Da Ladies #6 | Da Ladies Kinda Hate Christmas
🗓️ Recorded November 21th, 2023. 📍Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Mexico
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About this Episode
Join Cecilie, Carla, Luna, and Sarah for a heartfelt and insightful discussion about the complexities of Christmas, as we delve into its many layers. In this episode, we confront the often overwhelming emotions associated with the holiday season, from the stress of consumerism to the intricate family dynamics. We candidly share our experiences with financial democracy within families, the various perspectives on gift-giving, and the challenge of balancing societal expectations with personal values.
Through our conversation, we explore how past traumas and childhood experiences influence our perception of Christmas and the importance of letting go of control to embrace peace and joy. We discuss creating new traditions, finding healing, and making Christmas meaningful in ways that align with our personal values. Whether you're dealing with unresolved trauma, trying to navigate family dynamics, or simply curious about the deeper meanings behind the holiday season, this episode offers a transformative and genuine narrative, promising an engaging and thought-provoking journey through the real essence of Christmas.
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Luna Maj Vestergaard:
Watch the full interview on YouTube
00:00 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
So welcome to the Ladies, episode 6. I am here today and I am with my same group of favorite women Kali, who is still a tinerife. Welcome, luna, I think you're in Copenhagen, maybe no, somewhere. Oh, in English. Oh, jutland and Sarah, you are in England at the moment. These women are my favorite women to help me fix the world and it really does need fixing. Today we are going to talk about Christmas. This is our first seasonal feature episode. I wonder if we're doing more in the future, but Christmas really is a thing, and I'm very excited to hear what thing it is for you girls, because for me, I don't think I should start. That would ruin it. So I'm planning to release this one a bit earlier so that our listeners can benefit from listening to it before the actual holidays, somewhere mid-December, and I hope that we can get some shoulders down and maybe open some perspectives, if anyone feels stressed out or under some kind of pressure from this precious tradition. So did any of you plan for something?
01:35 - Sarah Beale (Host)
specific. I've got so much to say about Christmas, I could do the whole podcast.
01:45 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Oh, like by myself, then I'll stop you here and there we go on. I'll try to shut up myself.
01:55 - Sarah Beale (Host)
I love Christmas. We love Christmas in our family Always have but because we're unschooling families, I think we want to bring in or talk about this through the lens of unschooling, because I'm sure all four of us and anyone listening will have been through some kind of unpackaging that's kind of a metaphor thing around Christmas. I'm sure we've all had a lot of ships and we've probably all had these journeys around. What we think about Christmas. I don't think I'm unique in that. So I'm happy to start just because I do have a lot to say, but you guys will have to just tell me to be quiet because I will talk for a really long time about Christmas.
We have heaps of fun at Christmas time and we spend a lot of money and that's controversial because it's very fashionable to reject commercialism and consumerism. Now my family is like the antithesis of that, which has been like a deprogramming for me, because we follow our kids' lead in that actually they love presents. They love presents. They are not up for austerity at all. They want all the treats. They want to go big and we spent a lot of years trying to pull that rain that in and now we just go for it and it's actually way more fun. That's the short version.
03:44 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Well, I feel you're holding back and maybe we should just say it out loud. We've been all day trying to get together to do this podcast, that I think we're all sitting on things that we thought we would say and we're all confused. Usually we talk on top of each other and now we're like so maybe this opening dance is a little different from what we would usually do. I think you should totally unpack it. So what's with consumerism versus your kids' need for Christmas? In European and how did it change yeah?
04:24 - Sarah Beale (Host)
yeah, yeah, there's nothing there for me now, nothing, it's just like whatever. It's like really it's whatever. But I remember a time when my kids were small and I felt the weight of all of the messaging in the kind of parenting world particularly the crunchy mum natural parenting world that I was part of that said that your children can only have presents handmade in Germany out of wood or something that you've foraged or made yourself. That was the world that I was surrounded by and I was like I have to protect my children from the consumerism which is so evil and terrible and it's going to swallow them up. But what I actually did was go so far the other way that Christmas became very stressful for me, because every time someone gave them a Barbie doll or something made from plastic, I was like, oh my God, they've given them something that's made by a big company and it's terrible, and then it's going to destroy them and ruin them and they're not going to understand the true meaning of Christmas.
We did everything, even before I had children. Actually, I was constantly battling the excesses of Christmas and I did. We did like donate money instead of give presents. We did a $30 present, $30 Christmas. We did only second hand shopping Christmas. We've done like. I was constantly trying to hold like, so you know, but that was actually not very much fun because I was literally fighting the entire family.
And it was very stressful because I had expectations and attachments to outcomes and I got very stressed out about it. So ultimately, where I ended up was going what am I actually trying to do? I was trying to teach lessons. That's what I was trying to do. I was trying to teach lessons.
Actually, what really changed it for us is my mother-in-law dying. So Dylan's mum died when Violet was almost seven, so that is nearly nine. Yeah, nine years ago almost nine years ago my mother-in-law died and she was full on, full on with shopping and presents and we felt like we constantly had to offset that with some kind of strange like austerity thing, anti-consumerism. But actually after she died, we realised that was part of how she showed love to our family and to her grandchildren and it gave us a totally different perspective on that. And now, funnily enough, I'm in lots of parenting groups and I always see these posts come up parents saying we only want our children to have natural presents at Christmas or we only want our children to have experiences. How do we tell the grandparents that we don't want presents? And I'm like don't tell the grandparents that you don't want presents, let the grandparents shower their grandchildren in the way that they want to show love.
Because actually, what I realised after was that I was trying to control how other people showed our family love by telling other people what was acceptable for our family to receive, which is actually really controlling, even though I wasn't honest about that, about that being what I was doing yeah, so that was a big, that was a massive shift for us. And now I mean, we've not lived in our home country and seen our family for several years and actually the kids really miss that. The kids really miss the massive, crazy Christmases with lots of presents and sharing food with lots of family members. We've been apart from 2019, we were with the Lina's family and I'm sure she's going to tell you some stories about Christmas from the perspective of her family and how important Christmas trees are in her life. I know she's going to bring up the Christmas tree story.
08:10 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I mean we could try to do a round on the on the presents, the theme of presents, I think. I mean, I suppose that the journey that you have been on with going from well through stages on how you see the presents situation, at least you know. You know now what is a happy Christmas for your children. What is that? I suppose we all want this celebration to be a happy day. Any other Tuesday we want to be a happy day. This is something that we want to be a happy day. And now you know what they want. They really want presents.
I have these strange, random children that do not like presents. They can talk to me in June and say I'm stressed out about Christmas. I think maybe my grandparents wanted to give me presents and I don't know what I want and I'm not sure I want a present. And how can we cope with it? This year? They really don't like it Really.
And so I mean it's not just about whether you're for or against Bobby dolls and for or against expensive Christmas presents or showering of presents, it's also a personality thing. To me, the most important thing is that we stop to think about how we want. I mean, christmas is probably just after putting your kids in school, without even giving it a second thought. You celebrate Christmas the way your parents celebrated Christmas and you just do it and that's how it's done and therefore we do it this way. And everybody are supposed to pretend that they're happy, especially the children. They are looking at the children and they have to smile and have stars in their eyes and be all happy and joyful about all the presents and the entire scene. And my kids, they don't like it. It's not about consumerism. I mean, I don't like consumerism, I don't want to fold it, but the fact that my kids don't get presents for Christmas is more because they don't want that Is that radical.
10:41 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
What do they want then?
10:44 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
10:47 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I guess it's just like the material presents they don't want to do. They want money or experiences or something else.
10:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
If we could have a Christmas where we didn't have to open presents, that would probably be the preferred version for most of them. It might be that my youngest might enjoy unwrapping one or two presents, maybe if he was in the mood for it. They just want it to be, I don't know. They want to sing, songs and be around people they like and have and now I'm saying traditional Christmas food, which cannot be traditional when you're both vegan and allergic to gluten. I mean, we do our special cauliflower thing. That's what we.
Maybe they do want something that they can think of. They want to do all the decorations, but actually mostly it's the girls who want that, and we have a movie we always watch during the holidays, not necessarily on Christmas evening. They like doing that and they like the songs, they like the smells and they prefer, if they can be around, their oldest sister who does not live with us. That's what they want for Christmas. And they don't want to travel. They say if we could not travel that day, not being transit, that's what they're asking for. Same thing for New Year. But really they don't. They do not enjoy it, the whole presents situation at all, and maybe I ruined it. I don't know, maybe I ruined it, maybe it's my fault.
12:44 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I don't know. It's interesting because I'm assuming that's quite rare to not actually not like it and not just be neutral and be like, oh, I don't really care about the presence, but I don't mind them. But it sounds more like they actually mind it. They don't really like it, they'd rather not, and that's quite rare. I'm just wondering, yeah, what has it always been like that?
13:12 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Well, there's something I did on purpose, which I just it was a strategy. I don't want to give them really expensive stuff for Christmas or for birthdays. Say they need a new phone or a new gamer computer or some musical instrument, anything expensive. Let's say more than a thousand dollars worth something expensive that you wouldn't normally hand out on a Tuesday, or even like less, something more than I don't know. I don't even know what a thousand dollars is, I'm too tired but something that you couldn't normally just go by. And then you say, okay, you can have that for your birthday or you.
It's a normal response from parents to say you can put that on your list of wishes for Christmas and I didn't want that because I found it a trap. When I have four children, let's say one of them really need a new computer and we save up for that for Christmas, but I have four children and the three others they get something value of a t-shirt because that's what they need and want for Christmas. Do we need the financial democracy? Is it unfair, will they feel?
Why did that person get a new computer while I just got a new pillow? You know, I don't know. I just found if there's something they need and they really need it and I can afford it. I'd rather give it to them on a regular Tuesday and they can all have a pillow for Christmas, because that will just make things easier, basically for me but also between the children. So that part I did ruin on purpose. I mean, yeah, and I personally don't like Christmas. Now I've said it, I don't like it, I don't like, I hate all of everything about it. That's not my thing.
15:13 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Why do you hate it? That's so interesting. Why do you hate everything about it?
15:18 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's the pressure. I think, being the central person in the family, I mean the leader of planning and executing this thing at least it was my job 10 years ago when they were smaller I had to make sure that it all went well, and I'm not even focused enough to be able to see if I remember to buy a Christmas present for each of them. I mean, maybe I forgot one, or I had three presents for one of them and only two for the rest, or whatever. I can't. I mean, where would I put a list where I noted it, where no one could find it? I don't have that kind of places in my house when I had a house 10 years ago, and well, so there's the pressure and all the handmade bullshit that I agree. I mean, I was part of that as well, not that I didn't agree with it or do it, but it is the pressure from the parental, the communication about parenting. It has this. You know all the Instagrammable things people hand knit the needs of who. What's that in English? It was just. I'm not much of a planner. I mean I maybe I can start preparing Christmas on the 20th of December. It's not really a thing for me to start thinking about it in November, let's say even October it's.
I'm very much in the here and now. So suddenly we're there and it's Christmas and, oh my God, I need a tree, I need presents, I need to prepare for a dinner. I never even think about the next meal. I don't shop for the next meal. I mean I shop. I'm here now, I can plan what I'm cooking for lunch, but I'm not planning what I'm cooking next Tuesday. I can't do that, it's not my thing.
And then suddenly you're there and it has to be all perfect and I don't know. I usually had a meltdown Wanting to. And also, when I lived in Denmark, it's in the death center of the winter. I mean, I'm clinically depressed at this point. There is no sunlight. I have no, I have no surplus of energy of any sort.
And now I have to be this smiling mommy in a red apron with a hat and something shiny everywhere, with little cookies and handmade presents and everything has to be so, and all these guests that I'm supposed to invite that do not like me and don't want to come, I mean, or all these, all these invitations that I get and everyone wants us to be at the same, at the same time, 10 different places, and if we say no to one or yes to another, everybody, everything explodes. That's also my solution was to leave. Basically, when we started leaving Denmark for the Christmas, it helped a lot, and maybe, maybe that's also one of the reasons my kids don't want presents, they don't want the hype of Christmas, because they've seen my meltdowns. I don't know.
I don't know. I have a kids alarm going on in the room just to say can I'll be back. There's a phone saying weird sound.
18:50 - Sarah Beale (Host)
Well, that's an interesting still has has a different kind of Christmas tradition to my family and maybe that's so interesting because you know we talk a lot in the unschooling space about our kids, you know, being self directed and whatever, and but we do often discount the role modeling stuff. And my parents, particularly my dad and Dylan's mum separate families but same both love Christmas and both made such an effort to make Christmas that really special we might. In my family we always have these particular traditions a particular candlestick that literally comes out at Christmas a candlestick gets polished and everything. A particular jar that never, ever comes out apart from Christmas, and I have particular lollies put in it, particularly like the box of Christmas decorations.
And who knows where that genre is my mom. My mom knows where it is and remembers to buy the lollies.
19:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, my mom. Yeah, okay, your mom, but I was the mom. You know I had to do that it's. I'm even getting a little tense, you've got trauma.
20:09 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
You've got trauma, obviously, but you know, I think so many people have trauma around Christmas because it is just one of these times where everybody wants everything to be perfect and it has to be perfect, because it's this one time of the year where everyone gets together or I don't know why, but there is this built in pressure and for many reasons. And well, just listening to you it's just it's really interesting because I mean I could probably do an entire podcast or two or three around just Christmas myself as well, because, like everyone else, you have all. You have this huge history with it. And when you were talking, sarah, about letting the grandparents show love the way they want to show love, blah, blah, blah. And I'm saying blah, blah, blah because it's kind of like it's such a balance to find.
So I'll share one story, because I was in the same kind of mom circles around the same time when our oldest kids were young. So the crunchy, non toxic, non plastic, no China crab, like the whole handbag wooden elf thing, and I did not want any plastic. It's like, not yo from charity shop, that's fine, because it's already been produced. So I mean, if I buy it, I mean it and that's true. It does actually doesn't. It doesn't contribute to the over production because it's already been like it's second hand right so I was not even true, luna.
21:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I don't know, but that was my second hand shop is the very good excuse for people to buy new things, because they're not actually throwing out the old things.
21:57 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Yeah, I know but that was, that was like my, that was the reasoning, but anyway, the point being that I tried to get my parents to buy stuff from second hand shops and they wouldn't, because for them it's just not in their generation, I guess, and it's like they associate it with poverty and not having this I don't know lots of. They would not do it. So they insist, and they still do to the day, on buying stuff, new you know, and if they can buy it on Black Friday, that's great, because then they'll get it even better. Often, like they're like, but they're not like, they don't have any like no ill intentions or anything, it's just like how they work and how they are. So anyway, they knew.
My mom knew exactly, because she asks you know what do you want Christmas? And blah, blah, blah, and she knew how I was and what I thought about all these things, and so this must have been probably the first Christmas when we were back in Denmark and it was at our house for once, which also is an entire story in itself, because that was very, very hard for my mom to actually let go of some of the control and have someone else actually arrange Christmas. And they came to our house and they rocked up with this huge big packet like thing wrapped in commercial wrapping paper, which already set my heart beating and I could not like stand still because I couldn't actually think of anything else, because it's like, oh my god, I'm getting this commercial wrapping paper that's awful in my house and I can't remember probably yeah, probably from that awful chain store full of like plastic crap.
Anyway, I knew at that point. I knew what was in that thing because my daughter wanted something and they knew she wanted it and they had, of course, gotten it for her and I was gonna get it. It's not that I didn't want to have it, I was just gonna get it for her in a charity shop. Anyway, they rocked up with that. She unpacks it and of course, oh my god, it's this horrible Barbie castle like pale pastel, greenish, pinkish, like that, and bought new. And then and my daughter was like over the moon and I was like probably the biggest bitch face ever on the planet earth. I was really pissed and I was just I couldn't, I could not enjoy the moment like I couldn't at all. The only thing I could think of was I specifically told you I do not want plastics. And what do you bring?
you bring plastics and you bring a huge plastic thing like it was just everything was wrong about it and I was so much and there was a lot more to that Christmas and to the other Christmases. But I'm just relating to your story. I was not able to just see the kindness to just be happy for my daughter to just go.
I don't know what the hell. No, just be happy, just do the whole thing about these values, because they were my values and I was clinging so much to them that they completely took over my life. They completely took over the relation between everyone wasn't in the center anymore. The whole thing about love and giving and happy and blah, blah, blah all the Christmassy stuff nothing was in the center anymore. The only thing that was in the center were my like values and and like she overstepped my boundaries and she didn't know. No, no, no, no, no. Lots of things right.
And today it seems so stupid. But at the same time I also know that there was a lot of history behind that of having grown up and my entire childhood having my boundaries overstepped by my mom who did not listen, who did not give me any choice, was very authoritarian, like all the whole. So that entire like that story also played into it for me, because that was just yet another like. I've even left home and still I cannot get to choose and decide. You still have to come with so.
So I think, without saying that everyone carries the same amount of like psychological trauma to that point, but I think there is to some extent there's some of that for the families, because there's the generational thing where when you want to decide what goes on for your children, it to some extent has to do with what you decided everything when I was a kid. It's my turn now, like, don't like the parents overstepping, and that can be with the presence or with the food, or with when do you dance around the Christmas tree, or how do you dance around the Christmas tree, or blah, blah, blah. That's like loads. So I was just like when you were talking it's like I was. That just came to mind because it's just an interesting. There's so many layers of everything.
27:10 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah it's an interesting balance to find between the I think we all agree on letting go and being attached to outcome and trying to control everyone around us that we were to experience parents by now, so we know that it's probably not the best path to walk down in any case, christmas or not, but on the other hand, you also have to go through the day and be able to enjoy it and see your children enjoying it, whether it's a regular Tuesday or it's Christmas day, and and in that way, some boundaries sometimes have to be set and some choices and some families have to be made.
I I have a big and very fragmented family there, lots of different options as to whom to spend Christmas with and where, in which country, and what day and what time of the day, and which traditions to hold on to and who to call granddad. There are lots of things that are not easy choices and and even though I cannot control the outcome and do not want to control everyone involved, I cannot either just float, because it's not a one direction, it's not like a river going one way. I have to make choices and I have to be able to stand up for these choices, and that's why leaving was such a great options, because you know I'm not in the country. End of story. No to everyone was a very good solution for us.
28:46 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
But not the schooling thing. Isn't it like finding? Why is it that you want to set a boundary or have a boundary?
28:57 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's a de schooling solution to run away and hide.
29:02 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I mean it's a solution. What?
29:05 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
perfectly is done for many years now. I think it's 10 years of not being in Denmark for Christmas Perfect.
29:12 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Fight, flight or freeze. Which one is it?
29:18 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
29:23 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I want to hear, sorry Now, the whole finding the balance. That that's the thing, that's, that's that's the de schooling process. To like, which boundaries do you want to keep and which boundaries are, like, healthy to keep, the ones that are set for a valid, legitimate, good reason, well thought through reason, not just because you're still carrying childhood trauma about not being able to decide something, not because I don't know whatever something, something because, like Sarah said and I have the same experience Once I could let go of a lot of stuff, it's just a way more, it's way nicer, it's a way nicer place to be and as much more love and kindness and happiness and Christmasy things. Once I could let go of that need to control whatever Like it's yeah, just getting past the things.
30:30 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I think also it's getting past and and letting go of, of allowing it to become so important. Yeah, but the problem is that other people involved could find it very important. And another problem that I've really had over the years in the different contexts and here you talk about the jar and the lollies, sarah I've I've celebrated Christmas and many different families, because my family consists of many different constellations and I also have my in laws and they don't mix with my biological family, which is not one family but several families. So to me, christmas has been many different scenes and the rules of the games are different everywhere. The problems are different, everywhere the expectations are different. I have a Christmas scene where we had to, where it was High society, men in antique uniforms and women in in you know it looked like something out of a movie, 400 year old glass things on the table and and I spent Christmas.
You know my hippie family saying on the floor eating dial. It's so many different ways of celebrating and my in laws do it in a very traditional Danish way. I've spent Did I ever spent Christmas up? So my husband's family the system was they change between his sister and his mother hosting, so they already had like when would we ever? You know, just one year, choosing to spend Christmas with my family would be to choose my mother in law or my assistant law, and that already presented a problem.
And I think all of these underlying Scenes of negotiation that goes on behind the scenes of Christmas, especially when and I've had this since I was a very small child that I had to choose, had to make a choice which meant that someone would be let down and I also had to perform. Because then now I'm here and I'm supposed to be very happy when I unwrap the presents. I'm supposed to like the dessert, I'm supposed to know the songs in the very posh family, I'm supposed to know which fork to use, at what time and when to do what toast and I'm supposed to be able to sing Christmas songs and three languages, and it was just so many expectations. I mean, I have fond memories, but I also have horrified memories of Christmas People being drunk, people having extreme arguments, shouting, things being thrones, things being set on fire.
And maybe we all want the Christmas that Sarah talks about and maybe it feels like a failure to not have it. And I had to get over that and I had to just leave it all behind, just say fuck it, let's just go for a walk. I really, really hate it. Now that we talk about it, I really do. I'm curious, carla, how is Christmas at Tenerife? Is Christmas even? I mean, I was at Tenerife or the Canary several many times for Christmas. That was my escape and the present thing was on the Holy Kings Day.
34:44 - Carla Martinez (Host)
You should have come to my house. Yeah, I mean I have not drawn my stories, I have never had pressure. I mean my parents came to the Canary Islands from the mainland, so I have no more family here, so maybe this is something that has to do. And so they came here, and also our neighbors. They were friends, they work together, my father and the neighbors, so it's like our family here. So we celebrate Christmas and other things together. So it's like and also my parents, the way they think and the way they work with us and they are, they are open and they are able to change things. It's like we create our own thing, our own tradition. Even me and my sister were part of it.
And maybe we decide this year the presents we buy, whatever, and the next year, oh no, we don't need so many things, I just want money, I need a computer or whatever. So we decide every year what we want to do and my parents always support or say yes, okay, at the beginning, because we live in a flat, we have a little tree, and then we move to this house, the house I am now, and one day we say, oh, I want a bigger tree, and my father, we went to the shop and we bought the biggest one, the biggest who could fit in the house. I don't know how tall, but it was like super tall. And then we I enjoy because I like when I say this is a party and you know me I always call party everything but it's mostly because of the people and what that we sat, we sit together on the table and we eat and we talk and we sing and whatever. So, yeah, so it's, I enjoy a lot on my Christmas in my childhood and then I wanted to say this also because it's I think it's kind of curious. Also, my father had they were eight brothers and sisters. So till now they still get together the 27th of December in Valencia in one place.
Everyone live in different places. Before we choose a place in the mainland and they go there, and now it's always they are getting older. Now my grandparents are dead because my grandmother was the one cooking and everything. Now they are not here, but all my aunts and uncles, and now it's like my generation and our kids. So they get together this day. So it's like they kind of manage to say this day, every year we do this. So I think this is not really nice. There are no conflict or this place or my place. They just want to see each other and have a nice day and they, yeah.
So then when I have kids, yeah, I have also this thing with the presents, like a bit of the with the materials, like no plastic, no sound and lights. But I had not really much problem, like because it was only my parents and David's parents and it's like I say I trust my parents. I never really have to tell them much. And David's mother is more like what should I do, what? She's always asking for instructions. So it was like easy and they respect us if I say yeah. So I was really like touch about the stories of the Barbie castle, because it's not even about the present, it's about your. You know what you ask for, because for me, my parents always have respect me, even if they don't understand or they you know. So, yeah, I don't know. Then yes, and now I don't know in which point is like I only said whatever you want, it's fine. So I let grandparents do whatever they want and I'm okay. But also I think I can do this because how they are so I'm not sure. Yeah, so I feel I live Christmas like naturally, like I don't feel I have to fit in any expectation of anyone. It's like we design how we want it.
The day, the Christmas, we were in Bulgaria. We just arrived the day before Christmas, we just bought some I don't know the decoration thing but we didn't have a tree. We have a this place where you hang your clothes like taller I don't know in English yeah, so we just put this was our tree and I say this is our tree and it's like we pretend this is the tree and that is like it doesn't matter. We just make the party and how we want it and we decide together what are we going to cook? And the kids say chicken and we say, okay, let's make chicken. So we did chicken that Christmas. So, yeah, but even if we don't get to that Christmas, actually we have the band break down.
Just before we arrived in Bulgaria, we thought we were in Romania and I started telling the kids like, okay, maybe we have to spend Christmas here and it's fine, but we have the plan, we have our food, so it won't be like a trauma. It's like for me, the party is like the people and what we can do with what we have? Yeah, so I don't know. Happy people, yeah, or maybe it's like like always. I say like the attitude and yeah, and also because I don't have many of the important people for me. It's not around asking me for anything, so this is very crucial, I think.
42:01 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
That's what works for me as well, that at least we are the five of us. Most years we've been six with my daughter, or even seven with her boyfriend joining. Now we can just talk about it. How do we want Christmas to be? How do we want to celebrate what's important? And we usually say everyone. If everyone can say out loud one thing that's important, then we have seven wishes for the celebration and we can accomplish that, whereas what I felt I had to fit into was a very big scheme of things that had to happen back when I lived in Denmark.
Maybe also Denmark is just, I don't know. I mean, I haven't grown up in several countries. I grew up in Denmark, with the traditions around me there, and I think it's massive. It's huge, and I found it very hard to feel like I was a good enough mother and probably I wasn't, especially because I was always freaking out about trying to do something that I didn't like doing and I didn't know how to accomplish it, and I sort of felt we had to know all the songs and watch all the movies and do all the decorations and visit all the different family members or at least distribute our time so that all the different family members could get to have some Christmas-y feeling around my kids and my family and at the same time I didn't want us to be too overwhelmed and too absorbed. I mean, the solution when you are from fragmented family to just do it five times is not a great solution. To celebrate, to do the whole ritual five days in a row, it's like this masquerade. It didn't feel good either, so when we left we could narrow it down to just us. What do we want and what will make Christmas good for us? That helped a lot.
I've been back one year and it was great, I will admit it. It was a wonderful Christmas that we spent with my sister's family and it was wonderful, but it was. I mean I'd had quite a few years of healing at that point and also it's only a few years ago. So I've been a mother for quite some time and I know how to handle the grandparents and let go of many things, and I can also handle kids that are not happy on Christmas Eve, which, you know, if you have more than one, it happens that some of them just don't, you know, don't have a good day and in the beginning I would feel like a huge failure if my kids were not happy on Christmas. And now I'm like you know I can't control their emotions.
45:25 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
That's the thing again. Because someone at some point to put it that way decided that Christmas is special, that it has to be a special day and therefore there's so much pressure, but in reality it's just a day like any other really like, objectively speaking, it's the 24th of December, that's what it is.
That could be any other day of the year, but there is this pressure building up and I was just thinking what you said, carla. I think you said a very important word when you said you talked about the trust. You said I don't know, I can actually just trust the grandparents, and I just think that's actually a really important word because I didn't feel like I could trust my mom to buy. Well, I couldn't. It's not that I felt like it's that I couldn't. I couldn't trust my mom to respect my wishes, to buy me something that I would feel was suitable, and all that Like I couldn't trust her.
And I think there's just so many people in general. That's the state of the world, isn't it Like that, sarah? Do you remember that meme I shared a few days ago or a week or something, about trauma? We all just traumatized parents like continuing trauma, passing on trauma to our own children. It's something about thinking about how our parents were traumatized, passing on trauma from their parents to us, who were then passing it on until someone actually decides to stop that cycle.
And I think that's what makes Christmas so hard is that's because most people walk around with unresolved trauma. And then for a lot of people, unresolved trauma oftentimes means that you get a need of like, you want to control things, and so you have a bunch of people in need of control because they somehow didn't have it at some point, and so it becomes very important for every person to win that game because you don't feel safe. Well, now it's all about the nervous system and the trauma and all that, but people aren't feeling safe. They aren't feeling like they can trust the others. They aren't. So everyone is just trying to win. And on Christmas it's just even worse because there's this expectation that we should be happy and it should be so. That's the expectation and this is smack in the whole unschooling, de-schooling thing. Isn't it the whole thing about? When you can let go of that? That's when the healing happens, that's when things start to become nice.
So over the years I've moved and today we're just back doing Christmas at my parents, exactly as my mom wants the Christmas. And do you know what I love Christmas? I love going to her place, I love doing the things her way. And what's changed? Nothing's changed in the way. My Okay, to be fair, she has calmed down quite a bit and she's actually way more. She listens way more now and she's not as what would you say. It doesn't feel so much like she's provoking or anything anymore. But anyway, I'm losing that. I was just trying to say that the thing that has changed is me. I've changed, I've decided to let go. I've reached the point where I could let go of needing to. It's okay, you can stay in control, that's fine.
But then the thing is also I think I like understanding that when I was a kid and when a young adult and all this thing about Christmas having to be this way and I'm going to bring you this damn present whether you want it or not, that was about her need of control. She was not able to let go of that need of control and I wasn't able to let go of mine. So you had two people who just couldn't let go of their control needs and just go oh, love, when you aren't able to see the other one and ask what do you want? And that also makes me think about the whole giving thing. Why are we giving presents and who should actually? The whole thing about let someone it's just so interesting, sarah.
I keep coming back to thinking about that thing you started out saying about let them show love in the way they want to show love. Yes, and I agree, and you can do that. And then that eases up a lot of things. And at the same time, that's this question of well, I mean, who's the gift for and what's the gift giving about? I mean, are you giving a gift because you want to feel good, because you want to have this oh, I'm giving you a present or are you giving a present because you want the other one, the other person, to feel good? So when I grew up I hope no one is listening, because this is quite like Luna, can I?
50:36 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
tell you something. Yeah, you're recording a podcast, I know, and I'm going to put it on the internet.
50:44 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
When I said no one, I meant I'm sharing it because I don't think this is going to reach, this is not going to reach my mom. That's what I think I also don't have the need to like, but still, it's still a very important part of my process and why I am where the place I am in today. It all comes from there. But so, anyway, just to say that when I grew up, my mom would use to. She used to ask me what do you want for Christmas or what do you want for your birthday? And then she'd get me something else than what I wrote on the list and I think that's just.
That was so weird and something that I spent a lot of time. So it yeah, and we're not going to dive into that because there's so much in that, but the whole thing is like that's, she was not giving gifts for me, she was doing it for her. I mean, it's like and there's this so, yeah, show love in the way you want to show love. But also, well, if you're going to bring someone a gift, I mean it should be about them and what they want and what they need and how they want it. So it's like but if you stay in that energy of should, then you can't solve it, because at one point someone has to step off the should thing and just go oh okay.
52:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Whatever, yeah, really whatever. As we said in the last podcast, whatever, everything is all right.
52:24 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I mean, there's no Well, do you remember the Danish saying? I mean, I know, you remember it Du fårat ja får fred. Can we just translate that?
52:38 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
So you get to be right and I get peace.
52:41 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Yeah, that's what it means, and it's a Danish saying, and that's the whole thing, isn't it? You get the peace, you get, that's the whole. Okay, you win. You get to be right, I let go. And what do I get? I get peace, it's just yeah.
53:07 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I think if there is trauma in the family.
If there is a dynamic that needs some attention or that is just broken, then on the intense days like Christmas or big birthday parties or weddings, it all comes up to the surface and becomes very powerful. And I am from a broken home and the homes that were constructed afterwards, none of them was my base. I was from the broken part, so everything would be half, and I think that's probably the main reason that I just couldn't handle the thing. And I think, if I'm going to extract any sort of recommendation, I would say I mean, we just have to face who we are with these situations. If you really have this trauma with your mom and the presence, then maybe Christmas is just going to be hell for you, but let the kids open those damn presents and don't try to control where it's in them.
I know you don't do that by now, luna, but I know that maybe that would have been the good advice that you could have used at that point in your life to just smooth out those days, and I could for sure have used some good advice. I don't know, I don't know. You even know what by now, back when I was trying to navigate the field when the kids were younger and they didn't have clear opinions yet, and it seems like half of us are from homes where things are complicated and the other half are from homes where things are less complicated and that divides it. And I think for me it was always hard to feel that I failed and to look over the hedge to the neighbor and see something that looked very happy and beautiful and decorated and like they even had snow. On the other side of the hedge we just had rain and my chaos. I also noticed we talk a lot about presents. It's funny, isn't it? We talk about Christmas and the problem really is in the gift giving and the whole dynamic around that.
55:58 - Carla Martinez (Host)
Presents and food Presents, and food and songs, that's.
56:04 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Maybe, but then Luna said something about the real values. What did you say? You said something about the real idea of Christmas. I think was your wording. Is it about just having fun with food and decorations and presents, or is there a message or a meta value thing that we're trying to pass on? Is that the reason we all started out with the handmade wooden fair trade idea Because we wanted this to have some symbolic value or is it really just about? To me, it's mostly about getting over it. I just enjoy New Year.
57:06 - Sarah Beale (Host)
Well, I grew up in a Christian family, so Christmas did have a very specific meaning and all of the ritual and celebration around Christmas well, a lot of it was related to the religious festival of Jesus' birth. That's how I grew up. Of course, there's a lot of add-ons to that, but that's how we celebrated Christmas. We always went to church, as we did every Sunday and probably other days too. That was a very big part of the ritualism that my mum brought into Christmas. I think possibly we had an easier time growing up because my dad had left his home country and we had a very small family in Australia. We didn't have a lot of extended family, so we didn't actually grow up with a lot of complexity around having to fit in lots of people. We had our family, our immediate family and one grandma, and that one grandma would come to our house at Christmas. So pretty much every Christmas was just like four people and my grandma throughout my whole childhood until I was an older teenager and my sister was born, but still it was very. We didn't have to take into account a lot of people's stories and baggage. It was just our small family and there was always and we still do it. We have a lot of traditions around Christmas and my children have brought in their own stuff and so for me and we still talk about this all the time that really anchored Christmas for me is like there could be some stuff going on. My mum and dad did ultimately get divorced, so then there was other people to fit in and my husband's parents and my parents did all actually get on, so then we started to have some shared Christmases and at some point there's extended family and people get boyfriends and whatever. But we always have these traditions and rituals that were consistent and so it has always given Christmas this kind of familiarity and this like foundation and it's almost like for us that has transcended everything else. There can be all the stuff going on, but still we're doing the Christmas tree a particular way and everyone decorates it and we all do it together. And we play the same music every year Doesn't matter what country we're in Same music. We have stockings. My children still get Christmas stockings. I got a Christmas stocking until I was like 21. And that's like we can't stop that. We can't. We eat the same food. We always have roast. We always my dad was still drink the same. He buys the same, like drinks, like it's just that's how we do it. We all we wear Christmas hats, we have Christmas pudding which we flame with brandy and, like my family my small family now have continued on these traditions from my parents.
My dad brought on a lot of the traditions from his parents and so there's this like familial link to that for me feels really special and I think that actually has allowed us to navigate some of the things that are challenging, because, like every family, we've also had challenging stuff too, like kids not getting what they thought they were going to get and having a tantrum, or kids having too much lemonade, or by the third day of Christmas, kids just being completely overwhelmed and crying and you know whatever. We've had all of the, all of the things families having arguments, families having rifts and not coming into our house because somebody else is there, and like we've had all of that stuff too. But actually I only remember it now because it's being teased out of me. That's not even important to me because, like we watch the Grinch on Christmas Eve and that is what we do. That's one of our new traditions that Violet started and now we're going to have to do it till we die, but to me that's really important which one?
01:00:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's a movie.
01:01:00 - Sarah Beale (Host)
01:01:01 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I don't know it.
01:01:02 - Sarah Beale (Host)
It's a book. It is a Dr Seuss book and it has been turned into a movie. Couple of different movies actually. Jim Carrey most famously plays the Grinch. It's a Christmas classic.
01:01:16 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Okay, now we watch Love Actually and that cannot be changed Like the only thing that can. And maybe it's not on Christmas evening, because sometimes it's not that systematic, but sometime in December. Yeah, that's the Christmas movie. We have one, and now my son-in-law has introduced another one, so now we have two and I cannot go up to three. That would be too much.
01:01:40 - Sarah Beale (Host)
What's the other one that he?
01:01:41 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
has to watch. He has to watch Home Alone, but not every year, Doesn't have to be every year. He's very nice If we just watch it sometimes. Then we can watch Love Actually most of the year. It's interesting how you can ignore the things and I can't.
I'm wondering about the trauma thing. My parents divorced when I was fairly young I think I was four, and it was when my dad has mental issues. So there have been quite a lot of violence and real chaos leading up to it and I had to, after the divorce, choose sides, which obviously I didn't. So I was just one version when I was around my mom and another version when I was around my dad, because they hated each other and they well, one of them is still alive and I don't think that ever changed. They just disliked each other the rest of their lives and they didn't want to see any trace of the other in me and they were both very aware all the time, looking out for little signs of the other. It was especially complicated with my relation to my dad because I look exactly like my mom, like 95% exactly like my mom.
So I was always pretending, trying to not piss anyone off, and also for Christmas. Obviously the first years it was one Christmas here, one Christmas there, one Christmas here, one Christmas there. They were very different and I don't know, maybe it's just that coming up every year that I just become the pleaser, the pretending. I worked with it obviously over the years and it really ended when I became a mother because I couldn't be two versions of myself depending on who was around. So she needed to have the same mother and that lured out the well, wouldn't say the real me. It's not like it wasn't the real me, it was just like there is one combination of personality traits that I unfold in one context and another combination that I would unfold in the other context and that was the dance of my childhood. And then when I became a mom I would have to be the same mother when I was around her grandparents, no matter which one. Maybe that's really I mean.
Of course Christmas was a big fighting point. They fought over who got to be around me at Christmas and they fought over the whole logistics of it and presence. Obviously they were competing or disagreeing or putting down the idea of the other person's presence. So my presence, I mean it was not a happy moment to receive a present because I couldn't take it home and be sure it was just and maybe that's what carries through.
But I think, really observing my children when they were small and we would attend Christmas parties at my dad's house and my mom's house and my in-laws house they didn't enjoy it, but there was this whole expectation that they had to enjoy it. So they started pretending to enjoy it and I really don't want my children to have to pretend to enjoy in order to please everyone around them. That was what really put me off and that was the reason we first we started just saying no, staying home for Christmas, and that made a lot of trouble in the family. And then later on we said, okay, let's just leave, because that will make it easier for everyone that we're not in the country, and so we started going to Tenerife and adjacent islands. I don't know. I mean, I wish there was a way I could do what Sarah does create a Christmas that everyone loves within the framework of the family.
01:06:50 - Carla Martinez (Host)
Isn't that what we all want A Christmas that you love I mean not everyone's.
01:06:56 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
No, no, no, everyone involved Me, my husband, my children. Yeah, no, no, no, not you. I mean, you can have your Christmas the way you want it, but I just had to give up on it. To be honest, that was my solution and I'm not proud of it, but at least it works.
01:07:18 - Sarah Beale (Host)
I think too, in this era of talking a lot about childhood trauma, generational trauma, healing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like you can then get into this thing of like, oh, I have to heal everything, and I'm like, well, you could just go, do you know what? Let's fucking hate Christmas, and like that's okay, yeah, you can just go here to say Christmas, I know why I've got some trauma, don't care, just going to keep hating Christmas. Because there's like a lot of pressure then to go, oh, I have to try to like Christmas. And so now I have to heal the trauma. Like, well, you might, you might not, you could just like get on with, continue on with your life and then maybe or maybe not ever, like Christmas and it doesn't really matter, like it doesn't actually, it doesn't matter, you can just like I don't know if yet, yes, but well, people watching and listening to this might be like who's? Yes, but yes, but this is my husband.
We have yeah, we had this conversation one day in the kitchen this summer about about how you can like know stuff about yourself. You can know you've got some baggage, you've got some stuff, but you'd be like, yeah, I don't really want to fix that I'm just going to. I know it's there, I'm just going to keep it. Maybe I'll work on that in the future, maybe I'll just keep it forever, like there's just so much pressure to be like fully healed and just feels like probably that's impossible and that's also a lot of pressure to put on ourselves as well as actually just doing the usual living of our life.
01:08:51 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But I think it's very interesting that Christmas is the one thing where I will still sit here and feel I should do better. There's so many things that I've just I'm not doing and not providing. My children never had their own room, their own bed. You know, we travel, we live in a backpack at the moment. It's. There's so many things that we don't do. Everyone else does it. There's so many things we don't have that most people would try to make sure they have. We don't do it. We talked about the bed last time. Luna, you know, maybe you just prefer to not have a bed. I don't give a, but I can't get over failing Christmas.
01:09:40 - Sarah Beale (Host)
Well, since this is about unschooling and self-directed education and you know we all place a high degree of like, value and importance on relationships in our family, like do your kids care? No, well, so like, why do you have to do it as long as we're not?
01:09:56 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
flying. They don't want to go through security, they hate it and they don't want that on Christmas.
01:10:02 - Sarah Beale (Host)
So just do that one thing and then you've like you've had an awesome Christmas, yeah.
01:10:08 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
And had we had the time, I could also have shared a lot of great Christmas stories, because after we let go it's just been amazing, like really amazing.
01:10:20 - Carla Martinez (Host)
But, cecil, because you said just now, like failing Christmas is like for me, I don't want to see, because you, you have failing Christmas, because you have an idea of what is Christmas. Yeah, so maybe you. I don't know this word in English.
01:10:45 - Sarah Beale (Host)
Does Jesus care? Maybe it's, I think so.
01:10:48 - Carla Martinez (Host)
Yeah, why don't you? You can make your own.
01:10:54 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Well, I was trying to make my own. I mean, if I should put it into words, I would say I would want Christmas to feel special. I would want that special Christmas vibe to be something my kids would remember and relate to. I would want Christmas to feel a little magical, a little special, a little, you know, there could be some light shining around it. I would like for them to look forward to Christmas and look back on Christmas with fond memories, and for myself also to enjoy it, to be singing, smiling, cooking, wearing that damn apron. But I can't do that.
01:11:38 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
But why you? You can't do that for now. It's kind of too late at this point. No, no, I don't think so. No, no.
01:11:47 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm not going to talk anymore. What Well, it's very close to you, know I can maybe do it for grandchildren, I mean little ones.
01:12:00 - Carla Martinez (Host)
So then it's not late. So it's not late.
01:12:03 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
No, because you know I was thinking before that I think I really like Christmas now because I'm actually finally having the Christmas that I wanted when I was a kid, that I didn't have when I was a kid, because now it's actually, I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to setting like getting in, walking in the door, smelling the duck roasting in the oven, hearing the music, giving my mama hug and actually meaning it when I say Merry Christmas, I love you. You know, actually having that whole, sharing the food, having my kids drive in from the other side of the country, oh, like, you know, like like we used to watch in the movies when all the families were driving home for Christmas, blah, blah, blah, you know, and the whole snow falling outside, and that's happening now. Well, it's not going to.
01:12:52 - Carla Martinez (Host)
It's not going to snow?
01:12:55 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
No, not if you insist on being in a warm country, but no, but you know, no, it's like no, it's, it's, it's never too late for anything, and I think what Sarah said is really. I think that's really spot on too. It's like it's fine to talking for everyone, like thinking you know there's an audience, people are actually trying to listen to something and maybe get a few like ideas of how to handle this whole thing.
01:13:23 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
We don't think they just want to hear about my trauma.
01:13:26 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Yeah, because that's it. It's fine to be, to not be there yet, to be at a place where, well, do you know what, like Sarah said, I just freaking hate Christmas and that's what it's like right now and that's that's actually saying that and not admitting but like allowing oneself to be. That that's part of the healing I can. That's actually part of the and and and like with so many other things, I think, when we stop and we're back to the famous outcome, when we stop trying to do something, looking to get somewhere, and we let go and we're like, okay, whatever, fuck, I'm fine with whatever, then that's where, naturally, things happen, because we let go. So I guess it's the same kind of yeah, mechanism type thing, I don't know.
01:14:26 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But at the same time, it's also because it's about the thing that it's always about. It's about values and I think when, when I embarked on the Christmas, feeling a responsibility because I had a child and that's not even true, because I felt responsible even with my siblings when they were small and did a lot of Christmas things, but it got more serious when I had a child of my own. I didn't sort through all of it, I just tried to, you know, make everyone happy and and and including me and my daughter and try to replicate all of the traditions. We have lots of jars and songs and poems and books and things and churches and places and pieces of art, and I have nine different cookies and things that we always did. And what if I don't want to bake all those?
It was, I was just trying to do it all and over the years I've learned that I have to, you know, install my own value system and and make sure that it's.
It's a celebration that we enjoy in my family and and now I can enjoy any sort of Christmas as long as everyone gets to say what's important for them and they, and then we try to make that happen, just as we would do on any Tuesday. It's the same system that we are all in this boat together and we get to say what's important and we all try to help each other to achieve whatever it is that is needed for our individual happiness, which is also our group happiness. And that's the lesson that I could, you know, teach if I was to give advice out to other traumatized people who hate Christmas, you know, then it helps to to to think through what's truly important, and for me it's truly important to be around my kids and and it is also truly important for me to be around my kids on Christmas Eve, and I'm really grateful that my daughter and my son-in-law they usually choose to travel to wherever on the planet that we are, so we get to be together all seven of us. If I can get that, then I'm happy. I've decided that.
01:17:08 - Carla Martinez (Host)
I don't need anything else. This is the most, the most important thing. You're all together, yeah. And then they choose to go to you. I mean yeah.
01:17:20 - Sarah Beale (Host)
I'm very grateful. I just wondered if I could add one more.
01:17:24 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I don't mind I might run out of battery on my camera, so but. But then it goes back to being the computer camera.
01:17:32 - Sarah Beale (Host)
It's not like that might be a little more, and then yeah, just one little other piece to adding that I just thought of while everybody was talking, and it really is relevant to all of us. It's just like this thread, I guess. It almost seems like Christmas is reflective of, and also somewhat a metaphor for, this kind of passing of the baton from one generation to another, or or at least this like very concentrated view of that. Like all of us have talked about how Christmas was, you know how we grew up with Christmas, how it was in our families good or bad and then all of us have got to an age where you know we've had children, and then I guess we've almost felt some kind of right or entitlement or or or just like it's our time to now say how we want to do Christmas and that's so. Then there's this interplay between the generations, how things were Someone has died and can't do the cooking anymore and the aunties take over, or maybe that person doesn't want to cook anymore, so they handed on to the next generation, or so it's just interesting how these things do happen outside of Christmas as well. But but Christmas is just this very, very concentrated view of what is actually entirely natural around this generational transference of ritualism, which I think is really important, and obviously having trauma and negative experiences and separated families etc. Adds some complexity to that. But it's also like a wholly natural and very organic process that this happens.
Families pass on something that's important to the next generation and then the next generation maybe adds their own flavour, maybe keeps some of the symbolism, changes things up, cooks them different food. Maybe the older generation grumble because they want to hold on to the traditional food, but the newer ones want to. You know, and and where we grew up, you know where I grew up in Australia. That's a whole country of that happening. Australia as like a newer colonised country, the whole country has said, oh no, we want to do these new things now. We want to have prawns and salad at Christmas and cold beer.
And then the older generations who are more recently arrived from like England or other countries will be like Well, no, we want to still have Turkey, even though it's 40 degrees, and like it's just like really interesting, how, how there's this? Like like friction between wanting to carry on something from the past because it's really important and then also wanting to put our own stamp on it as well, and how we, how we handle that, which can be conflict or it can be a beautiful transference. I'm sure it varies in in families and we've pretty, pretty happily navigated that stuff in in our family. But there has also been times where some matriarchal characters have been like, no, I'm still in charge of Christmas, and then the younger ones have been like no, but it's my turn, I want to be in charge of Christmas. It's just like an interesting yeah, just an interesting element to consider, because I've now got a 15 year old who wants to be in charge of Christmas and I'm not ready to hand that on.
01:20:54 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Oh man, I wish I had. Well, maybe I do actually have someone who just takes charge. I do.
01:21:01 - Sarah Beale (Host)
It would be unfair to say I didn't. It's a blessing and a curse.
01:21:06 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It's 100% a blessing in my case that the next generation is taking over and I get to sit back and pretend I'm a grandmother. That's to the benefit of everyone involved. Really it is. And this year we're getting over the present problem present problem as we are all backpacking all seven of us, all of us for more than six months. None of us wants anything. That would have to be a thing, because we do not have any space left in our backpacks. So that problem is 100% solved. There will be no presents for Christmas. It will be easy this year, I'm sure. But I think also it becomes such an intense thing because it really it's like it intensifies some of the problems. I think also that's the reason the younger mothers do the wooden German handmade fan trade thing, because it intensifies the need in the new parents to make a statement and make decisions and make sure they know how they want to parent, which is a great thing really.
The problem is that they're trying to control other people, which is something I'm very much against. If you want to control what presents other people give your children, it's the equivalent of trying to control what t-shirts other people wear the street. You can't control what happens in your children's lives. You can control what context you put them in and you can control how you cope with things after they happened. So you could, luna, have burned that barbie castle if you hated it so much and dealt with the anger of your child. You could have done that, or you could have whatever giving it back.
Or when I was a child, one of my very fond childhood memories of Christmas is in one of the families where I grew up. We were five children and my parents hated toys that made sounds, that would play little songs or you'd push something, and then we would go blah, blah, blah and I was the oldest, so I was more on team parents than on team children at that point and we sat down on Christmas night after the whole circus and took out a screwdriver and a pair of scissors and then we opened these little machines that everyone had just gotten for Christmas and cut some wires so that they broke and the younger generation grew up thinking that cheap stuff from China always breaks within the first day, so that it wouldn't make all that noise. That was a lot of fun. It was. Yeah, you can do it. I mean, that's controlling how you handle the situation.
But I think trying to control the grandparents' relation with our children and trying to control how they handle their role as grandparents. It's not fair. No one should try to. I mean, just you try to try to control me. It would piss me off like a hundred thousand, million, trillion much so I wouldn't. I mean, isn't that sort of a right to give someone a present? If you want to give them a present, I would say so. How can you even dictate what not to give? Is that fair?
01:25:06 - Sarah Beale (Host)
So this brings up to the idea of like how, advocacy. And obviously in our world our children are amazing self-advocates and they hardly need us now to advocate for them. But I remember, you know, there were times when my kids were younger and needed, you know, me to do that for them. There was actually one year where one of my kids was devastated because he got all of the educational toys. The other kids got all the fun toys and he was devastated because he was like really seeking everybody, thinking he was the smart one that should have the educational toys, and he was like I just want fun toys, like the others. And he was absolutely beside himself and I did actually talk to everybody about it because he was so sad and he wanted me to. But now that they're older they don't need that.
But you know, there's that gradual kind of organic transference of autonomy in that way, isn't there From when they're little to you know they get older and then they indicate like, oh, I can actually take that. Now I don't need you to say anything on my behalf, but you know what you're saying, cecilia. It really is about that kind of dance we do, where I can do whatever I want to do and you can receive that. However you want to receive that and I can do what I want to do, but I don't get to say what happens at the other end of that. And I guess it's the same gift giving, isn't it?
Since we're talking about Christmas through an unschooling lens, like, sure, I can give someone a present that I want to give them, without any regard of whether they're gonna really like it or want it or have use for it or fit it in their backpack.
I can do that, I'm allowed my right to do that, and then they've got a right to go. Actually, I don't ever feel like that, or I told you I didn't like that, or, remember, we decided we weren't doing presents and I actually don't want that. Like, the other person who's the recipient has the right to do that as well. And Christmas brings all of that stuff up, doesn't it? Because if you've also got all like the personality or everything we've already talked about up until now, and then you add in that truth, like we are all like autonomous and we have the right to act how we want to act, like that could be like really, really full on If you happen to have two people who, at the same time have some kind of compromised bandwidth because of their own individually lived experiences of like trauma and Christmas.
01:27:28 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
It could be like a Well, that's the story of my life, I'm sure, in my family it is, I think, yeah, everything on the fly it can be really complicated.
01:27:39 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
People crying and people Stories going down, the family story that you have to listen to Remember that Christmas and yeah, and it's that's something that you can dig a lot into, but probably not now, as we're nearing the end. But yeah, I think that's actually quite important. It's that's the whole, that's the on-schooling angle to it that, yeah, you can absolutely do, the grandparents can do what they want and you get to decide how you handle it in the other end. And the only thing is, depending on the level of healing you've done, the level of trauma, the level of maturity, the level of de-schooling all that that decides whether you are actually able then to handle it in whatever way, because you can only do what you have the tools to do and you can only do stuff Like I absolutely could not have done that at that. I mean, I could have done that, but I could not do that at that time. No, I know Mostly the cooking. I'm saying, I'm listening, I couldn't either.
01:29:01 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I mean, I'm not saying that you were in the wrong in any way. No, I know I'm a little bit against the trying to control the grandparents because in a way it's also their children, or at least it's a very important relation in their lives to have relations to their grandchildren. And for many children the relation to grandparents is a very important relation and if we try to interfere with it and control it, I think we do not have that right and I think we should try to back down a little bit. And so what if they get a Barbie castle? I mean, I know your daughters, both of them. They're pretty awesome. They survived the Barbie castle without any real trauma, to their awesomeness.
So yeah, that was just my point, that maybe we should try to get our shoulders down a little bit and let Christmas unfold the way it will unfold, and I've learned now to get over the idea that it has to be happy, it has to be perfect, it has to be special. Maybe it's just another Christmas with another weird set of traditions and trauma and conflicts and problems that will unfold this year and then in mid-January we're over it, thinking about something else. It's not beautiful final words. Anyone has beautiful final words for this podcast. We could say Merry Christmas.
01:30:38 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
I can show a beautiful final picture. Would you like me to show the screen and show you a picture?
01:30:43 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Then you have to explain what's on the picture.
01:30:46 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Oh, don't worry, That'll just. That'll speak for itself, don't worry.
01:30:49 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Yeah, but only for those who are watching.
01:30:51 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Yeah, oh right. Yeah, people are listening, listening it's not going to show them Okay.
01:30:58 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Maybe you can hear the voice over without the picture.
01:31:00 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
Yeah, so it was the world's ugliest ever in the history of mankind the world's ugliest Christmas tree ever. That was the year 2019, when Sarah's family and my family and another family actually a lot of families were spending Christmas together up in the northern Jotland in Denmark, and it's just like it's like I went on and on about that being so ugly and Sarah was like no, everyone was like no, no, it's fine, and of course it wasn't, and that's just that's the thing. Again. It's like so it was all fun and joking, right, but that's just another like the whole expectation around oh, it has to be a beautiful tree, with all the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And this tree was like, oh my God, so ugly and so like a big fail, like so ugly and we started making some ornaments and decorations and it was part of it was decorated and part of it was not, and I had cut off some branches to try to make, because I remember my dad always saying oh, you need to cut off some branches to make more space between. So I completely disfigured the tree and there was like oh, no, no, there was no branches left. It was just horrible, horrible and there's a lot of gaps.
01:32:27 - Sarah Beale (Host)
There's a lot of gaps, so people who are listening to this, though, who are not Danish or have never been to Denmark at Christmas, might not know that Danish people put real candles on their trees with actual fire. So, obviously, if you do not have enough gaps between the top of the flame and the next branch, yes you might have to put a fair degree of oil in them.
01:32:51 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
You could have put like two meter candles on each branch, oh my God. But the thing is like how it ties in, I guess, to this too, is that I really wanted to show everyone from Canada and Australia and the whole like, oh, I want to show you the Danish Christmas tree and we've got real lights on them. And all my freaking, I was like they must be so disappointed. It was just so, it was all good fun, but there was this oh, I want to show you the Christmas track. I'm going to show you, you know, and people are like, are you putting real candles on it? Wow, and then, honestly, it was just like such a big fail. When you look at it it was like, oh my God. But luckily, you know, we were in a setting of, you know, whatever, who cares, it doesn't matter.
01:33:41 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
But I bet you had a great Christmas. We did, yeah, we did, you know we had such a great.
01:33:48 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
01:33:50 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I mean, you know, we had such a great Christmas. Yeah, we had such a great Christmas tree.
01:33:57 - Carla Martinez (Host)
That we're going to have great Christmases. Yeah, whatever way we do it. Yeah, I can understand a bit the pressure on the Danish culture about because you have a very high standard of decoration and things Around Christmas.
01:34:11 - Sarah Beale (Host)
I don't have a. Yes, I do. It's like next level. It is extreme.
01:34:18 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Sock thing you mentioned earlier, sarah. In my childhood we didn't do socks, but we did like a calendar and there had to be one little present for every day of the 24 days in December leading up to Christmas. And having a lot of children, you're buying a lot of little bullshit things from China, wrapping it all, making sure that they are in level so that you know you can't give some one child something very boring. The same day another child gets something very interesting. And I have four children. We're up to almost a hundred little things. And then my husband got jealous and I had to make one for him as well. And it, it and that also had to be fair trade and handmade but also cheap, because obviously you can't afford it. So it was just it is. Maybe it is next level in Denmark, I don't know. Maybe we can't get into the whole cultural difference thing at this point where we're trying to just find some beautiful last words.
01:35:29 - Sarah Beale (Host)
But well, I guess what we can leave people with is because we are speaking through the lens of unschooling and self-directed living, not just education but living. And this is really an invitation to, if you celebrate Christmas, reflect on what it means to you, which rituals and traditions are important for your family. And not that anyone needs our permission, of course, but you are invited to make Christmas If that's the thing that you do, how your family wants to make it, and I suspect that if you do that with openheartedness, you will bring other members of your family, quite naturally anyway, into your way of celebrating. This has been our experience.
01:36:17 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
And I think my final words would then be if you hate it, then own it, just fucking hate it. I said the F word now. It helped a lot for me when I finally just said it out loud I hate this. Okay, we're going there, we're doing the thing. Just so everybody are clear. I officially hate it. I'm going to sit in a corner and hate it and smile. Now you all know and we can you know if you hate it, then hate it, it's okay.
I think I'm a pretty awesome mom and I've hated Christmas for a long time, so I mean that's okay too. It's a good moment to own who you really are and to, you know, stand up for what my values are, not to do that whole dance. My values are elsewhere. Other things are important to me, and I find the whole surface theater it's a show. In many cases we pretend that we're happy, we pretend we're really close, we pretend we're grateful for the presence, we pretend we didn't already know what was inside them, we pretend we're surprised, we pretend we like the food. It's all a big show. Oh my God, I hate that Hearing about your Christmas.
01:37:46 - Carla Martinez (Host)
I hate it, I hate it. I love the show.
01:37:51 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
I'm so sorry, but some people love the show. Then they go enjoy it and I get to hate it.
01:38:00 - Sarah Beale (Host)
Or it might not be a show. It might be genuine.
01:38:05 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
In some places it is a show. I can guarantee you that, and I'm sure that in some families it's not.
01:38:16 - Luna Maj Vestergaard (Host)
That was very beautiful. I think that was perfect Beautiful. I've never heard anything like it.
01:38:25 - Cecilie Conrad (Host)
Let's invite all the listeners to go and Merry Christmas or get through Christmas. If anyone needs emergency help, they know how to find us. We're all on social media. We can pat your bags if you need it. And yeah, we'll talk to you again in January about something else. And thank you very much, beautiful women, for joining me and Merry Christmas.
01:38:55 - Carla Martinez (Host)
WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED THIS EPISODE
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