This is our first Christmas alone in 20 years. Our first Christmas was 16 days after we were married. Dan bought me an aquarium, I bought him a Tigger sweatshirt from the Disney Store. I think he finally surrendered it when we moved overseas, cuffs frayed and the whole thing faded. It would have made some great cleaning rags, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut it up. So I’m sure someone else did. We’ve exchanged gifts a few times since then, but our energy has usually been focused on the kids, and even at that, it’s been a small trickle of energy. We’re grateful to have kids that have never thrown a hissy because they didn’t get a iPhone on Christmas. Although there was that fateful Black Friday morning at Walmart somewhere around 2006 that involved sprinting for an iDog. So yes, we do care.
Even though we have never been huge Christmas people, little traditions have developed over the years. Going to the insanely cold, snowy, or worse, RAINY Oregon forest to find the perfect tree, usually accompanied by tears and whining, tires stuck in the snow, and a yearly pledge to go to a tree lot the following year. Driving around on Christmas night looking at lights, baking and decorating (and eating) dozens of cookies, and of course visiting family. Since moving overseas, those traditions haven’t gone away, but some have been replaced. They now include chugging cups of coffee at Starbucks to earn their yearly planner (which I’ve earned every year since living here…and I never use them…hey, another tradition), decorating our plastic tree, and baking one batch of cookies in the sweltering kitchen.
This year is different. Not bad, just different. We still have the plastic tree, but this year we let our employees decorate it. Christmas trees are like gardening for me. I love the results, I hate the work that goes into it. Since most of our employees have never had a Christmas tree, they were thrilled to jump in and bedazzle the thing from top to bottom. Over the years I’ve bought a couple different color “themes” and have rotated through them. They put everything on. We saved our small box of sentimental ornaments to do ourselves, and struggled to find empty branches for them. But the joy the girls experienced made it worth it. I don’t know if I’ll get my planner this year, I’ve been sipping more than chugging, but it’s OK. So many things that I didn’t think I would be able to let go of have been surprisingly easy to release. But I’m still baking cookies.
And of course, a big difference, is us. It’ll just be the two of us on Christmas morning. No presents, no Christmas Day traditions to uphold. Both kids are in the States; Samantha in Washington DC, Andrew at Marine Corp Boot Camp. I doubt he’ll be participating in any snowball fights or tree hunts this year. We’ll meet up with friends here in town, but otherwise, we have no plans. Maybe breakfast in bed, a day of watching Christmas movies while bundled under the covers (with the air conditioning blasting of course). And…it’ll be awesome.