Holiday Traditions

Each family has a set of holiday traditions. What is a tradition?

a belief, principle or way of acting that people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time, or all of these beliefs, etc. in a particular society or group.

dictionary.cambridge.org

Depending on the country where you were born, family heritage, and other factors, we all have different Christmas traditions.

Opening presents vary from family to family. Some open family gifts on Christmas Eve, creating room for the gifts arriving from Santa Claus to be opened on Christmas Day. One family I know open gifts on Christmas Eve with all the family, then feast and games on Christmas Day. My family has always opened gifts on Christmas Day, until everyone left home. The day of opening gifts at our home was scheduled when family members were able to come over to celebrate Christmas.

This year, my husband and I have made another change, we will open gifts on Christmas Day. We are not having a Christmas celebration with other family members at our home. So, we will go back to the original tradition we were both raised with, opening gifts on Christmas Day. Then we will go for a short visit and food at my daughter’s house, provided my husband and I are not sick.

The timing of putting up the Christmas tree. Most of the family put the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. I was raised with a Christmas tree being harvested and decorated the day after Thanksgiving. But when I started my own family I changed the date. My birthday is in the first part of December. I was tired of Christmas crowding my birthday. Hence, I decorate the Christmas tree after my birthday. Those of us who had the opportunity of being born in the month of December, have a lifetime of sharing our birthday with Christmas decorations and traditions combined and often over powering our own celebration.

Gingerbread houses, beautiful creations of decorated cookie structures. I do not know the origins of decorating gingerbread houses, but their beauty has always drawn my attention and fascination. As a child, we never decorated gingerbread houses, but on occasion would make gingerbread cookies. When my children were little, we did not decorate gingerbread houses. Not until my youngest daughter was a freshman in college, I purchased a kit, and we decorated gingerbread houses. From that first start, my other children started buying kits to decorate gingerbread houses. Now, every year each of my children’s family as well as myself decorate gingerbread houses for Christmas. A new tradition in our family we all enjoy.

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Hanging the stockings with care. Growing up, we hung our stockings on a bookcase, as we never did have a fireplace. My children when they were small, their stockings were hung on the dining table on Christmas Eve, as I did not have a place to hang stockings. We moved several times, and the place in the different homes changed, sometimes stair banisters, bookcases and a few years from an old piano. What went into the stocking never changed. I would place in each stocking : an apple, an orange, peanuts, then some chocolate Santas and always a peppermint candy cane, a new toothbrush, socks and lastly a penny for good luck in the coming year. I have stopped putting peanuts in the stockings as it is too messy. When family comes to visit for Christmas I add travel size lotion, hand sanitizer, or a loofah into the stocking instead of socks or a toothbrush.

I always make the cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies and church window candy rolls. Some years I bake more. But those three items are always made at Christmas. The years I have the time and energy to bake more, I give the extra cookies and baked goods away to friends and family. With the baking and cooking I do at Christmas, one our New Year’s resolutions is to always lose weight. The first few months of the New Year we are on a diet to lose the weight gained at Christmas.

The way we celebrate our Christmas traditions change with the stages of life we are in. When my children were young we did many more family traditions of playing games, watching certain movies and cooking together. Today, there are only two of us at home. I no long spend three to four days baking and cooking with my children. I cook the standard three recipes that in my heart have to be made for our celebration. Under the Christmas tree looks lean as there are not many gifts compared to when I had four children at home. To fill the emptiness, I decorate under the Christmas tree, with a Christmas town or train or reindeer. The traditional turkey dinner with all the fixings is a little too much food for two people. I have sent invitation to have others join us for Christmas dinner, only they have their families or friends they spend the day celebrating with. Instead of the traditional turkey dinner, I fix something special such as rib eye steaks, or cornish hens, a special dinner for two.

Traditions change as families merge. When my children married, their spouses had family traditions as well. Each family had to merge the family traditions they were raised with and form their own traditions carrying forward some traditions from each.

Regardless if you have passed down through generations traditions or create new ways of celebrating the holidays together, it is important to celebrate with those you love and create memories. Make each day you have be special.

amtolle

Thankful for Family

November is the month we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. A day of celebrating with a feast, family and friends the events and things we are thankful for having in our lives.

I am thankful for family. This year I had a granddaughter born as well as three grandsons, a set of triplets. My children are finished increasing the size of their families. I am blessed and thankful for fifteen living grandchildren.

I am thankful for my spouse, my husband of thirteen years. I am so thankful he was not bothered when I was gone for two months helping my daughter and her family before and after the triplets were born. He took care of the farm and worked his job while I was away. He is always there to talk to and share my thoughts and feelings during the year. He handles my anxiety and quirky was like a pro.

This year my oldest daughter and her children visited us for the first time at the farm. Her children were able to learn some about riding horses from their granny. We made birdhouse and windchimes. The most important thing is we made memories.

Once again I was able to have my grandson, Mr. J, for a few weeks this summer. Mr. J came to live with me for several months when he was two years old. And he has visited me every summer for three to four weeks, except the first year of Covid. Needless to say we have a special relationship. We fish and ride the horses, garden, paint something and do a lot of talking. This year he is thirteen years old. We both realized that the summer visits will eventually come to an end. This year we truly cherished the weeks we had together.

There was sadness this year as well. My husband sister passed away due to cancer. My uncle passed away due to medical issues. Both of them are missed.

I am thankful for family.

amtolle

“Rub My Back, Please”

Since the end of August I have been at my daughter’s home caring for my granddaughter, then when the babies came home, helping with the babies. While at my daughter’s I slept on the bottom bunk with my granddaughter. She enjoys sleeping with Granny, and Granny rubbing her back until she goes to sleep.

Change is hard for all of us, but especially for those who are little children. When I went to stay at my daughter’s home, my daughter had been admitted into the hospital. The first time my granddaughter had been without her parents. It was a strange time for her, unsettling and insecure. I would lay down with her at night, rub her back and she would go to sleep, in the comfort that Granny was there with her. This soon became a routine.

When the babies came home, I continued with the routine of sleeping with my granddaughter, as well as getting up to help feed babies. Feeding goes much faster if three people are feeding three babies, than if there are two people feeding three babies.

My oldest daughter came down to visit and help with the babies. When I was leaving, my granddaughter made a statement that her aunt could sleep with her and rub her back. Her mom quickly told her that Granny was the only one going to rub her back. It is something that Granny does, not everyone else.

I was told I had spoiled my granddaughter, not a bad thing. She had learned to go to sleep on her own, and that she was of the age she can do so. I am allowed to spoil her, as being a Granny allows for those spoiling moments. Me rubbing her back was a special thing that she shares with Granny and no one else.

Change at times is hard. For my granddaughter being the only child for five years and wanting a sibling, she was eager for the addition. When the three little brothers arrived, small and frail compared to her imagine of siblings she could teach to slide and swing, change was hard. She is not allowed to hold them yet. They are not able to slide or swing. Her words, “They just sleep and eat, they do not go anywhere.” She is happy to have siblings, but misses the attention she once received.

Granny sleeping with her and rubbing her back for comfort and security when mom and dad were in the hospital, transferred to attention and feeling special once the siblings arrived.

The babies are doing well, growing and soon she will be able to interact with them more. In a year or two they will be best friends and constant companions. But now, change is hard being on the sidelines only able to observe and not really participate. Her parents are great, and do help her during this time.

There will always be that special memory of Granny helping, and rubbing her back. Will rubbing her back go away, absolutely not. That is a special bond between Granny and granddaughter that will remain.

amtolle

Best Made Plans

We make plans for holidays, celebrations and just being together with family and friends. The past months I have been doing things to get ready to be a grandmother to triplets. I have these plans of getting certain jobs done, before I am needed to assist my daughter.

Labor Day weekend I planned on getting all the maintenance tasks done on my sheep. I was going to deworm all the sheep and trim their hooves, a job that takes two days with the number of sheep I currently own. There are two young rams I need to dehorn as well.

Friday arrived, and I had my equipment ready to start the task of deworming and hoof trimming one set of sheep, when a phone call came. My daughter was on her way to the hospital and could I come and get my granddaughter and keep her for the weekend. NO PROBLEM, this grandma is always willing to drop everything to have a grandchild for the weekend.

My best made plans for Labor Day weekend took a mighty shift. There are times we make the plans, but God has a different plan. I do not think my plans were bad or out of time, it was just time for something different.

My granddaughter and I enjoyed the weekend together. We fed the sheep and horses in the morning. Painted and made things in the afternoon. I mowed the front yard so she could play on the trees and swing, without the worry of snakes. Mowing the yard was not in my plans for the weekend, but with her arrival, I mowed the yard. She helped PawPaw with the evening chores of feeding the dogs. On Sunday, my granddaughter and I went to her house.

I did not get the sheep dewormed as I did not want my young granddaughter around the deworming medication for the sheep. I do not take risks with my grandchildren. The sheep hooves did not get trimmed. I will reschedule those tasks for another weekend. Are the sheep going to be hurt by the delay, no they will be fine.

Currently, I am on a “holding pattern” as I call it. I am waiting for the next step or plan to start. My daughter is still in the hospital and will stay until the triplets are born. The date they will be born, sometime between today and September 14. I am taking care of my granddaughter at her house. My granddaughter has school to attend. She will have her meals and daily schedule unchanged, at least until the triplets come home. Then everyone’s schedules and plans are going to change.

Making plans are good, as they give us direction and goals. When those plans have to change, does not mean we made a mistake in our planning. Maybe there was more to the plan, than we included. The extra time to be with my granddaughter taking care of her daily needs at this time allows us to make memories together. None of us can see into the future or down the road a few years. Spending time with her, might be a very important time period in her life.

amtolle

Happy Labor Day

Labor Day was started to recognize the working people who keep things going for our everyday needs, mostly unions and labor organization would celebrate this day as honoring the working class. In 1893 New York City had the first Labor Day parade. States began recognizing Labor Day as a day of celebration for the working class. In 1994 Labor Day became a federal holiday.

The Bar BQ, picnics, and family get togethers are another common tradition of Labor Day. The last time of gathering for some summer fun and family connection before the school year started. Many still participate sharing Labor Day this way with family.

While the working people may not be recognized by government or the media, they are the gears that keep our economy and life going. Working to provide the products we need, as well as supporting their families. To have a federal holiday for this celebration is a small reward.

I had my first job at age 15, although I helped my father in his business before this. I have worked everyday since then to support myself and my family, almost 50 years. Since I do not have a huge nest egg for retirement, I will continue to work for the rest of my life. I can celebrate Labor Day as my holiday, a day for the common worker.

There are many traditions associated with Labor Day. One well known tradition is not wearing white after Labor Day. This custom was started by the wealthy elite to distinguish themselves from “new money” and the working class. Wearing white while vacationing was a way of showing their wealth off to others. Personally, I wear white as I look good in white, regardless of the time of year.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy celebration this Labor Day weekend.

amtolle

National Son and Daughter Day

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An unofficial day celebrated in the United States. The National Son and Daughter Day was first recorded in 1936, in Missouri. J Henry Dusenberry came up with the idea after overhearing a young boy asking why there was days to celebrate moms and dads, but not children. Soon Missouri was celebrating National Son and Daughter Day.

In August 1944 the St. Joseph News-Press/Gazette printed an article about J Henry Dusenberry and National Son and Daughter Day. Several clubs and organizations promoted the celebration. In 1972, a Florida congressman presented a bill to congress to create a National Son and Daughter Day as an official holiday, but the bill was not voted on.

People continue to celebrate a day for children. Children are believed to be life’s greatest gift, and the future in many cultures. Some places of employment allow employees to bring their children to work as a celebration of the holiday.

For some parents, it is a day to separate from everything else, and spend time with their children, focusing on them only and creating memories. I think it is important to celebrate a day for sons and daughters. Today, both parents usually work, children are in daycare, school and after school programs, leaving very little time for just family. Having a day that celebrates children, helps parents keep in focus on what family is. Children are with us a short time, then they are adults living a life of their own.

As parents we should slow down, take the time to keep in touch with our children, young or grown. Let our children know they are loved, create or remember memories and events. To connect.

amtolle

Triplet Update

This week I was honored with the invitation to attend an ultrasound appointment with my daughter who is pregnant with spontaneous triplets. Spontaneous triplets are conceived without any assistance from fertility drugs or treatments. They were wanting another baby, and was blessed with three.

According to the CDC, triplets happen in 1 out of 10,000 pregnancies. Majority of triplets are conceived with the aid of fertility treatments. Becoming pregnant with triplets without the assistant of fertility treatments is more rare.

They are 28 weeks in gestation, the beginning of the third trimester. Being able to view the ultrasound and see my grandchildren was thrilling. They are crowded inside, moving a lot. They are doing very well. Each baby weighs a little over 2 pounds, total is over 7 pounds. I was able to hear the heart beats of each baby. We were also able to see and hear them practice breathing.

As a mother in the 80’s and 90’s, I only had two ultrasounds during my four pregnancies. Being able to see my grandchildren during this visit was a blessing beyond measure. These three grandchildren bring the number to fifteen grandchildren. I am blessed.

Babies and mom are doing well. We are looking forward to their delivery in September. Prayers and positive thinking are appreciated.

amtolle

“The Mommy Switch”

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I am a happy and proud mother of four children. One of the happiest moments in my life was when I became a mother. Upon becoming a mother, a switch turned on, the “mommy switch”. Life became centered around providing for, teaching, and protecting my children.

Time marches on, they grow up and become their own person. Each child starts their own lives, finding spouses and having their own children. In the process of each child growing up, and establishing their independence, I have learned to control my instincts and impulses as a mother to tell my children what they need to do, choices they should make and direct their lives. I want to protect them from making the mistakes I made, feeling the pain of those mistakes. As a mother, I still desire for my children to be happy with no pain or disappointments. My words at times is considered “unwanted advice”.

This “unwanted advice” or meddling can cause problems in the relationship with my children and their spouses. But I have not learned how to turn off the “mommy switch”. I keep my words to myself, but how do I deal with the desire to speak? I voice my concerns in prayer.

When things happen in my children’s lives, things I can not speak to them about, I pray. I take the energy of concern and put the words I desire to speak and focus them in prayer for my children.

My children are now parents. They have experience with the “parent switch”. They are starting to feel the desire to speak to their teenage children about concerns, yet also realize they have to make some decisions on their own as they are becoming adults. My children are learning the challenges of the “parent switch”.

My children learning the “parent switch”, they now understand my difficulties of when I said something they considered meddling at the time, to be the voice of a concerned loving parent.

Recently I was asked by one of my children of how to speak to their teenager about a situation. My grandchild thinks they have been bullied at school. When all the facts were brought forth, they and another student was competing and verbally “fighting” to be best friends with one student. We had a discussion on defining bullying. Then the discussion turned to what makes a friend. A person who chooses to be friends with one person at a time, does not know what friends truly are. There was no reason both of you could not be friends with the student at the same time.

Granny talking to the teenager, although it was the same words used by their mother, had a different effect. A useful verbal communication because of the “mommy switch”.

Living with the “mommy switch” is not easy. Being a parent is not easy. Being a grandparent is a little easier than being a parent, but still has challenges. The “mommy switch” is an important part of our make up in becoming a mother, carries over in being a grandmother. Learning to control the tongue with the “mommy switch” is the challenge.

Still, I love being a mother. I thoroughly enjoy being a Granny. And I look forward, although I hope not too soon to the adventures of being a great-grandmother.

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amtolle

On Mark, Set,….

I have shared my daughter is pregnant with triplets, spontaneous triplets. Most triplets are the results of infertility treatments. My daughter is not on any type of fertility treatments. Hence, spontaneous triplets. A triplet pregnancy is considered very high risk.

This morning I received a call that she was seeing the doctor. An unplanned doctor visit. I may have to pick my granddaughter up from pre-K. I assured her I would be there.

I live two hours away. Then I realized we are approaching the time when unplanned doctor visit are going to occur. In a few weeks she will have to stop working and get lots of rest, eventually bedrest.

With the call, I needed the booster seat in my truck. I needed clothes for staying overnight if that was needed.

We have been planning and doing to help their family be ready for triplets. But, I was not ready. No overnight bag, no prep for my husband if I am not home.

Today, I packed the overnight bag. I have some meals in the freezer. I will be making and freezing more meals. I did an inventory of the sheep feed and supplies. I made a food list of items to stock in the pantry for when I will not be home.

We, they and the whole family are truly excited about welcoming triplets into our family. I have spoken with the children, we have come up with a plan to assist with diapers and wipes (triplets use 18-20 a day). There are baby showers being planned. I will be staying with them once she is sent home, through the delivery and afterwards to help out with whatever needs done and for support.

As a family we realize it will take the whole family to raise the triplets and their sibling.

In our current times, I notice families not as close together as they once were. As a child I went to school with my cousins. Weekends were spent at someone’s home where each individual family gathered to eat and play games.

People have moved miles away from family, like ours, family is scattered to several states. Most of the moving away is for work or job positions as in my scenario of moving due to a job transfer for my husband. Children grow up, go to college, find jobs or serve in the military and move away from the area they called home. Away from parents, grandparents and relatives.

How can “scattered families” stay close and connected. Thanks to technology, there are video chats, and phone calls. Cell phones allow us to talk with the high expense of long distance calling that was standard when I was a child. I am thankful for unlimited minutes and data. I know I use my share in keeping in touch with the grandchildren and children.

Video chats have allowed us to share weddings with those who could not attend. A few birthday parties as well. I can watch my grandson learning to play the piano, see my granddaughter’s solo performance.

All of these tools are great. The key is to remember to use these tools available. I have learned how to do a screenshot of an item I wanted to purchase for my granddaughter’s birthday, wanting parent approval before purchasing. I have learned how to video chat and multiple person conversations. I have to keep learning so I can use the tools to stay connected.

Is it comfortable to ask a twelve year old how to do something with the cell phone? Not really. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

To stay connected I have to get out of my comfort zone. I have to learn to do more with my cell phone besides answer “Hello”. Learning to use technology to stay connected with my family has been a challenge. I have hung up on family trying to connect another person to the conversation. I struggled with connecting to the live video at a birthday party. Learning can be a struggle.

An unexpected reward is hearing my grandchildren tell me “you got it”.

Is our family ready for triplets? I do not know about the others, but the parents are. I am. I did not need to go today. But when I do, I am ready to be there.

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amtolle

Easter

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I love spring, the beginning of the year for me. When everything comes out of the winter hibernation and shows their bright new colors, flowers, trees, grass, and the animals. The animals get a winter coat, when they shed off the winter hair, their color is brighter, cleaner.

Before Easter, there is spring cleaning. The house looks and smells great after a week of deep cleaning. Removing the old to let the new in.

All these things cause a renewing of my inner being, soul and spirit, much as it was intended by our Creator. Easter the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Resurrection of what was dead to new life displayed each spring and celebrated.

I always dream of having all the children, their spouses and the grandchildren in one place for Easter. As yet, the dream has not happened. Each child has their lives and their children to celebrate. Not to mention the hundreds of miles that separate all of us.

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This year my husband has to work. I will go to church alone, which happens a lot since he works most weekends, a crazy schedule 7 on 2 off 8 on and 3 off. Crazy schedule. For some strange reason I have yet to learn the basis of, I still spring clean the house, decorate two weeks before the celebration. A day or two before Easter, I will dye or color eggs, I enjoy the colored eggs that become deviled eggs or potato salad later. I will prepare a meal for Easter, even if the meal is only for two.

I will not let the fact my children and grandchildren will not be present to celebrate, keep me from celebrating and having joy for the Easter. A friend decided not to decorate any longer for Christmas or fix a special meal, it was too much work, there was no one but the two of them. Their children grown with families, and distance prevented them from being with my friend and her husband. They stopped celebrating Christmas, and Christmas became a depressing time of the year for them. I refuse to let that happen to me.

Time changes the way we celebrate occasions as children grow up, have families, people move. Change does not mean to stop celebrating, only to celebrate differently. My children call, I talk with the grandchildren. I am sent videos of the funny or cute things that happen that day. I am always sent pictures of the egg hunts and activities.

We may not be in the same location, but in our hearts we are celebrating together.

Happy Easter. Happy Resurrection Day.

amtolle

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