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It’s Thanksgiving week already!
The holiday season is going into full swing and won’t slow down until January. Therefore, it is very fitting that the TOS Homeschool Blog Cruise topic this week is all about how each family celebrates the holidays.
Having moved literally across the country (Maryland to Alaska definitely qualifies for that statement!), our manner of celebrating the holidays is in flux. So, I’ll share a bit of how we celebrated in the past as well as how we plan to celebrate this year.
When we were newly married and living an hour from Mr. O’s family, we typically spent Thanksgiving Day with either his mother or father and might have even hosted at our house a few times. Without going into detail, I’ll just say that families with divorce in the mix can be challenging at holiday time.
Upon our move to Ohio, we found ourselves joining his cousins, aunt, uncle and their extended family for a large gathering on Thanksgiving. The kids would all have a blast playing while the women chatted and the guys watched football (and chatted.) These gatherings became an ‘ode to the crockpot’ as most everyone brought their contribution to dinner in a crockpot that joined the line on his cousin’s counter top. His aunt was always in charge of the turkey, which she cooked the day before and had warming in juices…in a crockpot! I’m getting misty-eyed just thinking about how we’ll miss being there this year.
For the few Thanksgiving’s we celebrated in Maryland, we had a low key dinner at our house. Actually, my sister that lives up there already had a group of friends with their own traditional dinner which meant she’d visit with us for dinner the day after. Last year was different, though, as we had my parents plus my other sister and her family all up visiting before our big move. Dinner was at our place and we took some family photos right afterwards. One of them is below. Unfortunately, the sun was bright and it was impossible to get everyone looking good for the pictures. (We don’t have that problem at our new place.)
This year we have been invited to celebrate en mass with one of Mr. O’s co-workers. He likes to host gatherings at his place and I hear it will be quite the crowd. The word on the street is that crab legs (GIANT ones as this is Alaska!) will be making an appearance alongside the turkey for dinner. I’ve already been told that my homemade rolls are requested to materialize there as well. I brought a bunch to the last dinner we attended there and let’s just say those warm rolls did not wait around for the rest of dinner.
For many, this time seems to be overlooked. In our church year, it is a fantastic time to reflect and prepare. The kids usually do an Advent calendar. We’ve also participated in Saint themed events some years, specifically Saint Nicolas Day and Our Lady of Guadalupe. If I want to have an event like that this year, I need to get busy planning it and invite people to join us!
We have also spent time in our homeschool to celebrate Advent. And, in some years we scale back the ‘core’ work and add in more holiday themed work. The older boys loved working on a lapbook about The Grinch that Stole Christmas and still pull them out. D is already asking if HE can make his own, although we might do a different Christmas themed one as a family this year. I’m just deciding which it will be.
Most years, we have been very low key for celebrations. Back in New York, we tried to balance seeing his parents with our desire to spend time as a ‘nuclear’ family. In Ohio, we had a few years when his aunt hosted Christmas Eve or Christmas Day dinner at her place which we attended. A few times both while living in New York and Ohio we journeyed south to Louisiana and spent time with my family. But, usually, it is just our family at home.
One thing that we have found in the past is that we prefer the less congested Christmas Day Mass to the frenzied Christmas Eve Masses. When we have gone to Mass on Christmas Day, the boys were allowed to open a few gifts before we ate some breakfast, got dressed appropriately, and then drove to church. While the boys often complained about having to stop and shift gears, I think they enjoyed knowing they would come home to a few more presents to open.
The last 2 years we did attend Christmas Eve Mass, but at the smaller mission church crowds were not an issue. In 2008, I was the accompanist for the early Christmas Eve Mass (with a short time spent at home before driving back out to sing a Midnight Mass.) R and D both participated in the short Nativity Play that year.
This year, I have been asked to accompany at the early Christmas Eve Mass for the children’s choir. I’ll be praying that the selections are easy and familiar as I have not really sat down and played since before Little J was born last October. Thankfully, I have the new digital piano in the house so I can practice. Whether we’ll have a quiet, family dinner at home, invite a few friends over to celebrate with us, or go to another family’s house is yet to be determined.
Rarely have we done anything for New Years Eve or New Years Day. Occasionally, P has tried to stay up late to ring in the new year. We do go to Mass that day as well as plan a nice dinner. And, that’s about it. Given how low key that is, I doubt we’ll see any changes this year.
So, there you have it…. the past, present and future of holiday celebrations for the O’s. Clicking on the Blog Cruise button at the top of this post will bring you to the TOS Homeschool Crew page where you can read how other families celebrate the holidays.