Another holiday has come and gone, leaving behind memories and photos (and a lot of leftovers). And while I should be happy for the things my family has, I can’t help but to feel a bit sad. I feel sad this Monday after Easter, as I feel after every holiday, birthday, and special occasion, for my children.
I guess I would classify my childhood as dysfunctional, although I got through it just fine. I only classify it as that because I watched my mom go through 3 divorces. My dad lived out of state and so I didn’t get to spend holidays with him to often, except maybe once or twice. After my mother’s second divorce in 1987 we moved to Elyria from Columbus.
Here in Elyria, we were alone. My mom has one brother and one sister. They have always lived out of state and neither of them have children. My mom’s parents have always lived out of state so we never saw them that often. But, in Columbus we had my 1st stepdad’s (my sister and brother’s dad) father. He always treated me as a grandkid; even if I wasn’t related to him by blood (I even called him Grandpa Bill). His wife had a huge family. And they always had get-togethers on the holidays.
I remember kids, adults, food, music, and chaos everywhere! But it was fun and comforting. On Easter, dressed in our pretty dresses and suits, we had huge egg hunts in the backyard followed by a dinner with an adult table and kid table. On Thanksgiving we put 2 trees up and after dinner we had a drawing for the Christmas gift exchange. On Christmas we would watch the snow falling from the back window as we exchanged gifts. On the Fourth of July we would walk a few blocks to watch a parade and come back home to an all-day picnic and that night we would sit in the backyard on blankets to watch the fireworks.
When we moved to Elyria, the trips to Columbus got fewer and fewer, and eventually stopped all together when Grandpa Bill passed away in 1997. My mom, for whatever reason, didn’t have any holiday traditions. My grandparents never visited on the holidays, there were no cousins to play with, and really nothing special going on. Sure we celebrated the holidays, but usually just by having dinner where my mom and 2nd stepdad ate in the living room while my sister, brother, and myself sat at the kitchen table to eat.
As a kid, I thought it was the activities and traditions I missed. So when I got married and my husband and I had our first child, I decided that I would create traditions for us that will be carried on for years. Every holiday and birthday is a “big deal.” On Christmas my kids each get a special ornament that is stamped with the year of that Christmas. We have a Christmas omelet for breakfast and a big ham dinner complete with side-dishes that have become a “tradition.” (These are dishes that I have gotten from sources like Food Network that my husband and I love so I make them each year). Thanksgiving, the kids and I watch the Macy’s Day Parade while my husband is playing in his annual football game. When he gets home we have a huge turkey dinner with our “traditional” side-dishes. Easter weekend we color eggs and hide them so the kids can find them. On Easter morning the kids find their baskets and then it’s a battle trying to keep them out of the candy so they don’t mess up their church clothes. Then after church we come home and have a huge ham dinner with our “traditional” side-dishes.
Each holiday, after dinner is done and I am packing up all the leftovers, I ask myself why I cook so much food. I know every holiday as I am planning my grocery list that it will just be my husband, my kids, myself, and occasionally my sister. My dad lives out of state so him, my step-mom, and my 2 half-sisters do their own get-togethers with my aunts, uncles, and cousins who all live close by. My mom lives nearby in Lorain but her and my brother live a lifestyle that I don’t want around my children and as a result we have grown very distant and only manage to talk once in awhile. My mother-in-law passed away recently. My husband’s dad and step-mom are here along with his sisters and brother, but for whatever reason we never really get together with them either.
This morning as I was organizing the Easter gifts, I realized it was not the traditions and activities I missed most about the few holidays I celebrated at Grandpa Bill’s house. It is the family, the people, I miss. I miss having to park 5-6 houses away because the driveway and street are full of cars because there are so many relatives already there. I miss running around with cousins my age as we show-off the favorite toy we got. I miss the commotion and chaos. I miss the kids-table. I cook so much food every holiday because I remember and long for the family time. And I am sad that my kids haven’t gotten to experience this on the holidays.
Kendra lives in Elyria, Ohio with her wonderful husband, two children, and a dog that doesn’t get as much attention as it got before the kids arrived. She has a Bachelor’s in English from Bowling Green State University. In her spare time, when she gets it, she loves to read and scrapbook.