People have asked, “How will you manage holidays with your family in a tiny house?” The question is easily answered as our holiday traditions have already begun to take on a new life. I grew up in a family where you knew how the holidays would behave. Easter brought colorful Easter baskets, egg hunts, honey baked ham and church. Halloween was costumes, carved pumpkins and hot spiced wine for the adults hauling kids door to door (those were the days!) Thanksgiving was all about grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gathering for the traditional over consumption of turkey, potatoes and pie.
Christmas was my mother’s favorite. She loved decorating the house, the tree and hanging stockings. She made food gifts for friends, neighbors and co-workers. We had a family photo taken every year and stacks of handwritten holiday greetings would flood the mail. This holiday was made for shoppers and my mother did her part supporting the economy. Christmas Eve commenced with a noisy gathering of family, many of them who we only saw once a year. There was always food and we congregated around the piano to sing off key carols. The morning dawned with full stockings, the comforting smell of cinnamon rolls and eggs fantastic filling the house while we settled in around the tree to open gifts. The unwrapping of gifts would end with a family photo in our PJ’s holding our new loot, and a trip to church. The house would be cleaned and more food prepared for a family of close friends who would spend the evening with us. Husbands and grandchildren were added to the mix and the cycle repeated itself year after year.
Change is inevitable and forces the traditions to change as well. In her early 50’s my mother lost the hard fight against breast cancer. Cancer continues to be a contributing factor in the Trek to Tiny and will have an appropriate moment in time to be addressed. My mother’s death was the first major life event that disrupted everything. Nothing would be the same going forward, a new way of celebrating family and holidays was forced upon us.
Time does it’s thing and marches on. My dad remarried, my family made less frequent trips from Idaho to Colorado and my sister’s family took over much of the holiday duties with the extended family. I worked hard when my kids were small to create our family traditions, some of which were carryovers from my own childhood. The accumulation of stuff at Christmas was becoming a silent battle way back when the kids were little. We went without a constant glowing TV for 12 years, so my young kids were not bombarded with marketing regarding the latest/greatest thing they had to have, but they were still kids who loved toys and clothes and art supplies and Legos. I do remember the year my daughter asked for a ream of paper and her own roll of duct tape…a home schooled kid at her finest!
I started to realize early on in my parenting that I didn’t love everything about the holiday season, especially Christmas. It felt way too busy, the bank account took a hit, and the majority of the work to make it all happen fell upon me. The day the tree and decorations came down and the house was put back into order brought feelings of relief. You might be wondering where the “reason for the season” is in this scenario and just like Cancer, Jesus deserves his own spotlight in this blog.
The holidays look much different now.
A couple of years ago I asked my kids how they felt about a Christmas tree, and the surprise was NO ONE CARED if we had a tree or not. Honestly, that was music to my ears as putting up the tree sent me into a bad mood as I wrestled with lights and taking it down usually required an extra glass of wine. The last couple of years I’ve hung a string of lights on a potted Norfolk Pine, displayed some of the favorite ornaments and everyone is OK. Last year I watched a new neighbor haul out an alarming number of storage bins and erect every inflatable, spinning, lighted yard ornament ever created. It was amusing to watch and looked like my own personal worst nightmare.
I gave away all of our Halloween fodder at a garage sale last summer and much of the accumulated Christmas decorations are the next to go, except for the extra special items that have sentimental significance….although writing that I wonder. “Where will I store those?” I am closing in on that day when my kids will not be coming home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I will already be missing one of them this year.
So back to the question, “How will you manage holidays with your family in a tiny house?” I hope my children intrinsically know that just because I am drastically pairing down our things doesn’t change the fact that they are always welcome in my home, no matter what the square footage. That the sharing of meals, and celebrations, and family time will continue. I also don’t discount the reality that I will be able to travel to them and with them, and we will find new ways of making life meaningful not just on holidays but everyday.
I will relieve the people who love me with the task of finding the perfect gift as there won’t be anywhere to put it. Let’s strive for shared experiences and time together. They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant to be meaningful. A meal, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, sitting in a park, taking a hike, a great night of music or a fire in a beautiful campground are all experiences that will create memories that last much longer than the new sweater. I promise to be mindful of the gifts I give so that I am not covertly contributing to others overflowing closets which eventually have to be cleaned out as well. Don’t be afraid to tell me, “I don’t need anything.” I totally get it.
Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year, and a stress free season.
Trek in peace.