Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Getting Through the Holidays December 8, 2011

I spotted this article in a couple of places this week, but here’s the Huffington Post’s version. It’s about coping with the holidays when you’re going through infertility, but I think that many of the points apply to any of us who are facing the holidays without children.

Here’s some of what the authors have to say:

  • Decide which events you’ll attend and know you don’t have to go to everything you’re invited to.
  • Think about how you’ll handle being around children, new babies, and pregnant relatives. Here’s a post about that.
  • Decide how you’ll handle the prying questions about why you don’t have kids yet. You know they’re going to come, so be prepared. Here are some ideas on that.
  • Start a new family tradition of your own (I highly recommend this one.) Here are some fun ideas on that front.

The point is, the holidays are supposed to be fun for everyone, including you! So don’t let some Grinch (even an unwitting Grinch) ruin it for you.

If you have other ideas for surviving the holidays, please post them here. We could all use a little help at this time of year.


Sharing Holiday Traditions December 17, 2010

Today is Friday, December 17 and no matter how in denial you’ve been up until now, it’s time to face the fact that we are in full-blown holiday mode. I still have cards to write and mail, gifts to buy, and a naked, but beautiful tree that could use some decorations, and I am slowly acknowledging that Christmas is going to happen with or without me.

J and I have been married for almost seven years now and yet we haven’t really established any holiday traditions. When his mother was alive, we often hosted Christmas dinner at our house, but since she passed away two years ago his family has become fractured and they don’t spend the holidays together so much. My family is half way around the world, so we go there about every third year, and in between we kind of ping around like lost pinballs, with no set program for the holidays. If we had kids, I know it would be different.

Growing up, our family Christmas was the same every year. We’d usually go out Christmas Eve to a party at the local social club. There’d be dancing, my parents could have a drink, and it was a 10-15 minute walk home. We often walked home after midnight, so I would look for Father Christmas (Santa) in the sky. I’d hang out my pillowcase (not stocking) at the end of my bed and somehow Father Christmas would always manage to fill it without waking me up.

Being the youngest of three, I’d be the first up on Christmas morning, and usually get sent back to bed at least twice for getting up too early. My parents would bring up tea and cookies and we’d all pile into their bed to open the gifts. No matter what else we got, we always got pajamas, a sweater, and chocolate.

We’d often go out for a walk on Christmas morning while the turkey was cooking, especially if it was one of those crisp, sunny days, and sometimes we’d go over to my Grandma’s for a short visit, but we’d always get on the phone to all the relatives to wish them a Merry Christmas and thank them for our gifts.

It was usually just the five of us for Christmas dinner. I don’t remember having relatives join us. We’d have the traditional Christmas dinner – turkey, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, etc., followed by sherry trifle and/or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. We’d pull Christmas crackers, tell the jokes, and wear the paper hats all through dinner. Then we’d do the dishes and be all done in time for the Queen’s speech at 3:00. After that, there’d be a family movie (this was pre-video, and when the UK still only had three TV channels), something big like The Wizard of Oz, or new, such as Superman.

In the evening we’d play a game – cards or whichever board game was hot that year – and snack on cheese and crackers and all the goodies we only ever got at Christmas. My parents would have a beer or two and make me a shandy (a mix of beer and 7Up) and we’d watch our favorite Christmas specials until it was bedtime. So, for me, Christmas was always a quiet family time spent at home.

Why am I droning on about this? Because if I had children, I would pass these traditions on to them. I’d want to create the kind of Christmas memories for them that I have from my childhood. As it’s just the two of us, we have the freedom to spend Christmas however we choose, but without traditions of our own, it doesn’t feel as special.

So, I’m looking for some new traditions to start that fit our life now. I’d love it if you’d share some of yours – old family ones, and new ones that you’ve adopted as an adult. How do you make the holidays special and family-orientated when your family is just one or two?


Sharing Childhood Memories November 5, 2010

Today is an important holiday in my culture-of-origin. In the U.K. it’s Guy Fawkes’ Night or, as it’s more commonly known, Bonfire Night. It’s a cross between the 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, when we Brits–in order to show our gratitude for our Government not being blown to smithereens by a bunch of 17th century ne’er-do-gooders–light bonfires, set off fireworks, stuff our faces with roast chestnuts, parkin, and bonfire toffee, and then burn effigies of the traitors. It’s all very barbaric, but it was still always my second favorite holiday, after Christmas.

Now that I live 6,000 miles away from my hometown, I miss Bonfire Night. On my list of fondest childhood memories, Bonfire Night ranks pretty near the top. And it makes me sad sometimes (this year, apparently) that I have no one to pass along these memories and traditions to. I’ll never get the chance to tell stories of my favorite Bonfire Nights to my children or make Bonfire Toffee that they’ll remember 30 or 40 years later.

I’m sure part of my melancholy comes from knowing my own childhood is gone, but sharing days like this with my own children is one of the things I’m sad I’ll never get to do.