That Elusive Christmas Spirit

We are currently on the other side of the country celebrating the holidays with family. It has been difficult to find the head space and time to write a blog post. We’ve been fed and stuffed and enjoying candy. Dinners have been everywhere else and always with dessert. Socializing has been abundant and everything in plenty.

Having some down-time seemed only prudent.

It is a blessing and a curse that Mr. Frugasaurus and myself both have the majority of our family in the same, small town or surrounding area. Unlike some of our friends who go to different corners of the country every year, we can always visit most of our family every year.

Of course, that also means we are expected to visit most of our family every year. An exercise which can get a little intense over the week-and-a-half we are visiting. It’s a great time, and we enjoy the break from the ordinary. But what about that elusive Christmas spirit everyone is supposed to feel at this time of year, like some warm, fluffy cocoa cream topping?

A Grinch to be?

Despite having similar socioeconomic status, Mr. Frugasaurus and my own family have some distinct differences. One of the most noticeable around this time of the year is that Mr. Frugasaurus family still have many young teens and have quite an emphasis on gift giving.

In my family, on the other hand, there are no teens at the moment, and only a few children too small to understand too much of what is going on. We are mostly adults who enjoy the dinner, conversation and time together more than the unwrapping of gifts. As such, our gifting has leveled off and gone down, with close family only receiving mostly small, symbolic gifts and donations.

I should probably do like my brother, and just ask for no presents to be exchanged, as opposed to asking for charitable donations, as I do now.

We have a good time with family every year, but I must admit, that elusive Christmas spirit is something I have missed for several years. Is it just that I am an unsociable grinch-to-be who rather knits and sews instead of following the throng of consumers into over-filled malls for planet-destroying tokens of affection?

I like to think not.

But I have been thinking recently, that maybe it is because we are always visiting? Always traveling to family, since so many of them are so close together?

Dreaming of a Christmas at home

This year, since we bought the house, Mr. Frugasaurus and me have started talking more sincerely about celebrating the holidays at home. Especially now that we can accommodate visiting family members in their own room.

I like to think that I would find a bigger Christmas spirit if we did. If I knew I was staying in my own home, maybe I would be more inclined to decorate our home and bake more Christmas goodies? If I knew I was staying in the comfort of my own home, entertaining rather than being entertained?

It is a thought that is starting to grow roots in my mind, and I must say I like the shape of it.

Taking part

Our hosts are gracious and generous of course, and their home is subtly decorated with baubles, nisser, snowmen and a small tree.

But it is not my house. They are not my decorations. And though I appreciate the intrinsic hygge in it, I had no hand in the process.

So for the readers who have experienced both traveling far away for the holidays and hosting your own self, how was it? Did you find more Christmas spirit when you contributed more of the work involved? Do you have things like Christmas curtains and tablecloths?

What are your best tips for finding a good Christmas spirit? Snuggling up with a good book and a crackling fire? Burning Christmas incense to fill the house with warmth? Baking Christmas cookies with younger family members?

To me, the Christmas spirit is certainly not related to gifts and gift giving. I must admit, a big part of me wishes we would dispose of the obligation towards gift giving in general. It produces so much waste and leads to so much economic insecurity.

Surely that can’t be what Christmas was supposed to be all about?

For now, I will settle for snuggling down with a cup of mulled tea and The Hogfather on DVD. Perhaps I need more candles?

7 Comments on “That Elusive Christmas Spirit

  1. Hi Kristine, I’m glad you enjoyed your Christmas. We are in a similar situation in that both of our families live close by. So close to us that on Christmas Day our families just drive over for the day then drive home again. I’m happy to cook and host but as an introvert I must admit that I’m happy to regain the quiet and calm at the end of the day.

    Re gifts… truly, I feel utterly overwhelmed by the sheer influx of “stuff” that has infiltrated our home in the last few days. I know it sounds ungrateful because we are lucky to have kind and generous family members, but especially the 3 kids have been gifted a ridiculous amount of stuff that I need to try to find homes for.

    • That sounds nice. Our families live 8 hours away, so even though they live in a cluster, we cannot sleep in our own beds all through the holidays. I think that is a big part of what I miss. As a fellow introvert I would like to be able to close the door and not feel like I should be social every day.

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to be overwhelmed by stuff! It truly is reaching ridiculous proportion some places. Ditto on feeling guilty and ungrateful about it – but we already have most of what we need. At least my window for when I feel like it is ok to regift or donate a present we don’t use is getting smaller every year.

  2. More often than not, we are the ones traveling to see everyone in the holiday season because there is more of them in one area than us in ours and so I very often don’t have any Christmas spirit in the travel period. I’m just running ragged doing all the visiting and keeping my kid in line and desperately trying to keep a lid on the STUFF (and it is out of control this year). His side of the family is deeply invested in gift giving replete with wrapping paper galore which drove me to trying to make reusable fabric bags but I don’t think I’m going to be able to convert them any time soon. My side is deeply invested in giving us hand me downs (books and clothes) which I can appreciate more, and food, but it all adds up to a big pile of stress as I wonder where I’m going to put all of it.

    My Christmas or holiday spirit thus has to be kindled a few different ways: setting up our tree and a few decorations three weeks before we travel so I’m enjoying it in our home, planning our thank you cards for the family who sent thoughtful gifts to JB, and doing holiday related crafts with JB like wrapping gifts. We don’t have time to bake ourselves yet but we did holiday cookies at a playdate with JB’s friend and that was lovely.

    • I hear you. It’s just easier to do the traveling when you’re pretty much the only odd one out. And having to visit everyone in such a short time frame means Christmas is a holiday that leaves me exhausted rather than rested by the end of it! My problem with making reusable gift bags is that they don’t typically return or get reused as gift bags. So there you are, spending a fair amount of time creating bags and THEN have to make/buy a present to go into it. I love the idea, but I think I’d have to choose who to give such things to. For now, I stick with simple brown paper wrapping and string. It has a rustic look to it and is recyclable as regular paper. Unlike gift wrapping which is just useless because of the low quality, both as paper and as plastic, and it just drives me nuts! So much waste for such a short time!

      Maybe I should start getting a few more decorations as well, to get into the spirit of things. So far we have close to nothing since we always travel for the big week and it feels a little useless to, but I do think it might help get into it more. We had an autumn crafting weekend earlier this year where we decided to bake some cookies. I suppose we just need to make more mulled drinks and make an effort! 🙂

  3. Hi Kristine! You are not alone in this. Our family are in two different countries , so we visit one for Christmas and the other for New Year. I think we each are a bit more relaxed with our own parents, and for sure it is not the same as being in our own home. We are also considering hosting in future , but because of children and pets (not ours) this would be difficult for our family.

    Also: wrapping paper , argggggh yes!!!! I hear you. And excessive gift giving! In my family we do very modest gift giving , and targeted , or useful , so my mother will buy me a new jumper, I will get one book for my sister, and so on.

    I hope you can find some time alone to recharge as an introvert. If it’s not too cold a walk with Mr F could be good?

    • Wow, it sounds intense to travel from one country to another between Christmas and new Year! I hear you with the difficulty of hosting in our own home when we are the most mobile of the lot.

      A walk is a great idea! I need to talk Mr. F into a longer one later. Crazy as we are we’ve been mostly working when not visiting family. It’s a rare chance to work a little on some side projects, after all!

      • Hi Kristine!
        Well, it takes us about 8-9 hours to travel, so not that different to your travel time, only we need our passports and have to go through the airport system…

        Walks are the best when it’s sunny. I’m impressed you are using this holiday time productively for side hustles! I am mostly relaxing…

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