And one lesson is sinking in to a degree, and I think it’s the most important one:
Let go of that Currier and Ives postcard holiday thing in your head. It’s not easy to do. It’s a lesson worth sharing.
I let go of my usual four-day Thanksgiving weekend. For two decades, these four days have been my holiday highlight, mostly because I’m increasingly indifferent to Christmas. The two days I had with my husband for the annual Star Trek Movie Marathon were really nice. We didn’t have the skid for it this year. But instead, we three had a Harry Potter Movie Marathon that lasted over a two or three week period and we watched the movies as we had time together. That was nice, too. Chase was around for the last Star Trek, which is his favorite, anyway.
I made Thanksgiving brunch. I haven’t had attachment to turkey with cranberry sauce for two decades. It seemed that my husband and I were the rare ones who were happy to try new things, new dishes, new time of day….but it was a really nice brunch. There was strain and family dynamics at the table….but it had nothing to do with my awesome food. Or with me or Mark or Chase for that matter.
I have let go of the fact that my skid and his dad put up the lovely tree with lights (and forgot most of the ornaments). The Godzilla ornament and the Packers candy cane are there….what else does this house need? Do I really want to fuss over it? Nope. Are there going to be pictures of this tree that we’ll save and cherish forever? Nope. Ever since I threw out 25 years worth of my handwritten journals before I moved in with Mark, I’ve come to terms that nobody actually cares so much about what I’ve said that they’ll keep it for posterity. This year bit. I think we can skip it and keep the photos from 2011, and have new ones for 2013.
I have let go of Christmas Day being December 25. I’m pagan. Who cares? We’re having family festivities on the 23rd and that’s fine with me.
The ex-wife has Chase Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In some stepfamilies, this would be fought over. In court, it could be not only fought over but won easily. We don’t actually care. We were asked to not request him for any more extra time for the rest of the year when we asked to bring him back three hours later (at 8pm) on Sunday. To this, even I said ‘whatever’.
We have stockings over our fake fireplace. (It’s not actually fake….we just haven’t figured out how to get a key remade to open it up again). I don’t worry about how the presents are, or when they’re given, and I’m not caring that we don’t have a “proper” Christmas dinner…we’re doing wine and desserts at my mother-in-law’s house. Initially, the family agreed to this because nobody REALLY wanted to host. Or rather, Mark and I did Thanksgiving, and I had hoped to work Christmas Day, like I have for the past six years. And after there was significant cricket chirping, Jane volunteered….and planned Christmas gathering on her terms. Which is fine. Nice, even. It is not appearing to meet with everybody’s expectations and ….should’s.
I don’t actually mind at all.
Know what I do care about? My husband and I have the entire Christmas Day off…and have it to ourselves. I want to take him to see Les Mis. Or the Hobbit again. Yeah, a large part of me wanted to go wear my Santa Hat in the ICU….just like every year for the past six. But you know what? I have a random Tuesday in December off with my husband and we will have fulfilled all family obligations. We can have it…TO OURSELVES! That’s so awesome!
I care a lot about the fact that I’m going to see my parents, when I thought I wasnt going to see them at all this year. I care a LOT about that. I’m flying home….don’t care at all about the $300some cost….and don’t care at ALL that it’s the weekend after Christmas. I don’t care at all that they put up a plastic 2 foot tall tree that they decorated once, and keep decorated, stored in a box eleven months a year. I think that’s wonderful and it makes me very happy.
Mom is delightedly making not one, not two, but THREE different kinds of gelato PLUS a homemade pie before I get home. I estimate she has 5,000 calories planned for me. None of it traditional holiday meal-type stuff. All of it lacto-ovo-vegetarian because my parents love me, and they have absorbed the Rockford Italian culture that says food is love. They just get that vegetable food is just as much love as the food we all used to eat, when my Dad’s cholesterol was much higher.
I think a Christmas evening at my mother-in-law’s place sounds nice. Her house is comfortable to me, and it’s full of quilts, and it’s just as good being the family’s Geneva or Switzerland as our house is. I think it will take me less time, this holiday, to blow off the strain and family dynamics. Because it isn’t about me. I’m gonna have egg nog and listen. That’s what I usually do at tables of large people…most of the time, I listen. Mark’s family is full of talkers, so this tends to work fine.
I’m happy about the cool presents I gave Chase, and even the iTunes my folks got him…am excited to see him open them. I’m happy about the really nice coat I got for Mark, and the nerdy laptop fan that he’ll love. I’m happy about giving my niece grown-up makeup….Gramma Jane got her some, too, but she’s going to be 14, and ready for big girl stuff. It’s cool. I don’t know what Mark and Chase have gotten Colton, my nephew yet, because I was told “you get the girl stuff, we’ll get the boy stuff”, but it’s always fun to watch him open presents, too….he and Chase run around together and have a good time. The three of them are great kids, and they’re fun to watch run around and have a good time.
I’m not making kiffles this year. I gained 10 lbs with the new job. Nor am I making my Christmas cheesecake. (Okay, maybe I’ll make Christmas cheesecake.) …..(All right, maybe ONE batch of kiffles, but only to bring to Jane’s house.) Maybe.
I know I had the anxiety dream right before Thanksgiving….but deeper into the holidays, and things are going a little easier. I’m taking what’s put in front of me this year….instead of deciding what should be there and noticing how reality doesn’t match. I wish I could have gone back in time and told myself this before. I just have to remember to KEEP telling myself this.
It’s like my Christmas tree. It’s beautiful as it is. I need to stop looking for things that should be there, and are not. Happy holidays.