Category Archives: memories

Traditional Christmas

Not gonna lie, interwebs. I really love the Christmas season.

When I was single, I was really bitter about Christmas, and that had a lot to do with my own happiness in relationships. The first Christmas I truly enjoyed as an adult was the one where I took Captain Laser Pants to meet my family. That was the weekend I knew I wanted to marry him. Since then, the holiday has become more joyful than I could expect (with a little family stress here and there- the act of traveling is such a pain!), largely because I have two incredible loves in my life with whom I can share the season. Decorating for Christmas is a spiritual gift in my family (you should see my mom’s tree and my sisters’ trees!), and I have to confess that I take part in it. Pictures don’t do my tree justice. This year it’s a six foot- wide, over eight foot- tall Fraser fir (real, of course), and because it’s smaller than last year’s tree, is now dripping with ornaments. The collection of German blown glass ornaments (the ones that inspire thoughts of Christmases from 75 years ago) is ever growing. We have everything from robots and hot dogs to more traditional balls and Santa Claus-esque ornaments. I love it.

After fussing with the tree for days (it has over 1200 lights on it, for crying out loud), I felt like I had to start a hundred other holiday projects. Neighbor gifts (we like our neighbors a lot), Christmas cookie baking and decorating, planning gifts, making memories- but it felt forced. “Now we must read Night Before Christmas and sit in front of the fireplace and drink hot chocolate and sing carols!” As if one can force the making of precious Christmas memories. Silly me.

Team Gwinn has some traditions that we’ve put in place for our own little family, including watching Elf and buying new family ornaments with a theme every year (the first year was robots, the second was dinosaurs, and this year was a family of foxes [four were included!]). My own family is steeped in tradition. Every year we all get together at my parents’ house for Christmas Eve, read the Christmas story from the Bible, open presents, and eat some of the redonkulously good cookies my sister and mom make. They’ve always had an upstairs tree (think pastels with Victorian ornaments) and a downstairs tree (colored lights, ornaments the siblings made over the years as kids), lights on the hedges outside their house, and candles in the windows. Regardless of what we were given, even when times were tight, some of my happiest memories from growing up are wrapped in Christmas.

Needless to say, I’m pretty darn traditional when it comes to this particular holiday. I love going to carol sings and candlelight services at churches, hearing choirs, and sipping eggnog by a fire.More importantly, though, is the tradition surrounding the core family. I’m really protective of Christmas morning with my husband and child. Unless there’s a fire or flood, I always go to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. Call me crazy, but I feel like traditions are part of the glue of a family. And when you finally have your own, it’s even more important to have traditions that are yours (largely so if you grew up without a core family or traditions) to pass on to your children.

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Even though he was too small last year to help, one of the traditions we’re working on building in Team Gwinn is having mini Gwinn assist with the tree decorating. Letting him choose from the shatterproof (read: plastic and stuffed) ornaments and then asking him where they should go- totally precious. Yes, there may be seventeen ornaments on one branch, but that’s his branch that he decorated. And hearing him yell “twee! Wights!” when he wakes up and runs to the tree? Heart melting. This is his last year as the only little one in the home, so I want to make memories (saved with pictures, cause I doubt he’ll retain them from this age) with him at the center. He wants to try making cookie dough? Go for it. Stringing lights on the tree? You betcha. He really enjoys looking at the Christmas lights, which means a few night excursions to see what the neighbors have in their yards. Maybe a ‘hood tour with some eggnog and Christmas carols playing in the car will be another Gwinn tradition. Who knows.

What do you and your family/families do for the holidays? I would love to hear about your traditions!


High School, Shmigh Shmool

So, in a conversation with a high school friend with whom I’ve recently reconnected (her blog is here), she brought up that our ten year reunion is next summer.

I, in no way, wanted to think about this fact. Shall I list the reasons for you? Well, tough nuggets. I’m doing it anyway.

Reason Number One: I do not like to think that I have been out of high school for ten years. It makes me feel old.

Reason Number Two: There is no single thing I have detested more than high school. I have never in my life loathed something for as long and as vehemently as I have loathed high school.

Reason Number Three: Did you see number two (hehehe, “number two”)?! Do I even need a reason number three?

In case you haven’t picked up on it, I hated high school. It was torturous. I was fat (yes, FAT), I was (am) weird, and I had a limited pool of friends (whom I loved). The people I liked in high school with whom I wanted to stay in touch – you guessed it reader, we still talk. The teachers I liked are friends with me on Facebook. I don’t feel as though I’d be missing much of anything if I went to the ten year reunion.

This conversation started my wheels a’ turning (surprise!). Did you ever see Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion? It is a very funny 90s movie about two women, each 28, who go back to their home town to attend their high school reunion and proceed to lie about the lives they’ve lived for the past ten years. They run into the popular girls, who (almost) all still live in the same town, married men from the same town, and are all still friends. The two protagonists embarrass themselves initially, but then end up rocking out and looking awesome by the end of the movie. They showed up to prove they weren’t still losers, and they end up running their own fashion store by the time the credits are rolling.

Fabulous fashion, humor and a major flashback to 1997. I wasn’t in high school for this movie, for the record.

Neato, right?

In high school I had a few boyfriends (some long term, some short). They were all cute/ talented/ smart- but each of them had one thing in common- quirkiness. When I wasn’t dating someone, the guy I had a crush on was a jock (say what?!). A square jawed, meat head jock. When I heard him talk, it was more like a basset hound “woofing” in a major Southern drawl rather than it was a person formulating words. Totally not my “type” (it’s laughable now, actually). And, since I wasn’t top tier or petite, I’m pretty sure he didn’t even know my name. We only had one class together (it wasn’t like this guy was in the honors classes), but for some reason, I clung to the crush until I was a senior (and I was above high school completely by then).

I don’t want to feel like I have something to prove to the people that made me feel like crap in high school. Yes, everyone had someone that did this to them in high school. If you didn’t, then, congratulations, either you didn’t attend high school, or you were at the top of the food chain. Yay for you. Realistically, I was somewhere towards the lower- middle of the ladder in high school. I skipped my senior prom to go to the comic book store to play cards (and I don’t mean Texas Hold ‘Em). I wore Lisa Loeb style glasses and listened to 90s indie music (a hipster before I knew what a hipster was, apparently). I was certainly not Miss High School- not prom queen, not homecoming queen, not a cheerleader, not a valedictorian- most of the time I didn’t even show up. “Bethany who? Oh, that quiet/ weird choir chick?”

If my attendance in high school was so iffy, why would I attend my reunion?

Ok, a small (and I mean infinitesimal) part of me wants to go. Just so I can wear a really revealing outfit (look at my abs, hookers! Daaaaang!), show up in my fancy car (oh, yeah, that’s right, we’re watching Avatar in the backseat! Daaaang!), introduce everyone to my husband (he’s so hot and clever and he’s not from here! Shablam!), show off some pictures of my kid (daaaaang he’s cute!), talk briefly about the fun career I had before becoming a stay at home mom (say what? Killer job but you left it all to raise a human? Daaaang!), and then drive away (awww snap, she doesn’t live in hickville anymore? Daaaaang!).

Yes, I realize that entire paragraph is significantly more petty than almost anything I’ve ever said in my entire life (and I imagine people still saying “daaaaang”). But the people that ridicule you in high school (to some extent) leave imprints on your view of yourself and the world, at least until you’re adult enough to form your own ideas. I will never forget the day that two boys in my English class called me fat. Even though now one’s a drunk and one’s unemployed (I kind of win on all fronts here), there is still some part of me that wants to rub in their face that as an adult, I am WAY ahead of them. I may have been a loser in high school, but that’s not what really matters, ninjas. I’m awesome now.

My mature side takes over (and I’m sure your mature side has been judging me this entire blog) and reminds my petty little brain of the point I just made- I’m awesome now. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. I’ve traveled, lived in other parts of the country, had a great job, met my amazing husband, and now live a beautiful, blessed life. It’s quite absurd to compare my life with anyone else’s. If anything, I should hope they have the same level of happiness and fulfillment that I have. I don’t live in high school land anymore (I just have nightmares about it, thankyouverymuch).

So, next summer when ticket sales to the grody, moldy Tennessee River Boat 2012 Reunion blah blah blah go on sale, I will most definitely not be purchasing a pair. Instead, I’ll put on some tunes from senior year (my tunes, not the top 40. Hello Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins!) and dance in the living room with my two favorite dudes. We’ll eat a delicious homemade meal, laugh at the funny things our dogs do, and celebrate the life we’ve created for ourselves.

High school, shmigh shmool.  Adulthood (not O’Doyle) rules.