The Gulf Coast (Weeks 9 & 10)

I always struggle with gift giving expectations during the holidays. I love giving gifts to friends and family throughout the year as I see special items that they would enjoy, but it is often difficult to find something personal under pressure during the holidays. What do you give your parents/spouses/grown children that have everything or could obtain anything they would like? I don’t want to give meaningless items or gift cards just to give a gift, but I also don’t like the feeling of guilt if I don’t give anything at all. For me the best part of Christmas is the fellowship with family. Sitting around telling stories, playing card games or dominoes, eating until we are miserable, and just enjoying each other’s company. To me, it’s about the memories that are created.

Throughout the years I have decorated my Christmas tree with random ornaments (no theme involved). Most of the decorations consisted of my kids handmade items from elementary and random treasures that we picked up over the years. The year my son joined the military, I decorated the tree in a patriotic theme of red, white, blue, and USA flags. I did that for a couple of years, but this year I went back to the handmade ornaments. It brings me joy to see the special, little pieces full of memories.

It brought an idea to mind. What if we each make a handmade ornament to bring to Christmas instead of purchased gifts? I discussed it with my mom and sister and they were both excited about it. I can’t wait to see what everyone brings and whose special item I get to place on my tree for years to come! I made a few extra ones just in case someone doesn’t have time or is unable to bring one. My daughter has decided to attempt making salt dough ornaments from my MawMaw’s recipe. I wish I had thought of that! I had completely forgotten about those ornaments that she had made when I was a child, but I guess she didn’t!

When I was a child, I thought all holidays were “happy” and “celebratory” for everyone. I realize now that they can be very painful for some people. Christmas will be different this year for us because of the loss that we experienced. We are not alone, other families will experience the same, but I am excited to go home for a week to spend time with family and friends. It will be the longest timeframe that I have been home in almost a year! My son should be arriving (on leave from the Army) and my daughter will be home as well. My husband continues to recover from his recent rodeo injury, so we will all be together under “one roof” again real soon 🙂

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