The Holidays Approacheth

dog opening Christmas present

my Willow girl
I’m wondering what kinds of traditions people have for the holidays? Especially anyone who doesn’t have their family nearby. Fortunately, most of the people who read this blog don’t appear to be in that situation.

My family has traditions like measuring noses to see whose nose is the biggest. It’s not mine!

measuring nose

A couple of my past Christmases, I traveled to California to visit with my son. I’ve also gone to Arizona a few times. But this year, a Dec. 23rd divorce pretrial prevents me from going anywhere. Gee, I wonder why that date was wide open? Maery Christmas!

My cousin A invited me to spend Thanksgiving at her house, which is definitely something to be thankful for. I’ve heard her family is well known for rather strange games at gatherings. I’ve also heard there are puzzles. I love puzzles! I’m serious here. I don’t do them much because I become slightly, okay, very obsessed.

Last Thanksgiving I was in Arizona. We spent the day by our Dad’s/Grandpa’s bedside where he remained unconscious until he passed away on the 28th. I think about that a lot as the holiday approaches again. There must have been ten of us sleeping in the living room on chairs, couches, the floor. Actually, there was no sleeping. We were all listening to him breathe and stealing covers and pillows from each other.

Christmas is tough, just because of the nature of the holiday itself. It seems to come overladen with expectations, some from others but often they are our own internal fantasy of the perfect Christmas.

I may be invited somewhere, but it’s hard not to feel the abscence of well, all the people that are absent – my adoptive Mom and Dad and brother, and my birth Dad because of death; my husband, stepdaugher, stepson and the rest of that side of the family because of divorce; and my son, my two brothers, three sisters, birth Mom and their spouses and nieces and nephews because of distance.


My Mom (adoptive), son, and me


My brother (adoptive)

family photo

Mom, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nephews, and nieces (biological)
Dad and sons

Dad and my brothers (biological)

Even when I have a group of people to spend the holidays with, just seeing people with their families, laughing and sharing family stories, makes me miss mine so much. I try not to let it make me feel sad and just enjoy the people I’m with, but it’s hard.

I’m always wishing I had that too, those family traditions that carry on from year to year, those funny stories that you love to tell over and over, those people who just know and accept each other because they’re family. I guess that’s why I love phone calls from my son so much.


It doesn’t always have to be blood or a lifetime of memories that bind people together. There are other things that give you that “These are my people!” feeling. Meeting other writers is like that. Or other dog lovers or horse lovers. Even meeting someone who’s been through similar struggles in their life. You have an understanding.

Since it doesn’t appear my family distance predicament is going to change anytime in the near future, I’m trying to figure out how to expand my definition of family.

I’ll definitely include Cousin A since we did practically grow up together and act like sisters. I even pulled her hair once and scared her to the point of tears with a scary bedtime story. How more sisterly can you be?


My cousin A and I showing off our henna tattoos
What’s that song? “Love the One You’re With”; I think it can apply to more than just lovers.

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  1. I have been very fortunate to live close to family. We have spent some holidays away, and it is hard, but also enjoyed the time at home too. Sounds like you will have a great time with your cousin.

  2. I’m fortunate in living close to family, albeit a fairly small family. The tradition is that they all come stay at my house for Xmas. But, I have to admit that I dread Christmas every year. I absolutely hate the whole commercial side, and much of my family has bought into it bigtime. I breath a sigh of relief when it’s over.

    Maybe I need to work on my attitude this year! Or, try to change the family gift traditions that keep growing and growing.

    I had a few years when my family was all away for xmas and I couldn’t travel due to my back. I used the days around Xmas to enjoy the utter solitude on the trails and ski slopes.

    But, I love your attitude!

  3. I cook the turkey and trimmins for around 36~38 and transport it to my MILs house ’cause she likes to have it at HER house, she’s 82 and not in the best of health.

    After dinner the guys get out the guns and go target shootin’ and compare wepons. The kids climb up the hill behind the house to slide down the huge sliding rock until they burn holes in their britches.

    Some couples will talk long walks in the woods where I swear we have had great nieces and nephews conceived. This year I want to try to get a family photo.

    Christmas is ham and all the trimmings at my house. Much easier than transporting a meal that large.

    Have a fantastic day enjoying your blessings and traditions!!!

  4. The first 3 or 4 years after my divorce was awful for just those reasons, I had lost that whole side of his family (even some I liked, a sister-in-law that I considered like a sister)…and OUR friends. It was like I had to start all over again. But now, my friends are Mine and Mine alone! (darn it)
    I was lucky, of course, to still have my own family.

  5. Maery Rose…In terms of family, we have one of our daughters and her family in town, but that is pretty much it for local family. Our oldest daughter is in Nevada with her crew…so, what we do during the holidays…is invite friends who were going to just stay home alone or have no family. Thanksgiving may be 10 or 12 people, but Christmas Eve is gigantic. We may have 25 or 30 and have been doing it for years. No presents, just food and good conversation. It is quite a mix and the best pot luck food you could ask for. You and Java are invite (the horses too).

  6. Dusty – I know your clan has a good time whenever they gather.

    KB – I’m with you on not liking the big, extravagant gifts. It’s so hard to pick things for other people when people are always buying for themselves and don’t really need anything. I really appreciate a purse size hand lotion or my son once made a CD of a bunch of music he knew I’d like. I loved that present.

    Nezzy – I can just picture the guys out shooting after dinner! That’s one way to wake up everyone after eating lots of turkey.

    Lynn – Well, hopefully this will be the last holiday I’ll be spending completely away from all my family.

    Roxanne – I really believe so too.

    Lori – I wish I could make it. I’m definitely traveling somewhere next year at the holidays. I wish I knew other people in my situation, but I don’t.

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