I thought long and hard during a recent bout of insomnia about the topic for today's blog. Scrolling through posts from the past, I re-discovered several Christmas-themed ones. They were happy and full of anticipation for the big day with my large extended family. But like just every compliant person in the world right now, I too am social distancing this season, even from my children. Knowing everyone else is in the same predicament around holidays and family traditions this year, I've no right to self-pity because I have the only real gift that matters - the health of my loved ones.
But here are some memories that popped into my sleep-deprived head:
1. The Christmas I was ten and my brother, nine, our grandfather had mailed us gifts from western Canada where he was living at the time. My brother found them tucked at the back of my parents' closet. I'm not sure where my mother was (tending to my baby brother perhaps) but we quickly opened the parcel to find a cowgirl outfit for me (complete with fringed vest and skirt) and for my brother, a cowboy outfit with fake leather vest and those legging things (chaps?) cowpokes wear. Yes, we loved the presents but feigning delight on the big day was a challenge. Plus the surprise had been ruined...by us!
2. The Christmas I was sixteen and had just discovered the thrill of writing stories, I was home alone when a deliveryman rang the doorbell and handed me a box labelled Smith-Corona Portable Typewriter. Instinct told me to leave the box between the two front doors for my mother to find when she came home. Once inside, she asked me if I'd gone to the door at all. I wisely deflected - "Well, I thought I heard the doorbell ring." Once again I wasn't surprised on the day but I didn't need to pretend to be excited - I was ready to start typing.
3. My very first Christmas away from home was a disappointment, spent with my then college romance and his parents. Because he was an only child, they opened gifts on Christmas Eve so they could sleep in the next morning. And there was no turkey. I really missed my family and our own traditions.
4. My second Christmas away, a few years later, was with my new husband and his family. With four siblings countered against my two, their family Christmas was noisy and bustling. It took me a couple of Christmases to get into their style, but we're still sharing them (though not this year) fifty-one years later!
5. One year December 25th didn't seem like Christmas at all, because my husband and I were in Istanbul on our overland trek to Australia. Turkey is a Moslem country, so we had bean soup and fresh fish for our dinner, while gazing across the shimmering Bosporus bay, lit up like a gigantic tree.
Re-living these memories told me I've had many different Christmases, with and without family. This one is very different again, but the next...well...I have great expectations for that one!
Happy and safe Holidays everyone!