Everyone does Christmas differently. Traditions, these days, don’t seem to apply to the general population, but rather to specific families. Some families have to celebrate their Christmas on Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas, while others may not get to see their families at all. As we grow up, the traditions we had grow with us. Like learning that there is no real Santa, our traditions as children to go to bed early and put out cookies and milk for the man in the red suit start to fade away. As much as I hate children, I love hearing stories from my friends and coworkers about how they make Christmas special for their little ones. The wife of an ex-coworker does the Elf on the Shelf with her three girls. I love watching all of the unique spots she hides the little doll for them to find. Another coworker of mine gets her son the Star Wars advent calendars every year. A friend’s family tradition is to eat at a particular Mexican restaurant in Chico, CA every year. Some friends of mine never had special traditions growing up and didn’t mind it.
Growing up, my dad’s shift was never the same and we had to coordinate our Christmas plans around it. I remember being so excited during the few times we were lucky enough to have him all to ourselves on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. My parents always found a way to make it work, though. No matter what, we would open one present on Christmas Eve and then all of the presents on Christmas Day. Depending on what particular shift he was working that year (morning, swing or graveyard), we would either open our stockings with our one present or after we’ve opened all our presents.
One year, when I was just a little girl, my dad dressed up as Santa Clause and showed up at the house. I remembered thinking how crazy it was that my dad and Santa had the same gold-rimmed glasses. Still, my parents were able to keep me from really figuring out what happened. As I was typing this, I remembered that my dad came home maybe 30 minutes later and me running up to him about how excited I was to see Santa, but how bummed I was that he didn’t get to meet the big guy. My dad played along and told me that he saw Santa’s sleigh and reindeer lifting into the sky as he got closer to home. It made me feel better knowing he at least saw him in the sky. To this day, it’s still my all-time favorite memory.
The last few Christmases haven’t been easy on my family. We’ve lost a lot, but our family grows stronger and closer as we go. There’s not a lot of us that celebrate the holidays in the Roberts home. Just my mom, dad, grandma, the family dog and myself. My sister and her family live in Oregon, and it’s always a little sad for my family to not see them. My dad’s side of the family lives in Oregon as well, while my mom’s side of the family lives in the Philippines. While we may not see them, we always take time to think about them, call them, or just talk about memories with them.
I don’t know what it has been about this particular holiday season, but I haven’t been in the mood for decorating and celebrating like I normally do. Even at Halloween, I found myself unable to fully lose myself in the first holiday of the season with the usual pumpkin carving and desk decorating as I normally do. I didn’t even push pumpkin shopping with Jeff, which I could tell he found to be odd. Sometimes, I wonder if my inability to finally finish settling in my new apartment is a major factor in my reason to not indulge myself in the events’ whimsical spirits. My heart is only half in the presents I purchase, and I become guilt ridden because of it. I can’t even bake right now, because everything I make tastes terrible and Logan is the only one brave enough to tell it to me straight. (I’ve found my quality of food production to be directly related to my mind-state.) Other times, I wonder if I’m just experiencing seasonal depression. I always try to be a glass half full-type person in everything I do, but lately it’s been a lot more difficult. My hope is for an instant recovery the second I open my eyes on Christmas morning and run out to the living room to see my family waiting for me to make breakfast. It’s always such a wonderful feeling.
There has been many loses for many families this past year. I know from first-hand experience how difficult it can be to celebrate such a joyous holiday on such sad terms. I know what a cancelled Christmas feels like; to walk into a room that was decorated and so lively one day, and to be so baren the next is awful. To open presents that were pulled together out of necessity and nothing more (shirt boxes with gift cards and depressed family members that felt bad for doing so). I don’t wish that upon anyone. Remember those that have been lost with smiles and love, and share wonderful memories. For those of you lucky enough to have a happy year that hasn’t been gripped with pain and suffering, enjoy this holiday season that much more. It could seem like not a big deal to skip this holiday or that birthday until you don’t have anymore to celebrate. This is a time for joy. So, let’s be joyful and excited, and experience that happiness we lived off of as children.
These days, we wait to open everything on Christmas morning after Grandma wakes up and has had time to eat her breakfast (she’s on a schedule that can’t be swayed from, even on a holiday). I make crepes for everyone while drinking mimosas. One by one so my dad and I have enough time to take pictures of every gift everyone gets. We watch the parade and the annual ice skating special while we clean up the mess from the presents in the family room. Once the room looks back to normal, my mom hands out everyone’s stockings that have been magically filled during the night (including her own, which always results with jokes and laughter). My tradition is to get everyone lottos and scratchers and make sure they know who helped them win millions of dollars.
We enjoy a nice, quiet lunch where my mom and I drink mimosas with our meals (usually steak, pork chop, or other delicious meats). I’m usually kinda drunk off champagne at this point and very grateful that I only live across the street. By the time I’m ready to leave, my mom has the majority of the Christmas decor put away and all is back to normal in the Roberts Family household. This may seem depressing to most, but we don’t see it as such.
On Christmas night, Jeff and I make a point to get together to exchange gifts, which is hard for me because I hate suspense. I mean, I love-hate it. This year, I’m contemplating making lobster and steak for our dinner. We’ll see how full we still are from the Christmas meals we’ll have.