Making Memories: Christmas EditionBy Beth Walker
One of the sayings our family has picked up from my coach husband’s college football teams is “making memories.” The teams use this phrase when great things happen, like an overtime win, but more often they use it when something hard happens.
My husband, Ordell, usually smiles when he categorizes a less-than-great event in our personal lives as a “memory.” Highlights include the time our puppy threw up on me in the car with an hour left to drive; the time we flew home from Colorado with a six-month-old and two-year-old who threw up and dry heaved the entire flight, respectively; and the time we were replacing our roof with the help of the football staff and one guy moved a ladder while another guy was still standing on it. Thankfully no one was permanently injured in any of these memories!
Growing up, my Christmas memories were consistently joy-filled because of my extended family. My grandfather was one of five brothers, and we all gathered on Christmas Eve. But as my cousins and I got married one by one, we all moved away from the Chicagoland area and holiday times no longer included large family gatherings.
Since this shift, I’ve struggled to create consistent Christmas memories for our sons. The only consistent thing about their holidays in the eleven years since Elijah was born is the lack of consistency. My guilt about that is increased by the images on Pinterest and social media, which seem to mock our less-than-picture-perfect holidays. I haven’t even put up a tree the past few years because we’ve been away from home for an extended time.
Recently I asked our boys what their favorite Christmas memories are, and I was a little surprised by the ones they chose. For instance, our holiday has always included a drive to their grandparents’, and for the past three years, since it’s been a ten-to-twelve-hour drive one way, we’ve made a stop en route. Elijah said one of his favorite memories is when we stopped to visit friends and ate fried pickles, followed by a trip to a Dave & Busters arcade the next day. What he didn’t remember is that we were supposed to play at an indoor water park instead of going to D & B, but it was closed.
Levi mentioned going to see a production of A Christmas Carol with my parents. I added my memories of watching Ordell pack the car for our trip home each year. It’s always amazing to me how, regardless of how much we have to bring back between the Trader Joe’s stock-up and Christmas gifts, he always makes it fit! Elijah reminded me that last year he and his brother both rode all the way home with bags under their feet and stacked between them. But they didn’t mind—and they appreciated the Tim Hortons bakery donuts we picked up as a reward for their great travel attitudes!
As we laughed and chatted, I realized our crazy life—especially at Christmas—is a constant memory in the making. Regardless of long miles, closed attractions, or crowded conditions in our car, our boys have been given lasting Christmas memories of time with their grandparents and parents, and they already treasure them. It doesn’t bother them that the holiday looks different every year, and it no longer bothers me.