Getting Ready for the Holidays

Christmas preparations with different festive decor on a wooden table. Image from

Our Tuesday Fox asked, “How does/did your family countdown to Christmas? Did/do you have any special family traditions?” [AS]

This topic had me scratching my head. My family enjoys celebrating holidays together, but we honestly don’t prepare for them together. My daughters have followed in my footsteps of having full calendars, so it’s impossible to plan things to happen on a yearly basis. Sometimes it’s difficult enough to agree on a date to get together at all! 

I really don’t remember any special holiday traditions we had growing up, other than putting up a Christmas tree, exchanging gifts with my nuclear family, and participating in holiday celebrations at school and at church. As I’ve mentioned before, I had no extended family here in America. We have two cousins who are American citizens, but they grew up on an army base in Okinawa and we communicated through audio tapes and letters. So our celebrations were quiet because we celebrated on our own. Since our relatives were so far away, we had to plan ahead and purchase, wrap, and ship our gifts in November so that they would arrive at their destinations on time (this was back in the days when shipping packages via air mail was an extravagance we weren’t able to afford).

Later on, when I had my own household, I worked full time, so the holidays were hectic, especially since my music activities meant directing and performing in concerts as well as teaching every day. Seeing that the kids and I were in the right places at the right times was about all I could handle. Putting up a tree, buying and wrapping gifts, and mailing out cards are all things we did, but they were often done at the last minute, or when I managed to squeeze them in between other obligations, and never done as a family. There were a few years I made Christmas outfits for my daughters, but not consistently enough to call it a tradition.

Even now,  after retiring from full-time teaching, I’ve always got at least two concerts in December. I’ve usually got final exams to grade and semester grades to submit before a deadline. So I still tend to put off a lot of the traditional holiday prep until I make time to do them. Since I don’t work full time now and my kids (and seven of my nine grandkids) are adults, I have more time to do things, which is really nice. But I’m still at a loss when it comes to traditions unique to my family. 

Most of the things I do yearly, such as filling the stockings for the grandkids and making and sending out Christmas cards, are things I do on my own. But I guess the main family tradition is that we always find a time to celebrate together, even when we had to join in through FaceTime or Zoom. And to me, that’s more important than the decorations, the treats, and all the other things leading up to the holiday.


About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page:
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9 Responses to Getting Ready for the Holidays

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    As a grown-up I’ve found these final 6-8 weeks of each year to be quite stressful. It seems like so many activities, events, commitments, etc., are crammed into this that I truly dread the protracted end of each year.
    And it saddens me to state such.
    More, perhaps, on this issue on Hound Day.
    As for YOUR holiday traditions — I continue to be amazed at how much you get done, how well organized you are, and how you manage (or seem to manage) to keep your head on straight while doing it all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Thanks, Jeff. I haven’t gotten to the point where I dread the end-of-year stuff, but I can understand why some do, and yes, it’s sad. It’s hard to celebrate when you’re not looking forward to it. As for getting things done, my to-do list is always at the ready!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Diane Burton says:

    You do get a lot done! In the past few years, I’ve cut back on decorating. The grandkids help put up my nutcrackers and the tree. For the last 2 years, I haven’t put ornaments on the tree. It’s lovely with just the white lights. Some things I used to do have fallen by the wayside. Lack of energy, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      Lack of energy is definitely a factor, Diane! I guess that’s what retirement is for. I got rid of my tree this year, so unless I get something smaller, my ornaments will stay in the box this Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You made me realize how things have changed in my own life over the decades and with different generations.I will really have to give this some thought.


    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      It’s interesting how our perspectives change as our responsibilities shift, isn’t it? I always felt guilty about not having the time and energy to do more things together with my kids because of my work and music-making, but they’ve all assured me that they don’t feel slighted.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You did plenty! Your kids and family were happy, so SUCCESS!
        No one can say what works for one person or family and what works for another. In fact, I knocked myself out, and wonder if I did it right.


  4. Getting together with your family is the most important part of the Christmas season. It’s great that you all manage to find a way to get together even if it can’t be in person.


  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    Having family around you is one of the best parts of Christmas. Most of my family except for my two boys and their families have passed on. I’d love to get together with them all just one more time.


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