Having grown up in America, I have my notions of what an “ideal” Christmas (replete with large families, snow, and colorful lights) looks like, even if those notions have matured over the last few decades to accommodate such unseasonal deviations as work deadlines, grouchiness, and colds.
School vacation during the busiest time of our business is death for me. So are cold viruses. And the holidays. This year we got socked with all three. (Come to think of it, we get socked with all three every year.) Christmas dinner consisted of a pre-ordered and pre-cooked turkey dinner from the supermarket. I continue to mail out holiday cards in the week leading up to New Year’s (and, I suspect, all the way through mid-January). The Christmas cookie cutters, not having been put to use in the kitchen, have since turned into Play Doh tools for Fred. Year after year, I’d promised Fred that we would bake Christmas cookies.
Christmas seemed to go as quickly as it had come this year. I wrapped my family’s presents on Christmas Eve and stuffed Mrs. Claus’s goodies into everyone’s stockings that same night. We had a joyous morning watching Fred open more presents than children in the developing world will ever get in their lifetimes, and I otherwise spent much of the day on the couch surrendering to the final K.O. of the cold virus Fred had brought home from school.
The day after Christmas Max and I were back at work, while my brother, who is visiting from out of town, played with Fred.
I longed for our home the same peace and slow pace that blanket our town on Christmas. How I wish I could sit down with Fred and make cookies for Santa together. And write lengthy notes on Christmas cards to catch up with friends. And figure out a way to avoid paying postage for express mail.
Maybe it’s just me, and my constant guilt, or the remnants of my perfectionistic tendencies, but something about the holidays seems to highlight the gaps between what is and what could be with the brightness of a mile of Christmas lights.
Ultimately, it’s about wanting to have the time to relax with my family during the holidays, and feeling responsible for building happy traditions and memories that Fred can remember.
And indeed…what will Fred remember about this Christmas?
His favorite uncle was in town.
He got everything he wanted for Christmas, three-fold.
He got to go to his best friend’s house and play with his new Wii.
He got to spend the whole day with his mom and dad, stacking Legos, reading Christmas stories, belting out George Michael’s Last Christmas.
He will remember it as “the best day ever.”
And Max will remember it as the day he didn’t have to work.
He will remember how wonderful it was that all of us could be together, along with his favorite brother-in-law.
He will remember how good that turkey tasted when neither one of us had to sweat to prepare it.
I will remember all of those things…plus:
It was the last Christmas that needed to be “perfect.”