Offa. Is it bad to admit I’m glad Christmas is over? I am. That’s not surprising to me. Every year I’m pretty glad when the mele is over, ready for the downturn in social activities that January tends to usher in. What I am surprised to admit, is that I had a really nice Christmas.
I’m noticing when asking friends about their holiday, the constant thread is ‘it was really different than it used to be, and I’m ok with that.’ – yep. Christmas was different when you were a kid than it is now. I feel like the big learning of this year was how to be ok with that. Settling into our roles as adults, and accepting our families for adults too.
In my world, Christmas looks really different than it did when I was a kid. This is the sixth Christmas I’ve celebrated without my Dad. It was the first Christmas I celebrated with my brother-in-law. It was the second Christmas that we held the extended family extravaganza at my Aunts home, instead of my Grandparents house, and my third Christmas without my Grandpa.
My family, I, have seen a lot of transition and change in the last 7 years. Obviously Christmas is not the same as when I was a kid. When my dad died, we had to make adjustments. We started a new tradition of going to a hotel for Christmas eve instead of what was formerly-known-as-mom-and-dads-house-now-just-moms-house. It worked well for us. It took some of the emotional sentimentality out of the time together as well as let us all be together without anyone having to cook clean or host. Plus, there was a hot tub on site. This made Christmas seem more like a vacation than an emotional holiday endurance test, which we like.
Each year we tweak the formula a bit, different room decorations (we want it to feel festive!), different board games to play after dinner. This year, we went to a new, dog friendly hotel, which marks the start of Huxley celebrating Christmas with us.
The new backdrop enabled us see each other in new light. When the background is always the same, be it moms house or a yearly hotel, it’s hard not to fall into the same patterns, remembering the same painful experiences of the years past. I think the changing location enabled us to be more present to what was right then, instead of focused on the past. We enjoyed each other more.
We’re not trying to pretend like everything’s the same. Because it’s not. It’s also really refreshing to not be doing the same things we did when we were kids. It seems like amazingly, we’ve transitioned from pageant attending kids to hotel happy hour enjoying adults. We’re acknowledging the changes, in us, in our family, and re-creating something that works for us. I like traditions, I find comfort in them. But it’s nice to evolve them, and not try to shoehorn ourselves into things that worked when we were younger. We’ve reimagined Christmas, and it’s lovely.
Talking with my friends, it seems like other families are evolving too. Understanding that our roles in and around Christmas change with age. And through that process, we are starting to stop trying to compare holidays with times past. We’re starting to see our family as a collection of people, instead of family titles. We’re starting to claim and create family of the heart. We’re starting to understand that it’s a complicated endeavor to get so many unique, complicated people together at one place at one time, and to appreciate that, and to live in the present instead of the land of historical comparison.
So Christmas 2011 is done, and I had a lovely one. I’m actually excited to see what we come up with next year. Because it gets to be different. Every year. If we want.
Was your holiday (Christmas or otherwise) different this year? How did that newness effect things?