by Maryclaire Mayes
Do you celebrate Valentines Day? What do you do when you do, but your spouse not so much? It’s always been a conundrum for me. My parent’s had always liked to celebrate special days, birthdays, holidays and yes Valentine’s day. I remember when I was very young they went away on a ski weekend in the Poconos for Valentine’s day, we stayed home with our Aunt Ella and had special treats. My dad always got my mom flowers on special days. One time the florist misheard my dad and sent my mom flowers with a card that said “love, John”, instead of “love, Don”. My dad thought it was pretty funny and after that all the flowers came with a note, “love, John”. I think my dad was a real romantic.
My husband Dean, on the other hand not so much. My first inkling came a few months after we were married. Our first Christmas my sweet husband gave me, a pillow. He had hinted I needed a new pillow and I had told him no mine was fine. Even his mom was mad at him. Next was my birthday, no gift, no card, no special dinner with a cake like my family always had done. He might have said happy birthday, I don’t remember, but I know we did have a discussion and his explanation was his family didn’t do much to celebrate birthdays. And Valentines day, forget it, the day didn’t exist to Dean.
When two people get married they bring many expectations from their upbringing to the union. More than once I have wished Dean was a little more romantic. But in a day and age when most marriages don’t last our commitment grows stronger. We have learned over the years to work and focus on the positive. Dean has always been there working hard and providing for me and our family. He believed it was important for me to stay home with our children and I was blessed to be able to be a full time mom. And eventually he supported me in homeschooling our children. Dean is a planner and he always tried to make what ever we needed happen, and he usually succeeded. In time I was able to dial back my expectations for holidays and Dean, to my surprise, has tried to remember those special occasions that mean so much to me. Today we are headed towards celebrating 37 years of marriage.
Like most marriages, there have been times when it was hard to continue working on our marriage. But working through our struggles together and working to understand each other have made us even closer. The rewards for staying the course have been multiplied over and over again through the years. There is a comfort that comes with being with someone who knows you so well and growing older together. There is special blessing in watching your kids grow up and now grandchildren too. He has always been there for our kids when they need him. Over the years Dean has softened and even become a little more romantic. Dean loves our family and he knows how blessed we are to have them close and in our lives. I love watching him interact with our grandchildren. I am so grateful for him. Happy Valentines Day Dean!
by Maryclaire Mayes
I loved making memories for our kids and now our grand kids too. It helps give everyone a sense of family identity and feel like they belong. It also builds excitement and makes the holidays so much fun. Though once you get married you have to figure out how to compromise if you have conflicting traditions.
It took a few years but we have been able to do that without too much upset. One of my favorite memories was seeing our tree for the first time on Christmas morning. My dad got a tree on the way home from work on Christmas eve and they put it up after they came home from midnight mass and we were all fast asleep. So we never saw anything until Christmas morning and it was always so magical to see it the first time. Christmas eve my mom always read the story of Christmas from the book of Luke in the bible. Then we hung up stockings over the fireplace and went to bed. My mom also made tons of cookies with her best friend so there were plenty to share with Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
Dean’s favorite memory is helping put the tree up weeks before Christmas and seeing the growing pile of gifts under the tree as Christmas morning grew near. Dean, being a morning person ( no, really a morning person, he gets up at 3:45) there was no way he was going to put a up the tree and decorate it on Christmas eve after the kids go to bed. So I had to give up sharing that magical morning and put up our tree a week or so before Christmas. But I have noticed they are still excited Christmas morning.
I have added new traditions too, Dean and I make cookies with the grandkids and one of my favorites things I added is an advent wreath. We do it on the four Sundays before Christmas at dinner and we light a white candle on Christmas morning called the Christ candle. It helps us refocus the morning on Christ’s birth. The grand kids wanted to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus afterwards and that was pretty cool. We added a lot of other things like going to Dean’s brother’s Christmas tree farm for our trees which is always lots of fun.
Our kids and grand kids gather at our home after church on Christmas eve to have appetizers and hang up stockings which is almost too exciting. Dean’s family always had the same breakfast for Christmas, eggs, bacon and hard rolls. Our kids come to our home after they make their own Christmas memories at their home and Dean makes breakfast for everyone.
And then there is this; I have a Christmas stocking that I bought around the same time we got our dog Chia, it has a poodle on top and sings Christmas songs. Chia loved it and instead of being just a decoration it eventually got hung up with all the other stockings and got a treat for Chia in it. She watches as we hang the stockings and just can’t wait to see what she got, but she knows she must. A stocking for the dog? I wonder if I’m making memories that our grandkids will think back and think grammy was crazy?
by Dean Mayes
Our son and his wife and their little baby girl all headed down south to visit with family for Thanksgiving. Their dog, Trigger doesn’t get to go, but he did get to stay here on the farm with us. He is a good boy and loves it here even though he does miss the family. Believe it or not; this is his happy face :o)
by Maryclaire Mayes
Teach them well. Just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we really love having our grandkids come up and hang out here. Dean would tell you that we like the free labor. But anyone who tries to get work done with 4 kids, between the ages of 2 and 6 would tell you it is more work to have them “help” then if you did it yourself. But we just enjoy having them around.
I saw something recently that reinforced what we did with our kids, and now teach our grandkids too. What am I talking about? Getting kids involved in work, creative activities that are a reward in itself. Teach real life skills like gardening, raising animals, repair skills, sewing, cooking, camping, hiking, exploring and helping others. Things that shape them. These things give kids a real feeling of accomplishment and are important life lessons.
Working with your kids and grandkids on projects, adventures and responsibilities like these not only teach useful skills, they also instill values, self-reliance and caring for others. We enjoyed our kids when they were little – not to say we don’t enjoy them now too :o) – and they worked along side us and also learned to like the things we liked, x-country skiing, rock climbing, camping, horseback riding etc. I think letting your kids be involved in your life is one of the best things you can teach them.