Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Burning lanterns

We are leaving for Europe in just over a month. (I've mentioned that trip before, right? I know I said somewhere on the blog that we are going to Germany, France, and England over Christmas, but at the moment I can't find the post. Though while I was looking I did find this post, and oh my. I hadn't thought about that insane trip and those insane high school rumors in so long. What a disaster.)

Anyway. A month! In that time before we leave I need to: finish my current graduate class (nutrition) even though it feels like it's only just started; complete several rather massive work projects; host Thanksgiving (though this sounds scarier than it really is since it's just my parents coming, not, like, a gaggle of extended family or anything); finish holiday shopping and send holiday cards; and then generally, like, see my husband and kid occasionally and I don't know, breathe? Oh and also pack. I've been keeping a running packing list on my phone and trying to figure out what to do about car seats and strollers and airplanes and tiny European cars that may or may not have the LATCH system and also what are we going to bring to the people we're staying with as host/Christmas gifts? Though maybe that last part just falls under the general umbrella of holiday shopping.

Also this week we are doing a (slightly belated) St. Martin's Day lantern walk, for which according to Torsten we must make our own lantern or else Callum will be traumatized for life by his deprived childhood, and that's on Friday and I'm sure it will be lovely except that we haven't made a lantern yet nor does Torsten even know how to make said lantern and he keeps saying he'll look it up but he hasn't looked it up yet and instead he just keeps talking about how the German fire department says that St. Martin's Day is their busiest day of the year because so many children's lanterns burst into flames, which is making me sliiiiightly less enthusiastic about the idea of making our own lantern but apparently having your lantern light on fire is just a rite of passage for German children and not something to be concerned about, and this is coming from my incredibly risk-averse husband so I guess I won't worry about it except that then I come full circle back to the part where we don't have a lantern or any idea of how we are going to make a lantern, whether said lantern ends up spontaneously combusting or not.

Also it's looking like we're going to have three Christmases this year. Plus Chanukah. Because we'll be in Germany over Christmas, and my parents are coming for Thanksgiving (they arrive in three days! Because Thanksgiving is really soon!) and then again for Callum's birthday in January, we will not be seeing my parents in December at all, so we are going to celebrate Christmas with them, uh, next week when they're here. So, you know, that's fine. It's good, actually. It was my idea. I am generally opposed to doing anything at all Christmassy before Thanksgiving ends, but since we are leaving the country before Christmas anyway, we might as well get our tree a little early this year so we can enjoy it, and then it will actually feel kind of like Christmas here when we celebrate with my parents, and I've finished shopping for them anyway so that's all set. And then of course we'll celebrate Christmas on the day of (well I guess really we'll celebrate it the day before what I, as an uncultured American, would consider to be Christmas since in Germany you celebrate on December 24, but whatever, that's not important) in Germany with Torsten's family. So that will be great.

But that leaves the question of when we do our own little Christmas, with Callum. Luckily he's young enough that we can be flexible on this and he won't notice if his stocking randomly fills up in early December, way before Santa's traditional travel time of Christmas Eve. We will bring maybe a couple little gifts for him with us to Germany, but not much because we don't have a lot of spare luggage space and he'll certainly be spoiled by Torsten's parents anyway and not need extra gifts. Same goes for my parents; no need for us to do our own Christmas when they are here because they will be lavishing Callum with gifts and there's no need for us to just pile on.

But we do want to do Christmas with our child, at least a little bit, with the stocking and all that, though I don't think we'll be giving him many gifts because, well, like I said he's very young and so when we buy him toys that he would like we tend to just give them to him immediately because he's too young for us to worry about spoiling and frankly, for example, his train table? That was going to be a Christmas gift but he is obsessed with that thing and it is such a lifesaver to have it right in the family room (which opens into the kitchen) while I'm cooking dinner on days when Torsten is still working because it distracts him and keeps him away from the hot stove and I am so grateful that we didn't keep it in a closet for two months for no real reason because he doesn't know the difference anyway. Also see above re: grandparents spoiling him as another reason why we aren't going to ply him with a ton of gifts this year.

But we are going to do something, and after some back-and-forth I think we've concluded that we're going to do it on St. Nicholas Day, even though that totally violates the childhood tradition of St. Nicholas Day which is German, and they don't even do stockings in Germany, and also distinct from Christmas and involves shoes and fruit and and and.

Anyway, dammit, we are going to take these days and bastardize them for our own purposes and meld German and American traditions together and this kid WILL celebrate St. Martin's AND St. Nicholas AND Chanukah AND Christmas and he will do it in German AND English and it will involve all the traditional staples of Christmas from both countries, including stockings, Santa, shoes, and grandparental spoiling, and yes we are shamelessly taking advantage of the fact that he's too little to know better and may we do better next year. And/or may he grow up thinking that a family melding/bastardization of holiday traditions is really the right and ONLY way of doing things. And if he does grow up thinking that then so help his future partner who may have totally separate ideas of how the holidays should be celebrated. But hey, not my problem, right? At least not yet and at the moment I am only going to concern myself with immediate problems. It's just better that way.

Unless of course his as-yet-unmade lantern bursts into flames on Friday and causes much more immediate problems, in which case presumably the rest of this will cease to seem important. But let's hope that doesn't happen.

13 comments:

LizScott said...

I firmly believe it is your right as a parent to screw up your kids in whatever way you need to in order to make your life more convenient, consequences be damned.

I support your three Christmasses, is what I'm saying.

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

I don't think you're bastardizing anything. It's called looking at your own cultures and developing your own family traditions. There's nothing wrong with that! Just like there's nothing wrong with hanging the Star of David, a menorah and a dreidel ornament on a Christmas tree. Yes, that will be done in our house! =)

Chris said...

Phew! I need a nap just for reading that. Good luck! Callum will have a great time no matter what you do. Unless the lantern does burst into flames, probably. :)

d e v a n said...

Hey, he'll just be well rounded in the winter holidays and there's nothing wrong with that!

Alice said...

Oh my gosh, we used to do Lantern Walks for St. Martin's Day at Waldorf (farm school) when I was little! We made lanterns out of papier mache: we'd blow up a balloon & coat like 3/4 of it with papier mache, let it dry overnight, then pop the balloon. OH! just like this actually: http://www.1708gallery.org/inlight/pdfs/Balloon%20Lantern%20Instructions.pdf

(although we just used multi-colored tissue paper rather than being so purposeful with a design). Oddly we never had a lantern light on fire (that i know of) which is good, because we'd take them walking through a dry field and into the woods. at night. ahhhh waldorf..

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