Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Very Valiente Holiday Season

A very Merry Christmas to my readers; I hope you had a great day and a joyful holiday season. This is my first Christmas in New York, the first one away from my family since I was living in Savannah in 2004. I've been missing my family and friends in San Antonio a lot lately, and the holiday season made the ache just a bit stronger.

I absolutely LOVE traditions, I think probably because I like repetition and steps (because I love efficiency). Since the Yankee and I became a couple, I've been thinking up all kinds of traditions we could have, for everything from birthdays to holidays. I love having inside jokes, wearing matching clothes, and having things that we "always" do. This year I tried recreating the always delicious hashbrown casserole from the Cracker Barre, in an attempt to stake out a Christmas Tradition. It's supposed to look like this:

Instead mine looked like this:

I couldn't find GF Cream of ANYTHING soup at my grocery store, so I tried to improvise by making a pot of gravy. I also couldn't find frozen hashbrowns so I shredded my own potatoes. It turned into a grey, pasty faily. Only the cheesy parts tasted good. I might try it again sometime, if I can find all of the ingredients. The Yankee suggested just keeping it simple with eggs, bacon, and pancakes. He has good ideas like that.

Growing up, we always got a visit from Santa, gifts from Mom and Dad, gifts from various extended family members. We didn't go to church on Christmas Eve, unless we were visiting someone who did. The Yankee grew up celebrating no holidays whatsoever, as his family members are Jehovah's Witnesses. When we started dating, we had many long talks about how to compromise and create our own traditions.

We settled on no Santa (or Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, or any other mythical creature- but that's another blog), one Christmas tree with religious and family-themed ornaments, and exchanging three gifts (because Jesus got three gifts). This year I confess that I broke that three gift rule- I think perhaps because I am always trying to make up for the 20+ years that the Yankee didn't celebrate anything.

We don't really have many traditions started yet. We still have plenty of time yet, and no real deadline. It's been a great day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Very Valiente Take on Church, no Christmas, no Church at Christmas time

A few confessions before we get started and then I promise only 4 paragraphs of writing.
The Yankee and I are not good at going to bed "on time" or even at a reasonable hour, even if we have something important the next day.
I love love love Christmas and I love going to church.
I get migraines, which I find to be completely BS.
The Yankee and I share a love of dry, cynical, offensive, and crude humor. We do this in the privacy of our own home 99% of the time, with occasional leaks around the edges. This may or may not be a recurring theme in future blogs.

We have not gone to church regularly since we moved to New York since 2009. We've had bursts when we went every Sunday and stretches when we didn't go at all. However, we were involved in a small group since April of 2010 and we've just joined one here. There is something about the communcal experience of eating together and having regularly scheduled human interaction that - and the Yankee put this best- really feels more like how the Corinthians did "church." For them, it was a community and a life style- not something that occurred once a week. It was certainly this way in San Antonio, and we hope that it will be here in New York.

Going to Church in December
I've had a migraine for 10 days now. The kind that gets sharp for a few hours, dulls down a bit, then feels gone- only to reemerge when I get out of bed or stand up. So we've been planning to go to church for a few weeks now and haven't- last week because of this migraine and this week because of this migraine+the Yankee is sick. My favorite time to go to church is during Christmas and Lent, because I love hearing sermons that remind me of the "uglies" of Christmas and Easter. It's so easy to remember the high points of the story, without remembering how badly a young Jewish woman would have been treated if she's been engaged, gotten pregnant, and said it was God in her womb. 

The thing is that I really WANT to go to church right now. And then my alarm goes off and I struggle with wanting to go, but not wanting to get up, get dressed, go to church, etc. And then I stand up and my head feels like a fiery knife is slicing through my brain stem and it's too easy to decide not to go. I want to go see people and hear a sermon. I've missed being actively engaged in the word of God, pondering and seeking, and learning. Even though I am terribly introverted and it takes a lot of work to talk to people, I want to meet the body of our church and recognize faces and stories. But I am in my pajamas, struggling with whether or not I really could have made it to church this morning (which started about 3 minutes ago).

Christmas and Life
So NY is in full-swing Christmas hustle and bustle. We just got our tickets to see the Rockettes, shopping is almost done, and we have a nicely-scented beast of a tree in our living room. I miss my parents so badly this time of year, as well as our Care Group in San Antonio. This group was my "people." When good things or bad things happened, when something funny happened- honestly, when life happened, we couldn't wait to share it with our Care Group. Christmas is my mother's favorite time of year and my father's favorite time to complain. He grouses about putting up lights, and then spends the day making it all perfect (he's sweet to my mom like that). My mom does an over-the-top Christmas that I just love. I miss these two groups a lot.

The End- these four sentences does not count as a paragrah.
So we're in a new group and do want to go to church, but haven't. We're in the middle of Christmas, missing our people. The Yankee is sick and I am migraining. Stay tuned for my next post; I shall be writing about how the Valiente Family does Christmas and later doing a retroactive post in which I compare and contrast how the Yankee and I behave at parties.