankee Santa because I was puzzled by Creepy Santa. There sat my Santa with the moveable arms in with the other Santas, now dubbed Creepy Santa.
“Why is he Creepy Santa?” I asked.
“Mom, look at him. He’s really creepy looking.”
Ok, I’ll give her that, he is kind of creepy looking but to be fair, the thing is circa 1970-something. He’s probably considered a hip and trendy vintage decoration these days!
It gets better though. My kids had friends over a few days ago to watch a movie and as they were trying to decide what to watch, someone suggested White Christmas to which my kids responded: “We can’t watch that, we watch it together as a family on Christmas Eve.”
Ha! You can leave the “Best Memory Maker” trophy on my Christmas mantle right next to the Nativity scene, thank you very much!