i’ve had several reasons this week to make me extremely aware of how important family and friends are. i am so thankful for life and love, and i’m so very lucky to have all of you in my life. i’m also incredibly thankful, now more than ever, that we are able to visit our family in texas right after christmas. ❤
i don’t know what’s wrong with me. i haven’t been able to feel what has been dubbed as “the christmas spirit” at all this year. i’ve been frustrated by the number of houses on our street that are completely overloaded with christmas lights and blow-up decorations (you know the ones–they remind me of a jump castle). instead of appreciating these families’ holiday spirit, the only thing i can think is “if these people put half the time, energy, and money into charity work or donations that they put into draping decorations and lights over anything that stands still for more than five seconds, the world would be a better place.” i know it’s really bitter and sort of hypocritical of me to think this way, but i can’t help it.
i have a couple of days off til my last final on monday, so i thought maybe if i loaded all my christmas cd’s into my itunes and played them really loud while i do chores & stuff… just maybe i’d feel a hint of christmas cheer? so i converted my cd’s into itunes and even downloaded a few songs that i love that i didn’t have in my collection. and as soon as i pressed “play”…
i started crying. i don’t know what on earth is wrong with me.
i think it might have something to do with the way my family dynamic has changed over the years. listening to things like bing crosby and ella fitzgerald and frank sinatra remind me of waking up at mamaw & papaw’s house on the weekends (because i spent EVERY weekend there) to the smell of eggs and bacon and grits and coffee. being scolded for not putting on socks before walking on the kitchen linoleum because it was “freezing cold”. sitting at the table and eating breakfast with mamaw and papaw while the christmas music played. putting the decorations on the tree. being allowed to go on the roof with papaw while he put up decorations but only if i stayed seated in the exact center of the roof and did not move one single inch. waiting on christmas eve for all the family to get there so we could open presents, us kids (there were only the two of us until i was about seven or eight) barely able to contain our excitement. all the yummy food and family and love and general happiness.
and then there was christmas with nana. it used to be held on christmas eve when i was very little, but then as our family grew to amazing numbers. nana has six CHILDREN (if you say “kids”, nana will say, “they are CHILDREN. not GOATS.”), a number of stepchildren that i’m not sure of, 23984709283 grandchildren, and 7760 great-grandchildren. so eventually, we moved our christmas celebration to the saturday after christmas so that all those who had to travel could enjoy christmas day at their respective homes. that’s the tradition we keep with to this day.
those are the things i remember when i think about christmas. being an adult is hard. i wonder if it’s like this for everyone.
now, i’m not so naive or jaded as to think that the problems of today didn’t exist twenty+ years ago. i know there have been times of economic hardship, family quarrels, what have you. but when you grow up and are privy to these types of details, some of the magic goes out of everything. i never really wanted to grow up, but it seems as though everyone around me did. i feel kind of like peter pan, when he goes back to the nursery to find wendy darling all grown up with children of her own.
this is not in any way supposed to be a pity party. it’s merely an exploration of why i’ve been feeling the way i have.
i remember my very first christmas away from my family. it was when we lived in california. i was fortunate enough to spend every christmas with my family until i was twenty-four years old. that christmas was really hard for me. i remember willy & i went to disneyland one weekend in december. after the fireworks, they had a “snowfall” in front of the castle & on main street, and i sat there bawling my eyes out in the middle of my most favorite place, because i missed my family so much and wouldn’t get to see them.
and now that i’m “all grown up” and the kids of my generation are having kids of their own, things are much harder for me than i ever thought they would be. i wish i knew a way to make it better.
maybe once willy and i have our own children (if we do have any, that is), christmas will feel magical again.
maybe all i need is a trip to see the james island festival of lights with my family.
maybe i need a swift kick in the rear end. 😉
in order to put a little magic into christmas for other people, i’m going to commit to doing some charity work this christmas. i was just saying to willy last night, “i don’t know what i’m going to do with myself over christmas break! i’ll have no homework or studying, and no classes to go to. wow.” (i haven’t really had a break all year–i went straight from spring semester to summer to fall, with about a week in between each.) well, now i know what to do with that time.
this was pretty hard to write. reliving those old memories in words instead of just in my head was sort of tough. i don’t think i can clearly convey the meaning my family holds for me. when my sister and i were younger, our friends never understood why we were always doing things with family on the weekends. there was always a shopping trip with an aunt, an uncle’s birthday party, a family dinner, etc. we didn’t realize that other families weren’t necessarily like ours. we didn’t know that our friends thought their families were lame, because we thought ours was the coolest ever. now that we’re grown, we know how lucky we’ve been and can properly appreciate what we have, because it’s really something that should be treasured and never taken for granted.
download this: have yourself a merry little christmas by judy garland. because it’s one of my favorite christmas songs, sung by one of my all-time favorite movie stars, in one of my very favorite movies (meet me in st. louis).
i’ve been remiss on keeping up with thankful for thursdays lately! you have my most sincere apologies. but in a way, i’m sort of glad that I forgot, because today presented the most perfect thing for me to blog about being thankful for:
she is one amazing lady, people. she’s raised six children, outlived two husbands, taken care of countless friends and relatives, and is just an all-around wonderful, beautiful, loving, giving, graceful person. if i could only use one word to describe my nana, “graceful” would most definitely be the perfect word (aside from the time her black panties fell off at the VFW…heh heh heh. she’ll kill me for that, but it’s so worth it. if you want the full story, don’t hesitate to ask).
she has six children and six children-in-law (she also has other step-children from her second marriage, but i don’t know them well), twelve grandchildren from those kids (and eight of us are or have been married), and nine great-grandkids from those grandkids (so far!) and those are all just her direct descendants. she also has step-grandkids, grands-in-law, etc etc etc…. and can i tell you this?
the woman NEVER forgets a birthday card!
i’m so proud to call her my nana, and amazingly grateful to have inherited many of her finer traits. 😉 par exemple (that’s fancyspeak for “for example”):
today, i met my mom and sister at atlanta bread company for lunch. afterwards, we decided to stop by and visit with nana (by the way, everyone calls her nana) for a while. when we got there, her friend juanita was there visiting too. she told us that they had just been eating apples & peanut butter (aha! that’s where i get my peanut butter obsession!) and drinking coffee, pretending that they were socialite ladies at high tea.
my sister and i stared at each other. this is SO something the two of us would do. yeah, the whole “let’s pretend” thing carried over into adulthood. “hey, let’s pretend we’re not just in the pool, but we’re in the pool on a cruise ship on our honeymoons with our new husbands, because we just got married in a double wedding!” turned into “hey, let’s pretend we’re not just sitting here at starbucks ogling that hottie over there. let’s pretend that he’s actually flirting with us!” or “let’s go to the antique store and buy vintage teacups and drink our tea and/or coffee out of those instead of plain old mugs, and pretend we are british.”
speaking of pretending to be british, my mom & aunts were also always avid citizens of the land of pretend (and i’m not speaking of the creepy puppet world to which mr. trolley took us on mr. rogers neighborhood…) the last time we went to disney world as a family, which was willy’s and my fifth anniversary a couple of years ago, mom, dad, foxycleopatra, & i used our best brit-talk and totally pretended to be from london. the hubster was not a participant. he doesn’t do pretend. he does “what if”, which i absolutely abhor. anyway, it was fun.
also, whenever we were younger and my aunt lived in fernandina beach, florida, we all took on alternate personas and had “beach names”. i honestly don’t remember what we kids chose as our beach names, but the best part was that my aunt’s beach name was “india”, and my mom’s was “asia”. how amazing is it that they participated in these games with us? anyway, i got a little bit off track there…back to nana.
the more i talk to my nana, and the more stories i hear about her in her younger days, the more i realize i am like her, and that makes me incredibly happy and, like i said before, proud. foxycleopatra and i most definitely get our love of makeup and fashion from her. it’s very funny to see all us “clemmons girls” go somewhere in the car together, because right before we arrive at our destination, we all pull out our gear to touch up the lipstick and powder the noses.
people are constantly telling me that i am a calming influence, and i believe this is something that comes from nana as well. (for crying out loud, she gave me a tranquilizer on my wedding day! lol! but we all know that’s not what i meant…) she also tells it like it is, while still being compassionate.
i love my nana so much, and i’m incredibly grateful to have her in my life. she just recently got herself a little one-bedroom apartment, and she says she’s the happiest she’s been in a long time. i hope that she stays healthy and happy for much, much longer. it saddens me to think that if i ever have children, they might not get the chance to know nana. but man, will we all have fun regaling them with stories about how amazing she is. 🙂