Cohousing Christmas Memories

Looks like I forgot to write about Christmas. Or, I can’t find it, so here we go again.  I lasted ten months in Cohousing and felt badly about it till more people moved into my community, and out, most within six months. So, I had one Christmas.

First off, I thought cohousing would be cool to celebrate holidays like Hannukah where at the synagogue I belonged to in Los Angeles we each brought in a menorah and the table was glowing with so many candles. However, no one organized a Hanukkah celebration and one family mentioned they went over to their extended family instead.  I didn’t organize it since I tried for Rosh Shannah and that was the night the cat died, no one showed up for blessings of honey and apples for the new year, and the one neighbor who wanted to asked about it the night after. Fail on that front.

I was on the community committee (the fun party planning one till we all wanted to quit when it was also the committee that had to try to deal with conflict), so I must’ve helped plan the holiday party. It ended up being really fun and I even saw that my picture is still up on the Facebook page of me and my boys smiling. What made it fun – a white elephant give away.  I bought a gift that I thought would be popular. We had faithfully gone to game night so when I saw an Uno card game made out of chocolate, I thought it’d be a hit but it was meh.  My son made a younger child cry when he got to take the lantern that he thought was cool so that was uncomfortable. What made it such a good memory is that the worst gift made everyone laugh hysterically. One family didn’t go shopping but instead looked into their basement and found a painting that a friend had made for them years ago. It was of a clown so everyone laughed not because it was so funny, but it was so creepy. Of course no one wanted it but it got passed around. The couple that got it ended up putting it in the window of their attic which made it a nice inside joke whenever we looked up.

The other thing about Christmas which was  nice and I wonder if it became a yearly tradition was one family invited everyone over for pancakes on Christmas morning. People came in and out and it was lovely.  I even saw Santa Claus walk down our pedway. I wondered if it was the fire fighters and was happy they knew we existed (as a new build I wondered about their response time since most never found us on a GPS).  Later a neighbor admitted it was her father in law who lived locally.  

Later that day, I went to have Christmas at my sister’s house which I always do.  I was torn since I saw some neighbors firing up the fire pit and I felt FOMO. I can’t remember if I caught it later or not. I do remember wondering if this was my life – balancing my dedication to my new neighborhood community and my old life with family.  I never got another chance to figure it out since summer came and as soon as it started the scales tipped and made me want to get the heck out.

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
This entry was posted in Holidays, time and family balance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cohousing Christmas Memories

  1. Flower says:

    Sounds like this Xmas happened before it turned negative and the event that lead to that. I can’t imagine enjoying a Christmas gathering after things went south no matter how hard you may have tried. That kind of tension with everyone seeking a scapegoat would be a difficult situation. The pancake breakfast sounds nice, but I would find it overwhelming if the responsibility fell on my shoulders and wasn’t voluntary. I think I wondered if this was more like an employment/work situation where people often feel obligated to participate in parties or gift exchanges around the holidays when they would rather spend time with the people they love. One may like their colleagues and sometimes you don’t, but you may not want to participate in gift exchanges or feel obligated too. You may also not want to feel obligated to attend parties and it feels so phony and forced. Christmas is a hectic time for a lot of people and it can be difficult enough financially just within one’s family to purchase gifts. I always disliked the office gatherings. It felt more like an obligation than voluntary.

  2. CJ says:

    I hadn’t thought about that – the obligation part. The pancakes was an event voluntarily started by one family. Not sure if it happened since that first year. I saw the emails up until June when I finally sold my house and was free and don’t remember seeing any invites to pancakes but there is a slack communication channel which I left once I left the physical place so fun things like that usually go there instead of the official email channel. Yep, once things went south I booked out of there. I got a place by the beach to escape on the weekends and wait for things to pass over but once I saw they were never going to let me back into the fold (nor did I want to be around people that scapegoat like that), I made the beach a permanent place. Besides, what does that say if you need an escape hatch from your home???
    I know I’m super social and ate up that part of cohousing so the White Elephant Christmas party was something I looked forward to and helped plan. I think most are okay with things like that and of course can just not show up if they are too busy. The halloween party was a bust that year since most were busy and it was a few days after the real event where one family hosted their own party after the kids trick or treated down the street. But, I did decline to go to my office gift exchange this year since I’m totally broke and work part time at one school and part at another that I couldn’t fathom two parties!
    The Christmas party at cohousing did show how I wasn’t matching up with everyone. First, my gift wasn’t a hit though I thought it went well with game night. Then, when one member started playing Christmas songs on the piano I noticed they were from the younger generation and I didn’t know the words. That was one conflict I saw growing – the younger generation was leading everything and not letting any other voices in. Now that most parents have left, I think senior citizens are more in charge and probably a nicer place to live since the 30 somethings are the trophy generation where they have never had hard knocks or accountability. That’s what I saw.

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