Tis the Season

It’s that time of year.  Thanksgiving is next week and Christmas follows close behind.  I have warm, wonderful memories of the holidays from my early childhood. Memories scented with the smell of roast turkey, nutmeg, gingerbread and pine.  Good friends gathered around our tables, laughter, camaraderie, pie and Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.  The sounds of Christmas carols and the silence of an early country morning after a new snowfall.  Baking and decorating and shopping and wrapping.  Cold toes and nose as we trekked into the forest to chose and cut down the perfect tree.  And the cozy night before Christmas as we snuggled together in front of the fire, stockings hanging from the mantel, listening as our parents read aloud the story of the Christ Child’s birth. 

I’ve tried to create similarly ideal holiday memories for my children over the past decade.  Regretably, this year will be a departure, although hopefully not a precedent.  We are, of course, so lucky in so many ways.  We are not living in a tent, or sleeping in our car or on the street as are so many homeless families.  We are together not split apart or separated.  We have heat and food and a roof over our heads.  I see what could be; the children think about what was and what their classmates have and it’s harder for them. 

Although grateful for what we have, the coming holidays depress me. We have so many more constraints now.  Picture your own holiday plans- decorating, baking, entertaining, and now imagine carrying them out in a space about 9×20 feet.  The children worry about Christmas.  They point out to me that there is no chimney, no mantel, no place to hang stockings.  No room for a tree.  No baking cookes (our oven doesn’t work). And although they don’t say it, they know there’s no money for Christmas either.  Frankly it’s not like we have much room for ‘stuff’ – my Christmas list would have 2 things on it- a job and a bigger trailer.  In some ways the kids’ more extravagant lists are more realistic!  And since they are children, they maintain some hope- they still believe in Santa and so confer with each other as to possible locations for stockings to be hung- on the shower rod? Outside the trailer?  Perhaps we could rig a clothesline and hang the stocking there?  I agree to all suggestions no matter how outlandish, willing a Christmas miracle to occur.

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3 Responses to Tis the Season

  1. Sheri M says:

    Hmmm… I’ve yet to see an RV park that didn’t allow silly lights, tiki lights, and other decorations year ’round; hopefully yours is the same. My SIL hangs chili pepper lights around their awning everywhere they go; my parents hang seasonal lights on theirs. Our family doesn’t have an RV, but we like to gather (free) greens from pine trees along a quiet roadside and use twine and wire to make natural wreaths and garland. We go on nature walks and collect pine cones, seed pods, Queen Anne’s lace umbrellas, etc. and use these found objects to decorate the garland. The dollar store has small colored unbreakable ornaments that finish off the garland (kids have to have color!!), and we use it to decorate our bedroom doors and windows. Small wreaths hanging in windows and even on the front of our car are so festive… And paper chains, especially small skinny ones, are so much fun to make, and lightweight to hang – you could put paper chains all the way down the center of the RV, taped to the ceiling, with dangling paper snowflakes (use dental tape to hang these; or if using thread, tape around the hole, or it will pull thru).

    One year in Hawaii we had a Christmas bush made from leftover, cut-off Christmas tree bases we got for free behind the Christmas tree stand – because the imported trees were just too expensive. We stacked the pieces up on the deck, tied it all together, added lights, and decorated it with bird seed and peanut butter stuck on twists of coconut fiber, etc. Another year in Palmdale we stacked up and tied together tumbleweeds to make a Christmas tumbleweed tree around our lamppost – too cute!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can you let an agency know that you are a family in need of “Toys for Tots” or other Giving programs this season? What about the kids placing their shoes out for Santa (like the old St. Nick version) to fill, rather than stockings? Hopefully, this will be the only year you have to abandon some (most?) of your old traditions, but in the meantime, you can create some new ones. A box of Swiss Miss cocoa is under two bucks but still makes a sweet drink you and the kids can share while playing Christmas music and making a 3 foot paper tree, covered with cute paper ornaments of angels, santas, snowmen, glitter to be taped to your wall. Red and green construction paper chains, snow flakes from doilies, etc can decorate your abode since paper, glue, and tape is cheap and the decorations, being 2-D, won’t take up much space. String popcorn and cranberries for garlands which can hang from one side of the trailer to the other. You do such a good job of making lemonade out of lemons; I guess this is just another opportunity for that. But don’t be afraid to reach out to some agencies and ask for help in getting gifts for the kids. Can their school be a resource for finding out what is available? Very best wishes for that miracle you are hoping for!

    • Excellent ideas! I guess I’ve been too focused on what we’ve lost and reminiscing sadly about ideal childhood holidays. Well, who doesn’t want their children to have wonderful holidays? We don’t have any wall space for a paper tree- all covered with cupboards and windows and doors but I’m sure we can come up with some small and inexpensive decorations. Actually, come to think of it we could put a small paper tree on the bathroom door! I wonder if the park would allow us to string Christmas lights.

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