Christmas memory creating

This is OK
I'm sure I've written about this before but every year I struggle with the pressure to be an uber mum and have some kind of Christmas craft decorating the house.  Instead I end up with a leaning Christmas tree that the kids have decorated themselves (certainly not going to make the cut for a Myer catalogue), with lights that drove the husband to distraction to untangle.

There's a trend (especially in Christian circles) to create family traditions.  And I'm a total believer.  Good, healthy childhood memories and traditions have been shown to be very significant in developing high levels of security and resilience.

But over time the memories/tradition trend seems to have developed into some kind of Pinterest Christmas competition.  No longer is the knitted nativity scene that Aunty Pip bought for us from the Mother's Union stall in 2003 enough.  It needs to be done by me.  And this is how my family will unite, bond and be functional.

The problem is, this time of the year is a shocker with five school age kids.  End of year events for everything they and us have been involved in over the year fill our nights and days.  All wonderful rich events and important to mark the end of the year, but they don't leave much time to do Christmas craft.  Especially when Christmas craft isn't really your thing.

So I started to reflect on the Christmas traditions that we have developed.  We put up our dodgy plastic tree covered in Christmas craft from playgroup/preschool/Sunday school/ school/childcare over the last 14 years.  We look forward to our presents.  We go to lots of church starting with our mega carols extravaganza that involves our lovely community.  We fight  negotiate turns to open the advent calendar.  I wish I could say that we're doing other kinds of wonderful, spiritually enriching things.  But we're not.  And my kids seem to 'get' Christmas.

When I was a little girl I don't remember having Christmas traditions involving vast amounts of craft and cooking and stress by my mother.  I do remember that we'd have chicken - which was special and frankly a big hassle in India where you had to buy the chicken live.  We had a pot plant that we'd hoist up on a coffee table and decorate with shiny things.  Under the pot plant would be all the yellow postpaks that our gifts had come in from Australia (could never actually open the post packs because half the time the wrapping had been ripped open by customs so there would be no surprise).  We'd pose with the yellow post paks for a photo to send back to prove that we'd received the parcels before March the following year (in itself a miracle).

I feel like these are lovely memories.  A little unusual perhaps (but hey, when it comes to Christmas, what family DOESN'T have a few wacky things going on?) but in the context of a secure family they're ok.

At the end of the day it still goes back to how you all get on and how special those relationships are.  If you're not crafty just get on with the business of loving your family well.  Those memories count the most.


Peter Sholl said…
Hi Jenny,
Since being here we've developed a new family tradition. Christmas Eve night is the big event here (complete with amateur fireworks - oh so much fun.) This means in many ways Christmas day is a bit of a non-event - so to increase the "event-ness", for breakfast we have pancakes, strawberries and ice cream! I expect this is one of the lasting memories that the kids will have of Christmas in Mexico.
(and we have fun with postpaks as well!)
Deb said…
Jenny, I could just hug you and sob with relief at the same time! With love from a non-crafting, ex-misso kid with school age kids who only bought a Christmas tree for the first time last year.
Hi Jenny,

Oooh I relate to this post!

Keeping with Pete´s Latin America theme, I feel liberated from the growing Aussie ´prove-your-worth-as-a-Christian-mum´ thing at Christmas .... it really is very low-key here in Argentina. Very few trees, no mum-made crafts, or Western family traditions ... just HUGE family get-togethers on 24th and 31st December.

And Christian kids here have a very clear concept of the true meaning of Christmas, uncomplicated by candy canes, trees, Santas in shopping centres etc ...

On occasions there can certainly be TOO MUCH of a good thing!
wide eyed said…
Phew! I am thinking of not even pulling in the Christmas tree from the garden because the husband is away in Thailand. Therefore creating the memory of 'remember the year we didn't have a tree and we just threw presents randomly in the corner still in the bags we bought them in?'
The whole home craft thing is over-rated. And this is from someone who loves craft..but the thought of doing it with her children gives her the shakes.
My mum cooked continuously, sewed lots of our clothes and as children we craved bought biscuits and store bought clothing. Go figure?!

Our one Christmas tradition is loading up the people mover and checking out the Christmas lights. We also used to do an advent calendar but my MIL started buying the kids those Lego ones....4 times 25 new bits of Lego!! Sigh....
Jenny said…
Oh yes, I forgot about the lights. This is a tradition we've 'created' out of convenience. Our suburb is into them BIG time so we just wander down the street, bump into half our suburb and have a lovely evening walk.
Karen said…
No craft here either :)

I'm putting off getting the tree up because it's just an invitation for the one year old to start pulling things off it. I'm recycling last year and the year before's Advent calendar stuff. I might bake some Christmas gingerbread biscuits but I haven't worked up enough excitement to do that yet.

I'm avoiding Pinterest because there are so many beautiful Christmas things to look at that it just causes me to covet what I don't have and will never be able to make, no matter how easy it says it is.

We love the lights too though. Last night on my way back from the 8.30pm supermarket run I saw some lights were up, so we might think about a weekend drive around.
Tasmanian said…
"But over time the memories/tradition trend seems to have developed into some kind of Pinterest Christmas competition."

Sandra said…
we're still finding the odd christmas decoration the cats pulled off the tree last year.
simone r said…
We are not having a christmas tree this year because we'll be in between homes. A great relief! But to compensate there's always the 40cm wooden tree and nativity set that's been up for 2 years continuously...
Kath said…
Sometimes its the quirky, simple, just-our-family memories that draw us together and stick with us isn't it?
I'd love to do cool Christmas stuff, but like most things there's a whole lot more possibility in my mind than in reality. Like this post and hearing about your childhood Christmases.
Jenny said…
That is the height of efficiency Simone! Still laughing!
Pip said…
Did I really give you a knitted nativity scene in 2003? Meh to pinterest I'll take the mothers union knitters anyday.
The scary thing is that 30 years ago our Christmas routine seemed quite sane & normal!
Deborah said…
My most memorable Christmas day as a child was on a train in India (middle day of a 3 day trip to Delhi!). No special food, no decorations, not allowed to open our one present each because there were too many people watching. But it was still fun because of the uniqueness of it!
Jenny said…
OK Debs - you win the LEAST pinteresty Christmas prize!

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